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Thinking about microdiscectomy L5-S1slight foot drop

emmurray81eemmurray81 Posts: 6
edited 02/26/2015 - 8:58 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
First time poster but have been doing a lot of reading on this site. I herniated my L5 back in September of 2014. I've had 2 mri's since I hurt my back. First one was 1 week after hurting my back. Showed a L5 Disk Herniation(acute central L5-S1 type herniation with mild DDD. The disk at that time was 5mm(AP) in size and favored the right side. The second mri at the end of January showed the the disk at 3-4mm(AP) in size. I've had 2 Epidural injection's in my back and 3 Toradol injection's. 10 sessions of physical therapy and lot's of rest, stretching etc. I'm In construction and haul heavy construction equipment(truck driver). My job is very physical demanding and includes, bending, twisting, climbing out of machines, pickup 15 ibs of blocks, chains ect. Sometimes I will drive for 30 min and spend 20-40 min of physical labor. Other times I can drive for 2-3 hrs and do very little physical labor.

I tried to go back to work in the begging of February and had mixed results. My right leg would be numb after working for 3 hrs and my back would hurt in the l5 area(like a constant pressure). Also my middle to upper back would hurt and be sore the next day. In total I worked 70 hrs this month. I had to tell my boss(Mom) that I was not ready to go back to work.

I went to well respected back surgeon this week since my legs are weak and my feet feel wet and warm at times. I can walk for 10-15 minutes and then I start to limp on my right side. My lower back does hurt but that is not the problem. The doctor told me that I could do the surgery if I wanted to. It's not a need to do surgery since I can withstand the back pain(3-4 on a 1-10 scale). This surgery would be to relive the pressure on my nerve that is causing my pain and numbness in my legs and feet. I have very slight foot drop on the right side. My right leg is what concerned the doctor in regards to the weakness I'm having. I also will have tender heals and some pain in my right hip and numbness in the groin area(2 times a month).

If I had a non physical job I probably would hold off on the surgery until absolutely needed(if needed). Even driving my car will cause my right leg to tingle and feel warm and wet.

The surgery is really up to me and I have been pacing a hole in my floor thinking if I should do the surgery. Any advice would be great if any experience with a physical demanding job and weak leg and numb feelings. Thank You in advance for any info. Oh as I'm writing this both my feet feel wet and are tingling...



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Welcome to Spine-Health

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • HI, I too work in construction/excavation business. I spent many years as a laborer. My pain all started about 10 years ago but only in my hip/butt area. At the time it was only a mild achy feeling and i never thought much of it. As years went by all my symptoms seemed to slowly get worse and more persistent until it eventually turned into a constant throbbing pain that would range from moderate to severe. I also started getting the pain down the left leg and some numbness in my calf, ankle, & foot.
    At this point, about a year ago, i finally went to orthopedic doc to find out what was going on. My initial complaint was hip/butt pain. After x-rays and then an MRI i was diagnosed with herniated discs as well as other problems. All Lumbar related.
    Even at that point in time with pain ranging from 3 - 7 i swore i would not consider surgery. I went through the usual conservative treatments with no success. Medications, Physical Therapy, Injections etc... etc... If anything my pain would only get worse especially after injections. All my sciatic pain which was determined to be coming from the s1 nerve root would really flare up bad when i was standing. I know for many people it's the other way around, where sitting is a problem. My boss helped me since i have operating experience by letting me start running the excavator full time. Sitting down and being able to work was a big help for me yet i still couldn't handle standing on my feet for more than 2-5 minutes without having to sit again.
    This new year i decided i had enough and even though i swore no surgery it had gotten to that point that i decided i would do whatever i had to do to get better.
    I met with surgeon who gave me the surgery option but first wanted me to get an EMG/ Nerve Test. Had that done the next day and it showed some mild damage to the S1 nerve root. I decided then to go ahead with surgery.
    If it gets to the point where nerve damage is occuring and it's not getting better than it could lead to more permanent damage and take longer to heal after surgery.
    I ended up getting a open Laminectomy w/ Discectomy on FEB 16th. All my constant butt/ hip pain was immediately gone afterwards. Still have sporadic bouts of pain in my lower leg but nothing bad. This is all normal as it takes time for that angry nerve to settle down. Even though i'm only 11 days post-op i feel overall great and i'm glad i went through with it.
    In my case doctor told me it would be 4 -8 weeks before i could go back to work. At least 3 weeks of no driving. Most importantly i have to baby my back from here on out cause there is always a chance of the remaining disc re-herniating . In my case that would then lead to a fusion, which i really don't want to happen.
    Bottom line is it's your decision based on what you and your doctors think is best. For me, i can't really explain it, but i just knew when i had enough and decided it was time for surgical intervention. Remember that a Discectomy will most likely only help with the leg pain. Not any back pain. If you think you have exhausted all other treatment options and the pain gets to that unbearable point i think you'll know it's time.
    I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide to do. I know how long and hard the road to relief can be while working a physically demanding job.
  • emmurray81eemmurray81 Posts: 6
    edited 02/27/2015 - 9:30 AM
    Thank you for responding to my post. The info is very helpful and informative. I'm going to get a second opinion in a few days just to be sure. I was like you about the surgery totally against surgery. Speaking of running a excavator I had to walk one about 2 miles down a bumpy rd in order to load the machine. That 2 miles was pretty pain fully from the bouncing around. My legs shake when I'm lying down kind of like a slight twitching.
    I hope you have a great recovery and best wishes.
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