I am a 30 year old female in relatively good health. I work as an RN, and have had ongoing SI joint pain for approximately 3 years this December. This last year flare-ups have been pretty frequent. Approximately six weeks ago I got a wicked bout of sciatica which was effectively treated with gabapentin. However I began to experience a slight foot drop/limp and had an MRI 10 days ago which confirms an L5/S1 herniation of approximately 1.4cm with moderate degenerative disc disease.
It is hard to say whether or not the herniation has been the issue all along which progressively got worse until it burst or what. I had been seeing a chiropractor for my SI joint issues, but do not think I want to continue on that course anymore. I have also stopped taking the gabapentin for about 2 weeks because I am no longer in pain. I'm not sure if the initial herniation was greater than 1.4 cm or it was just the resulting inflammation that made the pain and spasms so severe. However, of great concern to me is that I am still experiencing this foot drop. It will be 6 weeks today.
I will probably get a referral for a specialist next week, but no one knows whether surgery is really an option at this point. To be honest, the risk of scar tissue causing more (and permanent) pain is very scary to me. I asked my doctor for a referral for an electromyography and nerve conduction velocity study to try and understand the extent of damage.
My question is this: because I am still experiencing this foot drop and cannot rise onto the toes of my left foot... How long should one wait before considering surgery as an option? I am very worried that I may not recover from this injury and I will forever be limping. It's more than just looking different though- my pelvis is pulled out of alignment with every step I take because it is like I am walking on a peg-leg.
Does anybody have experience with this problem, and what happened to you? How long did it take for your motor function to return, or did it not return at all? Did you require surgery? Was it helpful if you went that route? Most of the literature I am reading states that beyond the 6-week mark you should really begin to consider surgery. My chiropractor, family doctor and a doctor I work with all seem to feel that conservative watch and wait treatment is best, and honestly, if I had more confidence, I wouldn't be stressing about it so much. If anyone has had a similar problem or knows someone who has, I would sincerely appreciate hearing from you!