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Microdiscetomy -My story, 22yr old Female

MelissaGMMelissaG Posts: 1
edited 11/02/2015 - 10:50 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My name is Meli.
I am a 22 yr old female from Canada!
I am a university student and I also work to support myself through my studies.

Starting June 2015, i had this deep,dull ache at the back of my Left leg. This was very unusual for me and i had a hard time being active with the pain. Therefore i decided to go to a family doctor.
The doctor was kind and basically told me that these kinds of things usually resolve by themselves. She told me she was not sure what was wrong, but she recommended i go to Physiotherapy.

I followed her advice and went to physiotherapy. After less than 2 minutes of examination the Physiotherapist told me i had Piriformis syndrome. He gave me a few stretches and put me on the traction machine and sent me on my way.

I did the stretches regularly and realized that the pain was only getting worse. The pain was most intense when sitting down. I would get out of breath very easily, simply waking from one class to another.

A few days later, the numbness started. The back of my leg was almost completely numb. My Left calf was so tight, it felt like my muscle was in constant spasm.

I could not take it anymore, i went to the ER. The doctor took an x-ray of my back and hips. The x-ray came back clear and he prescribed me some anti-inflammatory medication and a narcotic. He also stated that this will soon pass and i should simply wait it out. He told me to come back to the ER if i get any bladder and/or bowel problems.

Slowly the numbness got worse, it wrapped around the front of my shin and down to the lateral side of my left foot. The medication didn't seem to help. So i went back to the family doctor that i originally saw. She was absolutely shocked that 2 months later i was still experiencing the pain and that my symptoms were getting worse. She did a thorough assessment and realized that i had lost my reflexes in my left leg. I was terrified.

She told me to go straight back to the ER and demand an MRI and to see a neurologist. She seemed very distressed and told me there was a good chance that i was doing permanent damage to my nerve. She also referred me to go get a nerve conduction study.

Me second trip to the ER resulted in the doctor thinking i had a clot in my leg. He did some blood work and realized that everything was fine, meaning no clot, but my "muscle enzymes" were way too high. He was confused and referred me to the urgent neurology clinic.

A few days later I go to the urgent neurology clinic and the neurologist seemed quite bored with me. I explained my pain and how it was very challenging to walk. I also explained that the numbness and muscle tightness was intense. And i mentioned that the stretches i was doing were not helping. He basically told me the same thing every other doctor told me. "this will pass" i was distraught. I couldn't take the pain anymore. Every time i talked to a health practitioner they seemed either completely confused or dismissive or my symptoms.

The neurologist referred me to get an MRI (that took 1 month) and a Nerve conduction study. The nerve conduction study was inconclusive, they said that there was definitely some abnormal activity but it was unclear as the cause. They mentioned that i had slight axon loss in my left calf.

While i was waiting for my MRI i saw an Athletic therapist. She did not think i had a bulged disc, she only thought my SI joint was out of place. She also gave me a few exercises.

I finally got my MRI and a few days later i got a call from a Neurosurgeon. I went in for a consult. He showed my my MRI and said that i had an L5/S1 severe disc protrusion. He recommended surgery and also noted that me left calf was a lot smaller than my right one. indicating muscle atrophy.

I agreed to surgery and had it in September 2015 . They had me walking that same day. The pain in my leg is gone. Which makes me very happy. The nurses were amazing. I was not given many post-operative instructions other than, don't twist, and don't lift anything that weighs more than 10 pounds.

Fast-forward to today, November 2015. I am walking everyday. Walking is much easier. My calf is still extremely tight but the numbness in my leg is almost gone.
I haven't seen my surgeon since my surgery . I have an appointment to see him on the 12th.

I feel like i want to stretch and do some exercise.I want to strengthen my back and my core.
I have decided not do do any physical activity other than walking until i see my surgeon.

Overall I am happy with the results of my surgery. I truly hope that i will one day return to being normal.

As a final note, since the pain started I have fallen into a depression. Being unable to move/ do normal things is/ was devastating. I felt like i was never going to be able to live my life without the constant pain. Things have gotten a bit better since the surgery, but i am still sad that i might never get full use of my calf.

Should i start strengthening my core/back?
Should i start stretching?
or should i wait for my surgeon to clear me.
I have gained a lot of weight over the past 5 months of barely moving and therefore i want to get active again to try and lessen the pressure on my spine.



There are no medical professionals on the forum side of this site. Therefore everything you read is based on the personal experiences and/or research done by the individual member. Comments should never be taken as pure medical facts. You need to discuss this with your doctor. They are the only ones that can provide you with detailed information about you, the patient.



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • My consultant had me in physio starting two weeks after my md and that was all focused on core muscles but simple exercises I could do laying flat on my back in bed without any stress or strain. After being virtually bed bound for a few months I don't think I had many muscles left! If possible can you ask your surgeon for a referral to physiotherapy or what he recommends? I found it useful not just for the exercises but also for the confidence to start moving again and what I should and shouldn't be doing as the weeks went on.

    Like you I've got weak calf muscles now and can't go up onto tip toe on my left foot but in all honesty it doesn't really bother me too much, I can walk long distances, have started swimming and it doesn't cause me too many problems except I can't creep up on people on tip toe now...! The only thing I've found difficult was going up a step ladder as my left foot couldn't take the weight for long. Compared to the pain prior to surgery I'll take the weak calf muscle any day and can live with it!

    A bit of strength does seem to be returning though as I can go into tip toe on both feet and hold it just on my left for a few seconds now. I couldn't do that a few months ago so don't give up hope just yet!
    L5-S1 microdiscectomy, May 2015
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