I have herniated disc for more than 3.5 years and recently start thinking if I should do the surgery. Please help me with your comments and suggestions!
I am a 6’1” tall, 35 year old male and was diagnosed herniated disc at L4-L5 (bulge) and L5-S1 (protrusion) in May.2012 (3 year and 8 months ago). The cause of my herniated disc is because of long term lack of exercise and excess use of my body in work and life. I was physically active in until late 20s. I did not get much over weight, actually my BMI is always about 25 or below, but I lost my muscles. My wife had our daughter in Feb.2012 and our parents cannot come to help us as we initially expected, so my wife and I were quite occupied especially the first couple months. I was the only bread earner so had quite some pressure maintaining my job while helping with the baby. In April I felt sour in my back but can withstand after rest. In early May I felt radiation pain in my leg and thigh and visited the doctor who did X-ray and then MRI on me, and diagnosed me with herniated disc. The neurologist said my case was not severe and recommended me for PT plus swimming, which I tried for three months. PT helps stabilized my situation but at the same time I have to work and help with the baby, and I had my first relapse in September 2012 when I caught a cold and coughed badly. I took anti inflammatory medications and resumed swimming plus PT at home. In 2013 I tried to add some strength work to my exercise but hurt my shoulder, I guess my muscle is too weak. Have to rest for over 3 month with only the stretching and swimming without shoulder. Then I had a second relapse after a long international trip in Oct.2013. I did another MRI and fortunately the images did not show much progress of my disc herniation. In 2014 I maintained the relatively stabilized situation and refused many travel requests from my boss. I had a small relapse in 2014. In 2015 I was working quite hard and start to take trips. A month ago I twisted my back when exercising and this time, after the initial pain and sourness go away, I can feel the symptom become a bit worse than before.
In 2012 I was definitely not ready for surgery, but now mentally I want to fix it as soon as possible. The herniated disc caused me quite a lot. I refused many trip requests at work and took quite a few sick day offs, and some times feel I develops a habit of avoid the hard work. My career is kind of awkward now as I can feel it. I have the radiation pain and pain in the butt most of the time, and it really affects my mood, and I feel frustrated every once a while, plus the work pressure, sometimes I feel depressed.
So last week I saw the neurologist and told him that I do not want to live my next 5 years like this. He said I can do the surgery. Based on my recent MRI in Oct.2015 (before the recent relapse), he said I may be able to do the micro discectomy and referred me to consult a neurosurgeon, who will see me in two weeks.
Kind of ready for the surgery mentally, I started to learn about this micro discectomy, the cost, the preparation, etc. I learnt that the discectomy is more used for ruptured disc but mine seems not ruptured yet, or not opened yet. In my case the surgery will open a hole in annulus wall to retract some nucleus out from the hole, and the hole in the annulus wall cannot be fixed or repaired. This raised my concern that I will continue live with a hole in my disc wall. And I began to worry about the PT after the surgery, if I could really build my abs muscle.
I am still inclined to do the surgery, but kind of worried. Am I just too sensitive to it? Any comments or suggestions to my case?
Herniation diagnosed May.2015 (L4-L5 bulge, L5-S1 protrusion)
Everyday exercise: Walk 30min @ 3.5mil/H, core muscle 20min
Swimming 1000 meter 2~3 times a week.