I've had two back surgeries. The first one, a microdiscectomy on L5/S1 was in 2005. My sciatic nerve was damaged in that surgery and I've had numbness ever since down the length of my leg (buttocks, calf, outer toes).
My second surgery (microdiscectomy on L4 in 2013) left me with a slight bit more numbness around my toes.
In the past six weeks I've had terrible pain in that same numb leg, but no back pain. I feel like the numbness might be increasing, but it's hard to tell if it is or if it's still residual numbness from that second surgery. I am all up in my head about it and freaking out a bit. I find it a little bit harder to walk.
I saw the surgeon today and he reviewed my MRI, which showed a slight herniation at L4. I am at the point in my life where I will do anything to avoid surgery (as I'm sure we all are here). The pain in my leg is debilitating at times but nothing compared to the pain I had in my back before both surgeries. In other words, I could possibly live with the pain. But it's the numbness that scares me, as I wonder if it will lead to foot drop.
So my question is: once a nerve is damaged, from the herniation pushing on it or any other type of pressure / pinching, what are the chances it will heal through non-invasive treatment? aka, once you lose feeling, is it likely that that loss of feeling is permanent? Is it possible to have "bad nerves?" Having had permanent nerve damage following my two surgeries, I'm just pessimistic about my body's ability to heal nerves. It seems like once I lose feeling I don't get it back.
The doc recommended the usual: epidural, anti-inflams, and PT. I don't think any of those will make the numbness go away.
I would appreciate any advice.