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Did surgery help?

Hi! I am a 32 year old active and healthy female with no history of back problems until October of 2016. Woke up with severe stiff back, pain, and inability to lift legs. Bed rest, massage, and back at it in a week. 

March of 2017 I was holding my truck up and lifted a 50 lb bag of chicken feed with one hand. Immediately felt funny, but not until 2 days later did I know there was a prob. Couldn't sit up, sit/stand, walk, sleep, and had pain down leg. Bed rest, stretching, walking, and 3 visits to osteopath and I was on the road to recovery. Suspected disc issue, but 2 months lately almost fully pain free. Was also lifting and working out with a personal trainer throughout the injury, but being aware of back always. 

4 weeks ago, huge sneeze, dropped me to my knees and I immediately stretched. Pain from back to toes. Had some "sciatica" annoyance for 2 weeks, but continued to workout and was able to modify positions to help the pain. Week 3, can't stand, walk, lay, bend, nothing. Calf pain out of this world, thought I had a blood clot. Back hasn't hurt much in this time frame, but now suddenly limping and in severe pain. Saw osteopath and MRI ordered due to diminished ankle reflexes and 5 day prednosione and muscle relaxers. 

Week 4, pain worse and inability to walk on toes. Few days later into week 4 and getting some reflexes back and able to walk on toes, but still severe pain, cramping, muscle atrophy, inability to sleep. Prescribed gabapentin 100 mg a.m, p.m, & 300 mg bed time. Doesn't seem to help. Waking in early hours crying and trying to walk out severe cramps. Tingling in foot, increased limping with walking, calf tightness, cold toes, and just straight up constant pain. 

MRI results: 

Large central/left  paracentral disc herniation at l5-s1, displacing the proximal left s1 nerve root sleeve and with superior migration of disc. There is also a small central annular tear at l4-l5.

Referral to neurosurgeon and told they will call based on severity. Got a call the next day after they received and reviewed my MRI  (thur) appointment scheduled for this Monday. 

I am very anti surgery, but with the nerve pain and diminished reflexes, if they suggest surgery I think I would do it. 

Wondering if anyone has same MRI findings and symptoms and if they recovered without surgery? Or if you did have surgery has your life resumed back to normal? I'm not a take it easy kinda person and I don't want the rest of my life to be me taking it easy. I'd rather strengthen my core and back and never have this happen again. 

Having surgery worries me that I will have restrictions my entire life. However my osteopath said sometimes it comes down to loss of reflexes being the key to surgery and the reason it's needed.

Sorry for the book. Thanks for reading



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,366

    hi courtneymariep!

    welcome to spine-health

    so sorry you are having this much pain. while you are waiting on other members to reply, the best place to read what other people have gone through in the same area, is surgery buddies. go to the right of the page, click on it then go to the left of the page and click on june or any other month and read the experiences there.
    you stated that the neurosurgeon would call upon severity and he called the next day. when you see him monday ask him what are your options and what damage could be caused by waiting. arm yourself with questions by the experiences here.
    take care and keep us posted.

    please click on the welcome link below as well the system tutorial for more information.

    welcome to spine health

    all new members should take the system tutorial 

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
  • Quick update. Neurosurgeon office said that they take a conservative approach first, however I have a very large impressive herniated disc that has completely compressed the s1 nerve, but no permanent nerve damage so surgery wasn't crucial...yet. Was told I didn't need physical therapy either, since I work out with a personal trainer already. I have had some improvement and am more mobile, though standing for awhile still bothers me and walking long distances causes a more severe limp. Ironically laying flat helps the most, but I just am not a sit around kinda person so I complete my day to day chores to shifts. I walk/stand for 20, lay for 20, walk/stand 20, etc. Also, finally sleeping in my own bed and even though it's restless, it's made a difference. 

    Had an ESI injection today and was told again that I have an impressive disc herniation and I need to take it easy. The doctor said most people don't have relief in 1 injection and based on my disc herniation size and the compression, if a few don't work, surgery is the next step. 

    The neurosurgeon made it seem like I would do up to 4 injections and than spinal decompression therapy if needed before surgery so not sure which doctors approach I should consider. Guess it's up to me on how much time I am willing to wait and when I would like to resume my life. 

    At this rate, if the esi injection doesn't work I would almost rather have the surgery and wait the 6-8 weeks if it means that after 6-8 weeks I will feel better than I do now. It's been almost 6 weeks now and I still don't have a normal life or activity level. 

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  • Surgery is wonderful in my opinion. I've done it twice for different discs and would do it again. Everyone has their own positive and negative experiences. You'll know when it's time for surgery because you come to a point where youd rather risk a slight chance of a negative surgery result then live on in the pain your in

  • In saying that I've had one good result (life got normal again) after waiting out the sciatica for 5months (was a slow year!). One absolutely wonderful result from a disectamy on my l4/l5 (climbing mountains 8weeks post op). Then one not so great result on surgery on l5/S1. It was still worth it. I'm not back to climbing mountains this time but I absolutely believe surgery saved me from loosimg more nerve function. My advise is if you do get surgery, you most likely will feel wonderful because life without sciatica is wonderful just like you imagine , but allow yourself to rest!! All the best hope you don't have to lay about for too much longer

  • ChairTea-this is the exact response I was looking to hear. Thank you!  Thank you everyone else as well for your encouraging words and advice. It's nice to have a resource like this, especially when you don't know anyone personally suffering from the same pains and life alterations. Sometimes it's hard for others to understand because everyone puts "back pain" into the same category. 

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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,526


    Since 1978, I have had 5 lumbar surgeries, 2 cervical, both shoulders and hips totally replaced and a reconstructive Achilles tendon surgery.

    So, Did surgery Help?    No question about.  Each time facing surgery, I developed another problem that surgery was the only answer to any real pain relief.    And that did happen after each surgery.   I was dealing with two problems, one being young and foolish, after I was feeling good after one surgery, I would go right back to doing the things, and I know many wrong things for the spine and arthritis had started to development in my spine and all joints.

    Without those surgeries, there is no question I would be wheel chair constraint.  Instead, I can still do a number of things, just have to be aware of my spine and do things a bit smarter.     

    Once you have a spinal surgery, no matter where and what it is, you always have to remember you had this and guide your life accordingly.   That does not mean you can not do anything, just that things may need to be done in moderation.    This is something that you should discuss in details with your doctors

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,526

    Courtney, while you are getting ready for your surgery, here are a list of Spine-Health medical articles plus a number of disussions. Getting ready for surgery

    Its always best to be as completely prepared as you can. There are a number of items you should take care of before surgery, while in the hospital and while you are recovering at home

    From reading your discussion, it seems you are pretty active. That is plus. The better overall shape and condition you are in can help a lot while recuperating. One thing to keep in mind. Once your surgical pain is gone, you will start to feel better. But there are always going to be ups and downs. I like to talk about that as The Roller Coaster Ride

    Just never give up and always try to maintain a positive attitude an approach to everything
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Did surgery help,  DEFINITELY 

  • Ron, thank you for the advice!! Somehow I missed the replies from earlier. My biggest fear is the after the pain is gone time frame. I don't want to reinjur. Guess everyone fears that! Thank you for the links as well. I will absolutely read them and make sure I am prepared. 

  • Tkd, I saw you said you did martial arts in another post and you don't feel quite ready yet. When were you told you could resume? 

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