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Herniated Disc and sciatica for 3 years - Have I left it too late for surgery?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
After a recent MRI, my orthopaedic surgeon has told me I have a slipped disc in my lower back and has suggested surgery in the form of a microdiscectomy. Sorry that this will seem like a rant, but I've got so much confusion and many questions at the moment.

Symptoms and painkillers

I am worried that I have left it too late for even surgery to have any effect. I began to notice shooting pains down my left leg and foot about 3 years ago (when I was 19) although it was fairly irregular at about once a day. The pain gradually got worse until 1 year ago I started taking ibuprofen to relieve it.

Now I'm on two x 200mg ibuprofen a day and can still feel the pain and every night I get woken up by it.

The most worrying thing for me just now is the extent of the nerve damage. More specifically, I'm concerned that the strength of my erections is diminishing. I'm praying that this is mainly to do with the extended long-term ibuprofen use, but I'm still not sure and it's difficult to go off the ibuprofen to find out because I'll be in agony and won't be able to sleep.

Weightlifting aggravating?

Throughout the time I've had the sciatic pain I have continued lifting weights at the gym 4-5 days a week. I really don't want to give it up, but I suppose if it's a herniated disc I'm going to have to. Having taken a week off from the gym there I am noticing some improvement, but still I don't want to get out of shape. Has anyone had to give up gym work like this? At the very least I've got some stretching exercises from the physio, which are probably a lot better for the lower back than strengthening exercises like deadlifts.

Muscular imbalance on my back

On my lower back, there is a massive bulge of muscle on the left side compared to the right side. Has anyone ever heard of this before? I'm assuming that by herniated disc it means a bit on the centre of my spine is bulging rather than muscle?

The microdiscectomy or other treatment options?

It should be December at the latest if I were to go ahead with a microdiscectomy. Does anyone think that with my symptoms I should give other treatments a try - e.g. acupuncture or chiro (I've heard chiro isn't worth it if it's a herniated disc)? Also is it worth getting a second opinion e.g. from a neuro surgeon?

Thanks for any thoughts on any of this!




  • I have left sciatica for 1 year . Since August, it become worse. I have numbness on left foot and weakness on leg and foot.
    I have try acupuncture and chiro already.
    I believed microdiscectomy will help me a lot.
  • I can certainly understand your concerns. What stuck-out to me is "the massive bulge of muscle" on your left side. Is this normal for weightlifters? I wouldn't think that it was associated with disc, either. I would definately see NS about your symptoms. Good luck.
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  • Hi Gav, my name is Amber and I am 22 years old. For two years, I have been suffering from multiple injuries due to a car accident. From headaches, stiffness, and sciotica pains, life as most certainly been hell. I have only seen a chiropractor for the 2 years until recently. It might not hurt to try a non surgical procedure that a chiropractor can provide for you called Spinal Decompression. It's a non surgical machine that helps try to put your herniation back in place. Now, it did not help with my herniation due to the severity, but I don't think it's too late for you. Most likely, you might even be too young, that they might not want to even operate. I am on hydrocodone 10MG and Naproxen for my pain, and that doesn't always help. I have found that ice helps as well. Working out however it a BAD move I think. I tried that as well, and all that does is aggrivate it. I would lay off that for a bit and drink plenty of water, and get several oppinions. Hope this helps,

  • Sorry that you have to deal with this at such young age.First thing first.Disk cannot bulge so much that it'll cause what you describe.This could be muscle or postural imbalance from the pain.
    Forget the dead lifts and squats with weights.This two are killers on the spine.Give yourself some rest.Do the stretching
    and ask the PT for core exercises.Then talk to your doc about conservative options.These would be higher dose of Ibuprofen, oral steroids course,physical therapy,steroid injections,etc.
    Then comes the surgery.Seek second opinion,and ask if they find any neurological deficits.Surgery should be your last option.
    Stay off the heave lifting for awhile.Give it a break for a few days.Try some ice for 20min every 2hrs along with Ibuprofen,and the stretches.
    Hope that helps.

  • Thanks for all your comments

    Just to update, I elected for the surgery and had the microdiscectomy L5-S1 on 25 March 2009.

    Still have pain in lower leg and foot, which isn't brilliant because apparently pain relief is usually immediate (it was but only because the painkillers i was taking), although I have heard that nerves take a while to heal, so perhaps the pain will get better over time.


    Gav x

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  • I just had my MicroD at L5 S1 and everyone on the board tell me to be patient and take it easy.

    Take care of yourself and keep posting about you recovery.

    I am on Day5postOp.
  • It's good to hear from you again and I hope you recover fully from this surgery. I had a micro-d back in '07 but reherniated month later. Just take things easy and don't push yourself. Walking is very important as you already know. You are physically fit and I know you'll have a positive outcome. What worked against me was that I was so deconditioned prior to hurting my back. My abs are very weak and the hamstrings are supertight. I fared poorly with PT sessions and was let go for no improvement the last time. Anyway, get well soon. Take care
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