I just found this site and am already relieved to find a group of folks in a similar situation to my own.
I'm a 45-year-old busy mom, professor, and a serious athlete. I thought I strained my piriformis last spring while coaching track practice. I had mild to moderate sciatic pain, deep-buttocks cramping and spasm, tingling and cramping in my left quadriceps, sometimes running down my leg and into my foot. I had increasing discomfort, but was able to continue running. I started a half marathon on November 9 in a fair amount of pain, but I figured I would finish the race and call my doctor in the morning. At the 7-mile mark, I could no longer control my leg and foot, and I was in excruciating pain and I dropped out of the race.
An MRI the next day showed that I had a severely ruptured L4/L5 disc (3 herniations--my surgeon said it was the worst herniated disc he'd ever seen), and ominous bulges in my L5/S1 and L3/L4 discs. The inflammation was so bad that they had to hold off on surgery for 4 days while they pumped me up with steroids. I had a microdiscectomy and laminectomy on 11/14/08. I've been recovering really well--I walked 2 miles a week after surgery and have increased to 4 miles a day, getting faster and stronger every day. I've been back at work since Thanksgiving.
My only concern has been continuing nerve pain. When I saw my surgeon at 3 weeks post-op, he prescribed Neurontin. I've been taking 200 milligrams 3x a day. It works pretty well, but I am discouraged that the pain is still up to about a 7 sometimes. I've been doing my PT regimen faithfully, and I haven't done any lifting, running, or straining, but I'm doing a lot of walking (on the treadmill, up to 4.5 miles an hour) and standing for extended periods. I can't re-rupture the disc just from these activities, can I? As I've been reading some of your posts, both the pain and anxiety sound normal. It does seem to resolve itself if I rest and take Tylenol or Advil.
I'm eager to start exercising again, but I am also panicky about the possibility of further injury. I know everyone's recovery is different, but I'm looking for encouragement from folks who've been through this.
Thanks for reading, and for any wisdom you can share...