I just had a discectomy/ laminectomy on my L5 five days ago. I am still all kinds of nervous regarding recovering from this kind of thing and have quite a few questions - any of you out there who have experience with this, please help!
I am a 24 year old college student and I have never had back pain/ back problems... any serious medical problems really until this happened. I have no idea what caused the disc to herniate (no car accident, nothing). Back in May I noticed my leg felt kinda weird, and that my foot was a little bit numb. I thought I had pulled a muscle or something and disregarded it. Then, my entire left foot gradually went numb, I started falling over when I'd wear heels, and then I lost the ability to move any of my toes. I figured it was a pinched nerve, but it'd work itself out. THEN, the shooting pain down my leg started. This lead to ER visits/ neurologist/ MRI = herniated disc diagnosis.
After the initial ER trip, the pain pretty much subsided. I wasn't in pain too often and the herniation wasn't too bad, but the numbness of my foot and inability to move my toes never went away. I began physical therapy and everything was going pretty great until about 3 weeks ago. I fell and caused the disc herniation to get much, much worst. Pain was a non-stop 10, I was in the ER twice in 4 days, and was barely able to walk. The pain was to the level where I could not continue with my normal life activities in any way. Pain medication did very little (even shots of delaudid in the ER). I saw my physical therapist and he was not very optimistic about being able to do much. I went back to my neurosurgeon (who is amazing) and he got a new MRI which proved the disc herniation was much more severe. The MRI was on a Thursday and I was worked in for surgery on Monday.
OK, now that I've written a short story about my journey through disc herniation - these are my questions/ concerns.
The numbness in my foot has not improved in the slightest bit. I still cannot move my toes. What are the chances this is going to get better? I actually not only have the numbness, but I also have pain on the same foot (I had this pain prior to surgery as well). I don't know how to describe it - it feels almost like my foot is very sunburned? Most people I've talked to didn't seem to recover fully from the numbness.
I am a student in a very intense major and could only afford to miss the week of classes after the surgery. I have to resume classes this upcoming week. When is it ok to drive? (I've tried to look this up and I've heard everything from 1 week - 4 weeks). Also, I am an interior design major - so I have to do a lot of sitting at a desk and working on a computer or sitting at a drafting table and drafting. What is the best way to handle having to accomplish those types of tasks? Any tips?
How long until I'm a moderately functional person again???
Last question - it feels like the numbness is almost spreading in my leg. All of the shooting sciatica type pain is gone, but today (for the first time - five days after surgery) my leg has started to feel a little odd and very mildly numb. Is this normal?
Also, any advice or tips on recovery would be greatly appreciated!
Thank-you so much!