I am so happy that this forum exists - it offered me great comfort (and sometimes scared the crap out of me) pre and post op
so thank you to everyone who shares their stories.
Here is mine:
I am female, 29 years old and about a 1.5 years ago I moved a very heavy wood framed bed by myself and the next day I could barely move. I went and had a CT Scan done and it showed that I had small disc bulges at L4/5 and L5/S1 and moderate spinal canal stenosis.
Throughout the year I had problems here and there - some days I couldn't lift my left leg - some days I had a horrible pinch on the left hand side of my buttocks, kind of above it. Some days I couldn't stand up straight, but I was managing. Anyhow, this went on and off with episodes occurring about once every 2 or 3 months. Sometimes so bad that I had to take time off of work.
I had an episode happen in July and couldn't get in to see my PT so I opted to go and see an Osteopath instead. Wow do I regret it. I explained to him that I had 2 disc bulges and even brought my CT Scan report etc. he said that judging by my lack of mobility and pain when leaning backwards and forwards that something was definitely "tethering" the nerve. I had been to an Osteopath before, but not this one in particular, and have never been adjusted a la Chiropractor styles by an Osteo either.
That should've been my first warning. He proceeded to lay me on the table and started cracking away. Twisting me here, cracking me there. I should have said something but I thought "he knows what he's doing".
The next day I could barely walk, I have never in my life been in so much pain. I had no radiculopathy, or sciatica at all though, just horrible horrible pain in my lower back. It felt like my pelvis had been dislocated. So I went to the hospital where they did an x-ray to make sure nothing skeletal had been damaged, gave me some oxycodone and sent me on my way (which by the way did hardly anything at all). Because I wasn't presenting any neuro symptoms they sent me home.
About a week later I went to the Dr. (as I couldn't get out of bed) and he ordered an MRI. It showed that both discs were still protruding but that the one at L4/5 had a tear in it and there was narrowing on the left side of the nerve root. His diagnosis was that the Osteo may have tore the disc when he irresponsibly twisted and cracked me but at that stage I still didn't have any worrying neuro symptoms at all.
2 weeks went on, and I was getting better. On August 7th though I noticed that I couldn't really feel my 2 toes and my leg started to give out on me. Like I was weak in the knee on the left side. On the Monday I went to work and as time wore on I was experiencing SEVERE sciatica and couldn't feel my foot and half of my calve. By Thursday I could barely walk and I couldn't straighten out, it was like my whole body had gone lopsided and any pressure on my left leg was agony.
I went to the Doc and he sent me straight to emergency. I lost control of my bladder, couldn't feel anything they were doing (i.e. sharp/dull), had no strength in my left foot and was admitted to hospital straight away.
They did an MRI and compared it to the one I had done about 2 weeks prior and it showed that disc at L4/5 was now a very large herniation and that it had herniated in an unusual way (it apparently herniated up). It was near fully compressing my left nerve root and was basically having a party in my back (that I was not invited to).
While waiting for the Neurologist to come to my bed, my boyfriend and I prepared for them to tell me that I'd need the CT Guided Steroid injections - in came the Neuro and at his flanks his registrars, who abruptly told me that I needed surgery to remove the disc. I was shocked. He was a great Dr., he told me everything that would be involved and gave me a night to think about it (much to my relief - mainly so I could Google search the heck out of him) and it turns out he isn't a pro-surgery neuro surgeon and he is one of the best surgeons in the country.
So, given that I was incontinent and while it could have healed on it's own, the chances that I would incur permanent nerve damage were pretty high anyways so I opted for the operation. Especially if a neuro who wasn't pro-surgery was telling me to do so.
I had the surgery on August 17th and was able to walk around only a few hours after my procedure. Much to my delight, I was able to stand up straight and was immediately relieved of the horrible pinch, sciatica and 90% of the numbness in my calve, foot, and toes. My surgeon said that it was much worse when they got in there and that the disc came out "like a baby watermelon" and was "pinching the bejeezus out of the nerve". I was sent home the very next day.
I immediately started my walking program, however, I did not go outside to walk for the first week. Instead, I walked "on the spot" and around my house whilst watching movies on my iPad. I tried my best not to stay in bed, although, I did listen to my body so if I felt tired, I rested. I did hardly any sitting at all - it was either standing or laying down. I had only some sporadic pinching in my calve that went away as quickly as it came. Into the second week I started my walking program around the block, gradually increasing it every day.
I am 5 weeks post op, returning to work this week. I kinda freaked out because I had some pinching and burning pain in my leg but I've been told that this is totally normal because the nerve is still quite sensitive and with the increased walking (4km a day now), pro-longed sitting (although I do try and stand and work, instead of sitting at my desk and I walk around every 30min), that I should still expect some residual tingling, burning, pain, here and there. My neuro also told me that the nerve was really damaged so that I may experience these symptoms for up to 6 months.
I feel great and am so glad that I had the surgery done. I know that this is not the case for everyone, and I really feel for anyone who lives in chronic pain. I also am under no guises that I will live a happy pain free life and that if not careful, could potentially re-herniate and will have ongoing back problems but for me this was the best option.
I was really angry with the Osteo initially, but have since let go of my anger. I know that Osteo's and Chiro's really help some people, but for me, I will never EVER go back to one ever again. This sentiment was shared by my neuro-surgeon who see patients like me that end up getting injured them. So PT all the way for me now!
I'm not a doctor and cannot offer medical advice, but to anyone just recovering from a Microdiscectomy - keep the faith and don't expect to be 100% cured of your symptoms. Whenever I feel pain or burning I just tell myself that my nerve is telling me to rest, and so I do. Listen to your body!
I haven't started Physio yet but will do so after the 6 week mark. I am also going to start my core strength exercises, stationary bike etc. as well to make sure I keep myself in tip-top shape! If anyone has any other post op exercise tips please share.
Thank you for all that took the time to write out there stories on this forum, it has really helped me in my recovery and I hope I can do the same for other people.
Good luck to everyone out there who has or is thinking about having any back procedures done.