I spent a good amount of time yesterday looking over previous posts related to a similar condition I'm experienceing. I didn't want to hijack the similar thread recently posted by "Nick" but I could not find one post here where anyone was back to normal (100%). Most would describe 80% or a pain level around 2-3 as being "liveable". Either people do not return a post or we are stuck with living with some amount of pain.
I'm 30 year old male who received an MRI report late February which showed a disc herniation at L5-S1 level. To make a long story short, In January, I developed a slight pain at my sciatic nerve which my doctor suggested PT to relieve the piriformis. A month later and the pain migrated down my leg to the point where I only had 15 degrees of motion in my left leg. An MRI reveiled the disc herniation. I then started the long process of meeting with neurosurgeons (some were 3 weeks out). I met the first and felt real confident. He gave me 3 options. Live with it and try PT to relieve the pain, Epidural steroid injections, or operate to shave the disc. I chose the injections as I described I had limited time (I'll get to that later). I then had to wait to meet with an anesthesiologist (sorry for spelling). In the meantime, I decided to stop in and visit a chiropractor. The chiropractor educated me for the first time on what was going on. He explained that the previous flexion excercises (to relieve the piriformis) were ultimately doing more harm than good. He had suggested the opposite, extension excercises and follow "Mckenzie" protocol. He said this could utimately push the disc nucleus back in place and make the pain go away. I felt somewhat relieved.
Over the course of that weekend (between chiropractor visit and anesthesioligist), I followed those extension excercises and the pain only got worse. I decided to go ahead with the first injection which I received on 3/21. The injection was unsuccessful. They were only able to administer about 25% of the cortisone because every bit injected shot a pain down my leg. The result was that the area was too inflamed to administer the full shot. It was decided to place me on predisone and wait 2 weeks for the inflamation to subside and try again. The anesthesioligist said I need to pretty much do absolutely nothing for 2 weeks. DIFFICULT FOR ME TO DO!
Where I have conflict is between what the chiropractor is suggestion (mckenzie protocol) and the opposing views of the neurosurgeon and anesthesiologist. They described that it is only successful in about 5-10% of pateints. That the outer disc is torn, it will never heal, the herniation will always be there and with my condition, it's the swelling around the nerve that is pinching the nerve, not the disc so the excercises could potentially irritate the inflamation further. Not sure what to do? I hear that Doctors hate chiropractors....
Getting to my work situation.... As I described, this came about back in early January and my job requires me to do alot of extensive traveling for short to long duration and perform construction (which isn't the best for back related injuries). I had told ALL doctors that I had a long project starting first week of april. Between all the waiting, doctors visists, etc., here I am the last week in march and Our company had to scramble to find another employee to take my place. This makes me extremely upset and somewhat depressed/concerned for my job. On top of that, many household exterior projects have been put on hold in a time where we have had perfect weather...
1. Do people ever fully recover from a disc herniation?
2. Am I to assume that the disc will always be herniated and I now have to think "back smart" for the rest of my life?
3. I'm about a week into "doing nothing" and taking predisone. So, I'll continue to follow the anesthesiologists recommendation but does the extension excercise routine further inflame the area?