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Discectomy - How far after injury should I get it done?

Hi All,

Background info

My first L4/5 prolaps occurred about 8 years ago. Since then it had occurred about 5 times, the latest being the worst. Each time I have opted for physical rehab which has taken about 6-9 months. On the forth occasion I also opted for a Cortisone injection which only worked for about 3 days.

This Fifth occurrence which happened 2 months ago has been the worst by far. I have a modeate –severe disc bulge at the L4/L5. The pain has been very debilitating constant sciatic leg pain. After speaking with several specialists and surgeon, it was recommended to once again try Cortisone and reassess in a few months for a potential discectomy. They both also mentioned that without a discectomy (at the rate mine has been happening) it’s likely the disc will prolaps again.

This time the cortisone has been effective, the pain is down to a level of 2/10 (from about 7/10) but I get the occasional intense burning/pain down my leg with a pain level of 9/10, this generally lasts about 2-3 mins.

My question

When’s the best time to go for a discectomy?
1. When the injury has just occurred or
2. it doesn’t matter

Although I’m feeling better, I am walking bent (list) and still experiencing the odd tingling, pain/burning down the leg. I have opted for the discectomy, as now is a convenient time in my life. I am also travelling overseas in 3 months (so I want to be fully recovered by then) and I would also like to eliminate the risk of the disc ever prolapsing again.

Considering I am feeling better, should I get the discectomy now or is it better to have it done when the disc is bulging more? I fear the Cortisone has helped the issue and if they go in for a discectomy then the will not be anything to remove.

On the flip side, the cortisone has only temporarily masked the pain and the disc is still fully budged.

I would love your feedback on this.

Thanks all.

Robbie M
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