For several years, I have had sciatica in my right leg and last October, I developed major cramping and numbness in my leg from something that wasn't too strenuous. I couldn't go more than 10 or 20 yards before I would have to crouch down to get the cramping to stop. After a few days it got to the point where walking ten feet to the bathroom was an almost impossible task and the safe position of crouching down was no longer there.
I went to an ER now and some quack told me to rub some Caspicin oil on my leg. No x-ray or nothing, so all this did was delay things. I then got into my GP and she got me into PT, a prescription for hydrocodone and muscle relaxer, had an MRI scheduled, and a referral to two specialists. I saw both specialists (a neurosurgeon and a orthopedic surgeon) on a Monday and both recommended surgery at first sight. It was a "massive" herniation. At this point I could stand upright for only a minute or so if I was on pain killer.
One other thing of note was the doctors and the physical therapist all indicated that I was a great candidate for surgery. All the other discs looked great as well as the structure of the spine.
I had surgery two days later on a Wednesday. It went great as well as the recovery. But the doctor said that this herniation was over the top of a lot of chronic material and a lot of material came out. In addition there were some radial fragments they could not get to. Instead of a 15%-20% chance of re-occurrence, I was over 50% and that too much material had come out that another discectomy would not be an option in the future. Also the nerve may have been the worst inflammation he had seen.
I was up walking around right after surgery and the unbearable cramping stopped immediately. I had lost a lot of strength because of the nerve and I was walking with a limp and would fall from trying to stand on my right toes. After 2 months, I was able to push up onto my toes one time and after 7 months I can now push up and down about 15 times. So I have seen some progress in strength but it is no where near as strong as my left leg. I haven't had any setbacks or occurrences, but the numbness in my thigh and foot have not gone away and I get a lot of pain in the calf area. I do feel stress on my lower back if I lay on my stomach and laying on my right side causes pain in my leg and it has been this way since surgery. It is hard to get quality sleep from turning into positions that create stress.
At my 6 month appointment, we decided to get another MRI with contrast, which I had today. I was expecting some scar tissue to explain things, but there is an obvious and substantial herniation inflaming the nerve and very little material left between the discs. I have no idea when this occurred as I was a great patient in recovery, there were no instances of note, and the pain and numbness today have been there since post surgery. But since the pain is exponentially better than pre-surgery, I just thought it was part of the healing process.
If anyone has a similar experience, I would love to hear it and what your next course of action was as well as how it worked out for you. This time I am not in dire pain and would like to get more educated on what to expect with different options. But at the same time, I know I have placed massive pressure on this nerve and while it was released somewhat 7 months ago, there is still pressure on it.