In late December I had extreme pain shooting down my right leg. After a week or so my entire leg went numb all the way down to the foot. I went to the doctor whom immediately diagnosed me with sciatica. After no relief I went to a chiropractor who worked on me. Again, after no relief, and being in extreme pain and numbness I went for an MRI. The MRI revealed a really bad herniation at L5/S1. The chiropractor was extremely concerned because I was approaching the "3 month" mark of numbness and apparently at that time I risk permanent nerve damage. I went and saw a neurosurgeon yesterday who confirmed the "3 month" story. He said the only true option is surgery, mainly because the disc is so far out and is shaped like an arrow. He told me that there was no chance of it ever going back in and relieving the pain. Therefore, we scheduled a Lumbar Diskectomy/Laminectomy.
My question is, with a disc herniation apparently this bad and numbness for so long, is surgery the right and possibly only option?
I do not normally recommend surgery to anyone unless he/she is willing to risk the possibility that surgery might make matters worse. The surgical option is a personal choice.
With that said, if a healthy individual came to me with an obvious radiculopathy caused by a large extruded herniated disc , I send that individual to a surgeon sooner rather than later. If the disc is the only problem and is clearly the cause of active nerve damage, a discectomy is a good option that usually has good results.
Will the numbness resolve completely? Not neccessarily. Will you be painfree? Not neccessarily? But the odds are good, not guaranteed. Could it get worse with surgery? Maybe.
You could decide not to have surgery. If that is the case, odds are you will continue to have some nerve problems. The problems may be stable or the problems could progress. Sometimes epidural injections can calm things down a bit and let the dust settle before you go into surgery.
I wish I could give you a black or white answer. But this world is full of gray because everyone is different. Even with the best medical evidence to proceed down a particular pathway, getting from point A to point B is an individual journey.
Dr. Christina Lasich, MD
Thank you so much for your opinion Dr. Lasich. I understand that every patient is different and that there really is no black or white here. What I do know is that this is pain that I do not want to deal with and want to take an aggressive approach in attempting to fix it. I was in a pretty bad car accident almost 10 years ago and have lived in pain ever since. 3 MRI's back then revealed a total of 7 disc bulges or herniations. I had a percutaneous lumbar disectomy which helped tremendously. I am not afraid of surgery, but was curious about others insights. My chiropractor stated that in 25 years of doing what he does, he has never seen such a large herniation. I would post a picture of it, but I don't think I can do that here. I guess I will hope for the best! Thanks again, Jeremy.
Hey Back pain sufferer,
I definitely can relate to your claim and I am praying to almighty God for all of us to be healed. I absolutely dispize the nervous wreck I have become because of the sciatica and numbness and "stupid leg " My left leg goes numb and I while walking even a very short distance start to drift left and hit my shoulder on the doorway I am trying to enter. I just wish a spine Dr. would experience the trama and fustration I go through in just one day of work. There is no ergonomic solution no relief no empathy no nothing for us. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. The sleep cycle of the back pain sufferer is herriffic and I have to be exhausted and have a few beers and take my sleep medicine just to actually sleep for two hours....... My relief will come when JESUS CHRIST calls me to heaven... Then I can get some relief and some well deserved sleep.
Please keep praying that is all we can do...
Love and Great respect for all us Back Pain sufferers, Jay