Long term problem I have had with sciatica pain in the left leg, but only this past July did it really come and kick my ass. Ended up in an emergency room for pain relief, and the physician recommended an MRI when I got home (as I was in another state when it happened).
I figured I would end up with some muscle relaxers and therapy, but after 4 weeks of pain, my doctor decided I should have an MRI on my lower back as all my indications were for a herniated disc.
Long story very short, VERY BAD herniated disc, and it probably has been for years, but now it is making my left food numb and pins and needles. Also getting small spasms in my left hamstring when seated.
So this Thursday coming is the day.... Operation will be done out-patient, 35 minutes.... WHAT?? Yeah, 35 minutes for surgery to remove the disc material, an hour recovery, and BOOM, go home. Supposed to relieve all leg pain, with only discomfort from the small incision in the back. My biggest annoyance will be two weeks no driving. No driving.. Weird... But at least two months for the disc to scar over before I am on the bike again. Half a year of riding kaput...
It's amazing and cool that we have these surgeries down to what seem to be in and out procedures.
Good luck and here's to hoping for a full and satisfactory recovery. Don't push the recovery and over do it. Do what they say to do. It's not worth the risk of poor results all to get in the car or on the bike a little earlier than expected.
It's great they can do this in an outpatient environment. I was even surprised at the 2 level cervical fusion and titanium plate install I recently went through. Surgery at 7 a.m. sharp, in my hospital room by about 11 a.m. Walking down the hall at 11:30a.m. Only a one night stay. If it wasn't for the delay from the nurses getting my paperwork in order, I would have been released for home by 10a.m. the next morning. Instead it was just after noon.
How did the surgery turn out so far and your expected recovery time? Any lingering effects from the fusion? I ask because the real thing I'm worried about is complete failure of the disc in the future and having to get a fusion, or maybe even a full disc replacement. Although the percentages are high for satisfaction after these type of surgeries for most people, there are still some who aren't and it's never detailed why they aren't satisfied with the outcome.
Surgery went well. I am at home recuperating for the next 2 weeks ( no driving allowed ). I am mobile, walking, sitting, laying down without help. The only discomfort has been the lower back incision site, and the damn constipation from the hydrocodone pain meds. Also a lot of stomach ache for a couple hours after every anti-inflammatory pill.
So far I am tapering off the pain meds to only 1 every 5 hours instead of 2 every 4 hours. Hoping to get pain med free within a few days so my digestion can get back to normal. After 2 weeks, I should be able to return to work full time, but no lifting, fortunately I don't do much of that anyway.
I already decided to wait until the Spring to begin riding again, so the lumbar disc covering (anulus) has time to fully scar over. In the meantine , I will be walking a bit, and hitting the gym for back friendly excersises to control my weight and keep strong. Really going to work on the mid-section muscle group that supports the back.
Smart move waiting to ride, once you are on the trail getting stoked it is hard to hold back. I had the same surgery on L4-L5, did the rehab, got down to 6'2 180 lbs, took it easy and still had a recurrence that required a second surgery.
As far as rehab, I had a really good PT tell me that most therapists tend to focus on core stabilization planks and things but THE most important strength to work on is legs, lunges, un-weighted squats, calf raises etc.
The best excercise for me was
you can move the band up to right above the knees, do back-pedaling, really get the butt low etc.. it really hits those stabilizers in the hips.
I bet you are feeling great by now, don't forget to be careful
So I am near the three month mark since my surgery, and there is no more pain at all from the surgical incision site, and I have not had any sciatica pain or reoccurence of pain.
The the ball of my left foot is still numb (all the time), and the orthopedic surgeon is sure it's from the bruising my sciatic nerve took when the herniated disc was pressing against the nerve root. He said it will take a while for that to heal, but the numbness will slowly diminish over time.
So far I haven't biked at all since mid July , and that sucks. But he did clear me for getting back on the bike any time I want. I did 8 visits to the Physical Therapy center, and I bought a couple of the training aids they had me using because they were cheap and easy. Mostly core strength training that is very back friendly, but also squats using a ten pound weight ball that really works the quads without straing the back.