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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

I recently had a lumbar microdisectomy (along with shaving some bone spurs) after having nearly a year of sciatic pain. There certainly has been some improvement, although when I went in the pain wasn't too bad - I had the surgery regardless as over the course of a year I had many weeks/months where things looked to be getting better so I would cancel consultations, and then WHAM! - large sciatic attack that lasted for weeks. During that time I went to a chiro that my GP recommended and physical therapy as well, the chiro however probably did more damage as she believed it was muscular related and not a herniated disc/bone spurs as it turned out when I finally got fed up and saw a surgeon (which she did her best to discourage. Grrr...). As a result I was doing extensive stretching exercises during that time and little back work - I was likely continuing to stretch the already damaged nerve irritating it further, the chiro always felt the tightness was muscle related when it was nerve related. In the remaining months before my surgery I stopped all that and had some of the better weeksI've had all year.

Ok, back to the present In terms of lower back mobility and pain when getting up quickly and walking, that's much better - I can walk for close to
an hour with little pain, albeit standing is worse. Sitting is ok, although after 20-30 minutes the pain starts to set in. Can be burning in the pinkie toes to pain down the calf, some in the buttocks, but usually in the lower leg. It's not excruciating and I can control it with extra strength Tylenol OK (can even sit through a movie relatively OK) albeit the now 2 hour commute I now have each morning & evening since our business moved isn't helping!.

So it's been about 6 weeks from the surgery, and I've heard wildly varying timeframes for sciatic healing. Nurse said 3-6 weeks, company doc which I
saw in order to get back to work said 2-3 months possibly, surgeon for follow-up which I just saw a few days ago said it could take up to 6 months.
That's not really a problem, it's just the worry that there's permanent damage. My suspicion of this is that once the back healed and I was able to
get up and walk around no problem (at about ~3 weeks ago), the level of pain really hasn't changed that much. I've read that as the nerve is healing,pain should start to move upwards along the leg. I still have pain in my toes somedays, somedays it's in the calf, buttocks, then back to the toes, etc. 3 days ago I had very little pain, today more - there doesn't seem to be a definite pattern, and it can change during the day. As well, the type of pain described most often to me when the nerve is healing is "fireworks", that really doesn't describe this - it goes from a burning to a dull ache, and can even jump across to the left leg at times (though not the same severity and duration). Strength in the leg is not bad, the nerve is still tight though - forget about getting anywhere near my toes when stretching. I can get almost complete relief lying still on my side at least, so sleeping is not that much of a problem so I'm lucky in that regard - albeit again, that really wasn't a problem right before the surgery (and fact may have been a little better in the weeks leading up to it).

I start physical therapy next week so we'll see if that actually does anything this time. I just being a nervous ninny, or is the fact I'm not completely pain-free at this point an indication there is still a source of pressure on the nerve or permanent nerve damage?

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