First post, don't know my way around the forum well enough to do a proper search, so any links to other discussion are most welcome. About 4 months ago I blew my L4/L5 disc while crouching (not bending down, but crouching) to pick something up. The pain was excruciating, and I felt the tingling/burning shoot down my left leg into my foot instantly. From there the pain was low level when standing, horrible when sitting, moderate when lying down. That lasted for a couple weeks, then I went off all the pain meds because the pain was gone. The numbness in the outer calf and ankle and top of the foot did not go away, however, so I'm quite weak on the left side. I do not have pain when sitting or standing, and I can do pretty much anything that a 70yo needs to do day-to-day. But I'm 40 with two young kids, I have a very active lifestyle, and I actually enjoy certain types of outdoor exercise. So there are a lot of things I want to keep doing for a few more decades.
I had the MRI about 4 weeks after the injury, and the image is very clear - "large paracentral disc extrusion measuring 23 x 11 mm compresses the descending L5 nerve root." The Ortho team took one look at the MRI and said let's get you a discectomy. The system being what it is, they figured it would take about three months to get me onto the books. Meanwhile, I've been seeing a physiotherapy team regularly, a chiropractor and an osteopath (don't judge me here, I'm doing whatever I can to avoid surgery! My strength has improved considerably on the left side, I can now go up on my toes most of the way (not all the way), and I've been doing barefoot jogging in grass without incident for the past few weeks, a bit at a time. The numbness has not gone away at all. And I also cannot lift my toes against any pressure (with the foot planted flat on the floor, I cannot raise my toes more than a few mm off the floor, the toes of the other foot come up maybe 60º by comparison). I can flex the ankle up, but the toes won't come. They can resist barely any pressure. I'm finally on the docket for surgery on Halloween, L4/L5 discectomy, and I'm going in to see the surgeon very soon for a last "do I really really need this" pep talk.
I realize a lot of people on here have real, serious pain and misery, and I'm complaining about numb toes and foot with a fair bit of weakness, but I'd love to know of any experiences where people have had numbness with no pain and they have decided to either 1) go conservative and wait more than 4 months and see how things develop or 2) go with the discectomy and hope for 100% recovery. I've had my share of major and minor operations (this is relatively minor, based on my past experience), and I know what can go wrong and really wrong and so on, so no need to tell me stories about doctors accidentally installing evil robotic implants into spines or anything like that. But personal experiences of progress or otherwise with and without surgery would be most welcome. And as I said at the outset, any internal forum links to relevant discussion would also be most welcome. Thanks for anything and everything!