Hi I'm a 41 yr old active male. I wanted to post my back experience on the net so that it might help others with similar problems.
I had a L4/L5 Disc Protrusion in 1990 and had a L4/L5 Disc Discectomy in 1991 (an operation). I was able to go back to playing hockey, skiing etc.
Three years later I developed a L5/S1 Disc Protrusion (1993). The pain was insane, where I could only stand or walk for about 1 - 2 minutes. The pain was in the top of my left buttock. That lasted for about 1 month and I was back to my usual self. Walking through the pain was probably the best exercise.
I've recently developed L5/S1 Drop Foot Dec 9, 2009. I lost all feeling in my 4th and 5th toe on my left foot. It feels like it is asleep. I have absolutely no strength in my foot where I cannot stand on my tip toes or spread my toes apart. The nerve pain is insane as it goes from my hip (inside and out) right down to my 4th and 5th toe on my left foot. I limp when I walk as I have no muscle strength to propel my numb left foot forward. I dragged my foot as I walked.
I'm not one to take medication unless absolutely required. I only took T3's (for pain) and Naproxen (muscle relaxant) when I couldn't walk. My doctor told me that 85% of people will recover within 2 to 6 months.
I went to physio for a month and half (Dec 12 - Jan 30). I was unimpressed with physio as all they wanted to do was apply heat and tens. I could have done that at home and I wasn't getting any better. They started me on traction on about the 3rd week with 75 lbs. After about the 3rd traction session I noticed that I could start to spread apart my 4th and 5th toe (a bit).
On February 12 I bought an Inverted Traction Bed and have used it every day at home. Oh, by the way the physio therapist told me that it would be a bad idea to get a traction bed. HA! I can now fully spread my toes apart and can feel the strength coming back in my foot. My foot is still numb and I limp while walking, but at least I can start to feel the strength coming back. The nerve pain has pretty much stopped.
It's now February 24, I'm no longer limping and I'm about 85% back to normal.
I'm hoping that I can stay away from another operation and will continue traction at home.
Here's the MRI Results for the L5-S1 (Dec 18, 2009) There is a large posterior and left paracentral disk extrusion. This significantly compresses and posteriorly displaces the thecal sac. The exiting nerve roots are free of compression. There is severe compression of he transiting left S1 nerve root as it passes through the left lateral recess.