I have loss of leg strength and patellar reflex due to herniated discs at l3-l5; do I need surgery to recover? About 9 weeks ago, I had an episode of sciatica during a hiking trip. I still have significant loss of strength in the left quadricep (especiall

Hard to say. See a pain/spine specialist to determine if surgery or more conservative care is appropriate for you.
There . There is no simple answer to this question. If you strength continues to deteriorate and patellar reflex continues to stay decreased, then , that may mean that the disc fragment is still putting pressure on the nerve that is supplying your leg. Continous pressure could cause damage that will be difficult to reverse in the future. The best way to know whether you need surgery or not is to repeat emg/ncv test in a few weeks to see if there is progression of neurological changes. Also, if you start having symptoms like urinary incontinence, severe pain or complete weakness of the leg - it is time to see a surgeon. Very often, pain from disc herniations subsides on it's own, as a disc material gets absorbed. This can take up to 6 months.
NO. Sounds as if you have a compression of your left L4 nerve. Some surgeons may disagree, but there are basically only 2 reasons for back surgery. 1. Intractible pain that no less conservative care can rid 2. Significant neurological loss such as bowel or bladder control or inability to control your limbs. First see someone board certified in interventional pain management.