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Failed back surgery are the percentages right.

From: Sam227 - on 05/01/2010 9:41pm

I am having a fusion and leminectomy in July. My pain management doctor said I have a 33% chance of being pain-free after surgery. Does anyone think that percentage is off a lot because people don't want to go back to work? You think people are just looking for the free services for life? Back surgery is a major surgery for all of us. It would be a lot nicer if the percentage was a lot higher that get better. Please let me know your thoughts. I am unable to do almost anything now. My choice is surgery even at 33% .

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on 05/01/2010 10:36pm

Sam, i was in your exact same shoes due to being rear-ended by 2 pickup trucks. I ended up having a fusion in July 2007 L5S1 and then in April 2008 a second surgery to remove a large bone spur impinging my L5 and S1 nerve roots. The results? I am still in pain, both in my back and down my right leg. I am some better, but i had a 2 year checkup with my surgeon in April and he stated I have post laminectomey syndrome with nerve damage. The success rate I hear is 50% and typically you can expect to still have pain. I am on pain meds, which i do not want to be on, but can not function without the medication. By the way, medication takes the edge off the pain it does not alleviate it completely.
Have you looked into the doctors that are utilizing the new ACCURASCOPE? I know [Editor's note: doctor's name removed. Please do not mention doctors by name in the Community.] of a doctor in Dallas is performing this pocedure and would definately make an appointment with him prior to having open spine surgery, You have nothing to lose by checking into it.

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on 05/02/2010 6:59am

My insurance I have right now won't pay for laser surgery. I had a friend that had done it done a year ago it was good for 30 days. She paid for it herself it sounded so good. Then the pain was back about the same. My insurance has paid for different procedures for me that they didn't have to. In their eyes they don't think laser surgery is right for me. Thank you for your thoughts.

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on 05/03/2010 10:13pm

I had 3 necessary back surgeries. Being in chronic pain for years I was told my only options were a spinal fusion or medication/pain clinic. Got the opinion of 3 top neurosurgeons who advised against the fusion - all likelihood I would be in just as much pain. Get a second opinion on the spinal fusion. I think your doctor is right on when he says 33%-and maybe percentage is even less. Totally understand how you feel about having surgery but many problems of "failed back" can't be solved with fusion. Has more to do with scar tissue buildup which impedes on nerves, damaged nerves, degenerated discs, etc. No way people use this as a means to free services or not to work. I would give anything to be able to function without pain but with or without the fusion, you will live in pain.
Good luck to you

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on 05/04/2010 12:02am

Well surgery should always be the last resort but if the 33% chance after the procedure then that is pretty good percentage. Of course when I had mine surgery they told me that there is less than 24% chance to be pain free. But pain free is in the eye of the beholder.

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on 05/04/2010 2:55am

Back surgery is more to stabilize the spine than it is to provide pain relief. If that's the reason one has surgery, then more than likely, they will be disappointed. It may or may not help to reduce ones pain...everyones different. I would rather work than be on any ssi cuz I could not live off that nor raise my kids off the small amounts ssi would give a person. So having back surgery for me wouldn't be a "free ride" for anything. I had posterior fusion surgery with instrumentation along with several other procedures at l5/s1 on feb 22nd of this year. I won't be medically released to go back to work until at least june 22nd. I can't wait to be able to resume making an income!!

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on 05/04/2010 6:19pm

My question was if anyone else thought that the percentage was so low on the success of back surgery because people want to collect SSI or any insurance. I know so many people that are on employment till two weeks before it runs out. Then they get a job. That means they could of got a job before the end of their insurance. So do you think some people are lying saying they are disabled so they can get a free money. Again I am having a laminectomy and fusion. I can't pick up a pizza box. I wish the percentage was higher than 33%. In my case which everyone is different. I'm having surgery to fix a problem that causes pain. So if I'm fixed I should be pain free. Thank you for your thoughts

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on 05/04/2010 11:33pm

I really think 33% is on the upper end after having a fusion and laminectomy. In August 2008 I had a laminectomy and 4 level fusion after I fell from a ladder onto my hardwood floor and fractured my hip, fractured a vertebrae and herniated two discs. I went to a pain mgnt. Dr. first, went through injections, denervation, pain meds, and ended up having the fusion out of sheer desperation from pain. I am almost 2 years post and I am doing worse than I was before the surgery. The surgery did not reduce my pain more than 20% at the very most and for a short period of time then the disc just above the fusion herniated as well, now I am told this is common, and if they fix this one the one above that will most likely herniate, its a domino effect. I am one of those statistics that cannot go back to work, in fact I was replaced after being off work. for 8 weeks. I would love to be able to get out of bed in the morning and actually have a purpose but at lease two or three days a week I can't even get out of bed. I thank god I have a supportive family it has changed the lives of my daughter and husband as well, they now help with cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and even putting on my socks and tying my shoes. After enduring all I have I now understand how pain can effect your life,any why a large number of people that have this surgery end up just like me. When people say about how others don't want to go back to work after their surgery it irritates me, i've been through it, I would much rather be a productive human than one that is in pain and miserable all the time. Its a terrible surgery, nobody knows unless they've been through it. Get two or three opinions, then pray a lot, then sit back and ask yourself if you could handle living with the physical restrictions the surgery and pain can cause. I went into surgery with great expectations. I had no idea how my life would change in the few hours I was asleep for the surgery!!!!!!!!!!

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on 05/05/2010 3:55am

I think personally that those percentages are probably right. I haven't had sugery yet and now after reading and reading, I'm scared to death. I can't do squat right now and it has a big impact on my marriage. I'm the old fashioned housewife who does everything for her lazy-mommy-did-everything-raised husband. I used to be happy doing everything for my hubby, but now I'm frustrated because I can't. There is only one surgery I would like to have and it's for the ACADIA system. I swear I qualify for the clinical trial...all except I live too far away. Fusion is one thing that scares me most, even before reading everyone's experiences. I don't want to have to rely on SSI, but I had no choice and had to apply for it...my epidurals are killing us money wise, and there is no way I can work with the pain and all the meds I'm on. The rest of the family has insurance either through the VA or through the state, but of course I don't qualify for it. I personally don't think people on spine universe are looking for free services, I truly believe in their pain, just like you have the pain and I have the pain.
I do wish you the best of luck in what ever you choose to do. I pray you will be in the 33 percent that has a successful surgery with a no-pain outcome. Keep up the faith and do alot of praying!

Keep us posted, we'd like to hear a success story!

Wendi

P.S. There are alot of pain management doctors out there that want to be your God and don't want you to have surgery, so they use those numbers to scare people away from surgery too! If you do get pain free, they lose money in the long run...no more kick backs from meds, no more epidurals, etc. Just my opinion and experience with pain management.

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on 05/05/2010 9:01am

I would like to add a postscript to my post which I may have posted solely as to my present condition. One's age definitely needs to be taken into account. I had my first surgery @ age 25, my second @ age 31 and my 3rd many years later. I was fully functional after my surgeries. Worked, raised 2 kids on my own, took care of a home. I had occasional setbacks but was able to do these things with minimal medication. But what I have learned is that with time and passage of years , the areas of spine that are operated on eventually lead to degeneration, arthritic conditions, scar tissue, and other problems. So, your age has a lot to do with how well you will function

However, a spinal fusion will impede on your range of motion and will probably hinder certain activities but again, the "failed back syndrome" is not due to failed surgeries, but as I said before, has to do with continual pain caused by scar tissue, degeneration, other problems as we progress in age.

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on 05/06/2010 1:08am

I had an L4-L5-S1 fusion in July of 2005. My surgeon told me, prior to surgery, that in my particular situation, the chances for a successful surgery were 80-85%. This was in reply to a concern I expressed after doing a lot of research on the surgery and finding that, at best, the odds for my particular surgery were 40-60%. Not great odds, but I had gone through all the more conservative treatments (physical therapy, lots of epidurals, trigger point injections, etc.) and believed that this was the only option I had left.

Well, five years out of surgery and I'm MISERABLE! I feel worse than I did prior to surgery. I'm on so many narcotic drugs that most people can't believe I'm even upright, let alone holding down a full-time job. I continue to go through injections, epidurals and all other types of guesswork that my pain docs can think of. I currently have a duragesic intrathecal pain pump installed in me. The first six weeks after surgery, I felt great! I was able to wean myself off of methadone and cut down by 50% on the other pain meds I was taking. I was so excited!

But one day it was as if someone pulled the plug on the pump. The pain returned and even though the pain doc has tried increasing the medication in the pump and even changing medications in it, I'm back to being on all the drugs I was on pre-op (for the pump). We're still experimenting with drugs. Now my pain doc is thinking that either it's (the pain) all in my head (so they're CUTTING BACK on the medication being dispensed via the pump!) or I have some problem with my nerve endings being compromised and the only way to fix that is to completely remove all the pain medications!

I would give ANYTHING to be off the drugs - I HATE being dopey all the time, nearly falling asleep while I'm driving and while I'm at work. But they are the only thing that makes the pain at least bearable enough to make it through the day.

I guess the morale of my story is... do your homework and think very long and hard before you take the step of having fusion surgery. Ironically, I have a co-worker who had the EXACT same surgery me, on the same day, with the same surgeon, immediately after my surgery, and he's had great results and is in great shape, working out (he's a cop) and having very little back pain, only occasionally. So it can work. But go into it, if you decide to, with as much knowledge as possible and understand that there is a chance that you will come out of the surgery (which is irreversible) in worse shape than you are now.

I wish you the best of luck and hope that whatever your decision, you find a solution to your back pain. I wouldn't wish this affliction on anyone!

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on 05/06/2010 11:04am

I am sooooo tired of pain docs thinking that all this pain is in our head!!! Hello??? They must think we like dumping all of our money into their pockets. I had a nurse tell the doctor that she thought I was faking it...I overheard what she said, and I was pissed off big time. I still can't stand to see that woman. I'd love to go to another pain clinic, but I'm out in the middle of BFE (bum fricken egypt) (not really), but it sure feels like it. I am having my big bout with depression and my poor hubby doesn't know what to do. I am sooo far behind on utility bills because I keep forgetting to pay them..cable was shut off yesterday and of course it IS my fault, but back off family. I feel soo alone in this house sometimes because nobody knows what the hell I'm going through. I finally broke down and cried last night...and everyone knows that crying does nothing for the pain. I have my appt with my pain docs next thursday and they do piss tests (just something else I have to pay for), so using something that I know works for the pain is out of the question for the next week. Iowa is talking about legalizing marijuana for medical use and I cross my fingers they do it. I know where to get the stuff right now, but can't touch it....for another week. I don't want to increase my meds, my head is soo messed up as it is, but I will use marijuana in small doses because it works. don't have to smoke it, I can eat a brownie or drink a tincture and the pain is gone and I still have my clear head. I just don't need to get busted for it with the pain docs. I signed my pain contract many many years ago before "Medicinal" was brought up to me. I tried it once and wow...where did the pain go? But sure felt guilty because of that damn contract I signed. I know it is legal in the Iowa books, but they are gonna send it through legislature first. DOn't know if the pain docs will allow it or not, but if it's legal...I'm gonna touch it and not worry about the testings anymore. I know alot of people don't believe in it, saying it's a gateway drug...like morphine and oxy isn't??? People don't die from marijuana, they die from morphine and oxy.

I know this is a discussion for back pain, but when I see that a doctor thinks someone is faking their pain, I get mad. HOW DO THEY KNOW? DO we have to be physically bruised on the outside for them to know? I know I risk being thrown out of pain management, but they aren't helping me now except for pushing the drugs on me. They are the real drug pushers and we pay for their opinions on OUR bodies. If I could go back and go to school all over again I would and I would make a clinic that TRULY understands PAIN. I wouldn't charge butt loads of money, especially if what ever procedure didn't work. Make a donation, be pain free! But I can' t afford to go back to school and I don't have money to start up a world wide clinic for all of us pain sufferers. So, it's back to living with it and them. Think I'm gonna go start up the "medicinal" discussion. See you there!

Wendi

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on 05/06/2010 1:16pm

To Wendiann:

I also replied to your discussion re: medicinal marijuana.

I read your post here and it sounds kind of like me. The isolation is horrible! We finally put hand controls on one of our cars and I am getting out a little bit (talk about a strange experience after driving regularly for years!). I also feel for my husband. He does a lot of what gets done around the house but he has a high pressure job and is so stressed out most of the time he can't sleep. I know the feeling 'cause if I get 6 hours that's a long time.

There's a lot of guilt involved when you have chronic pain. You feel guilty for having people do things for you, guilty 'cause you can't attend functions, guilty 'cause you may sleep a long time (not my problem obviously). All I can say is hang in there and try to find a pain management doctor that you like. I myself am on my third, the first insisted a spinal cord stimulator was for me, the second that an intrethacal pain pump was the answer, and the last one put me on meds one of which is Lyrica, which doe seem to help for nerve pain. I may still have to get the pain pump; I'll see what happens in the future.

Good luck to you and let us know how you're doing.

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on 05/07/2010 6:38am

I had fusion and leminectomy in October 2009, I still suffer from severe pain and have been told that this can continue for up to 2 years. I was told thatthe success rate was about 90%, which I now doubt everyday. I have sufferd for so long now that i no longer sit at home. I have designed a special bed for use in the living room and outside and on occassion take it to work, it enables me to not sit causing pressure on the spine. I find using this helps to d degree, however the fact remains that the pain will not subside for a considerable amount of time.

If you havent had the surgery i suggest you look into it seriously before agreeing. Yes the pain in my leg is gone, but my quality of life has not yet resumed to what it was before my accident. I suffered for 2 years before agreeing to have the sugery and now some days I wish I had never had it.

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on 05/07/2010 8:00am

Sam,

In re-reading your post, I realized I did not address your main concern in my previous comment. My belief is, in regard to your concern that perhaps the success rate is so low because some people are looking to get disability status: assuming that most doctors are competent and altruistic, and would not offer to do a fusion surgery on someone unless there was a real need, it's hard to imagine that someone needing the surgery is thinking about much more than finding a way to get out of the pain they're in. The small number of people I know who have gone through the surgery, including myself, were simply desperate to escape the pain and disability brought on by the pain. We knew the surgery was a serious one, with risks, and that the odds weren't all that great. But we had all endured about six months of physical therapy, injections, epidurals, and other forms of torture that, ultimately, did not help our situations.

So we went into the back surgery as a last resort to try to restore our lives back to some sort of normalcy, not as a way to ultimately seek disability benefits. I think people who have that goal as a final outcome would probably not opt for the pain and suffering of such a major surgery. Of course, I'm sure there are the exceptions to this, but I have to believe it's a very small percentage.

I believe the percentages of success/failures are probably pretty accurate. I know that, after being one of the unfortunates whose surgery did not work, I would give anything in the world to escape the constant pain, all the pain medications I have to swallow all day long, the fog I'm in, and the fight every minute of the work day to remember things and remain competent enough to KEEP my job. I've had a close friend advise me to look into disability benefits and I nearly fell off my chair! It never occurred to me that, given my situation, I may HAVE to, one day, file for disability! No thanks! I want to work until it's time to retire. I will go through every test, every procedure (and believe me, I've been through A LOT of them, and continue to!) that has any chance of identifying what is causing my pain so that, one day, I can live out the remainder of my life without all the drugs and debilitating pain. Again, best of luck to you with your surgery!

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on 05/07/2010 8:50am

I understand what you are saying, and i agree, a lot of people do use it as an excuse to go for benefits and to give up earning an honest days income. I went back to work 2 weeks earlier than i was told by my surgeon. The bed i designed did help as I spend a lot of time sitting at a desk now since my injury. I could have qualified for disability benefits, but i prefer to work.

I wish you luck with your recovery too, it is slow and painful, somedays unbareable, but I get by with the thought that there is always someone somewhere in more pain than me.

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on 05/07/2010 10:06am

I know personally that I'd love to be able to go back to work. I loved being an office manager and accountant, but have to live now on the realization that I can't do it again because of the pain and the lack of attention span I now have due to the meds I'm on. I can't pay my bills on time, and it's not just the money part of it, it's the "oh crap, did I pay that?" and then forget about it two mins later. I write everything down now...hubby rags on me for it because I write down the littlest thing like which store I have to go to...I forget everything..I'll be writing out a check and forget who I am...duh..."what's my name..." And no employer around here is gonna put up with me having to lay down a couple times an hour and forgetting who the clients are, especially because there are alot of unemployed people around here who need jobs. And I wouldn't pass the drug test because of the opiates I'm on and the barbituates and the natural stuff that works. My biggest challenge for the week is running the sound system at church and making sure I'm on top of my game while doing it. To alot of us, it would be a big challenge because of the fog we are in. That's one job that I do have, it's not a paid job, but it is a major resposibility for me....and it does keep my mind busy.

I'd love to not have to apply for SSI, but where is the money gonna come from to pay for all the procedures and meds? My hubby makes less than 400 a week and we have 5 in the family. We don't go out to eat except for when it's work related and then it's only the two of us. He's on call 24/7 so getting a second job is out of the question. And I do need him to take me to my appts and run errands for me.

I know of people who are able to work and file for disability just because they like the money and want all they can get for free. I can't stand people like that who are abusing the system, it makes it harder for those of us who really need it.

Just my opinion....

Wendi

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on 05/08/2010 3:22am

Wendi, I see your point entirely, I too have those days when the pain is so intense that I cannot think straight. To sit for 9 hours at work is most painful and walking is almost impossible. I feel terrible because I cant help my wife around the house like I used to, and having been a farmer, I am used to being out on the lands and working with the horses and cattle. So yeah I am very frustrated now having to work in an office. My fusion is all the way from L1 through to S1, so I have severely limited lower body movement.

The rules here prevent me from saying too much about the beds I have designed, however I can say that it is a tremdous help, because I do not have to sit all day, I can take the weight off my back yet still be in a position to carry on working. So, maybe I am more fortunate that you. I am not sure how to go about getting my information out to al of you back pain suffering brothers and sisters out there, without getting myself banned from this forum for advertising. I know that my beds will assist a lot of you with being able to lead a relatively normal life, definatley less painful and a lot more social.

I fully understand the pain and frustration you are going through, and reading the comments of others on here in the same situation as us, I can only say that pain killing tablets evetually stop working and that no matter how many you take or how frequently, the pain is always there.

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on 05/08/2010 3:03am

Wendiann, my heart goes out to you hun, and everyon else that posted here!! *hugs*

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on 05/08/2010 6:44am

I thank you all for your comments and experiences. If the surgeon tells us we need a fusion we are in pretty bad shape to start with. I'm lucky I have an honest pain management doctor. She is the one that told me about the 33% success rate. She lives about a half mile from my home a neighbor. That could be why she's honest. I would be real mad if I was told I had a 90% chance of success and found out it was only 33%. We are real lucky to have spine universe real people to talk to about our pain/lives. In my discussion I was hoping the percentages were higher. I was trying to related it to insurance fraud. We all know there are a lot of dishonest people out there. Thanks again guys keep posting

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on 05/08/2010 12:09pm

Kirk and everyone else...thanks for your thoughts. I personally don't think anyone of us is worse off than the other in here. We all have the sleepless nights and the pain and the depression and all the crap that goes with back problems. I hope and pray for all of us.
Kirk, it would be great to see what you came up with and I understand that you would more than likely be booted from here for advertising...don't wanna get you in trouble! I cause enough of it myself...hehe.

Wendi

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on 05/08/2010 4:56pm

Hey Kirk maybe you could tell us more about the table you use. Maybe you could tell us where to buy the parts. Or is this something you sell? God knows we all need help/desperate.

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on 05/08/2010 6:07pm

I'm interested in any bed/chair that would make my life easier and more comfortable!! Don't know how u can share with us ur creation without getting you banned unless u have a email address we can contact u at to get more info!

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on 05/10/2010 7:42am

Well people, I am going to give you my email address and hopefully you will all recieve it before I am booted out or the comment is edited. If I am booted or you dont get my email, I iwsh you all the best of luck in your pain management and pray that some of you at least manage to be more comfortable in your day to day lives. As I am based in South Africa, it would not be possible for me to supply you with these beds, however maybe we can find someone in your area to assist in the manufacture for your personal use.
My email: info@farmspot.co.za

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on 05/10/2010 9:34pm

Kirk, I believe you'll be around here tomorrow. You aren't selling anything, just trying to help those of us that need the help. I see nothing wrong with that, especially because we are all just trying to help each other in here!

Wendi

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on 05/10/2010 9:47pm

"Failed Back Surgery" May be proved to be one of the many Doctors Myths. It lets them off the hook! New research shows that it has more to do with the amount of trauma to the spine during surgery, it may even be linked to failure to anaesthetize the spinal chord during surgery. Most Doctors were trained by Doctors who were trained in the olden days. Another factor is the amount of damage, scar tissue, and nerve trauma from the initial injury, especially if the surgery is postponed. Back in the 50's people with pain were considered malingerers, even though modern science points to another explanation, the old beiefs hold true for a lot of Physicians.
I have been through 2 surgeries and still have pain. I woke during one surgery, but it helped. I know if i had the surgury 4 years before when the symptoms got bad, it would have possibly allowed me to continue working and i would have less pain now, but I had one of those dinosaur Doctors that thought it was "hysterical pain" because I am female. My first surgery was done after ten years of pain, and loss of use of my right leg. Fortunately this surgeon is now pushing paper, not cutting into people. I was accused of "malingering" even though my L-5, S-1 vertebral bones were rubbing together, causing pain. At least I got the nerve function back in my leg, even with one dead nerve, which stumps my Neurologist! I appear pretty normal so they don't think I am in pain. Now my C-spine has some serious issues, after ten different opinions. Mostly negative the best advice I got was to wait for the technology to improve.
There are a lot of doctors out there who have weird opinions, the best advise I can give is to be positive and don't let them project negativity on you. There is a lot of new technology coming along, and knowledge, unfortanately most Physicians are 30 years behind. The act of surgery can cause pain, due to scarring and trauma, so the Physician blame the patients instead of analyzing it Scientificallly. Their science is 30 years old at best!

Think positive and hopefully be able to trust your Doctor if not find another one!!!!!!!

Oh I am now on disability and I would do anything to get back to work, there is little incentive to get free services. These free services are worth exactly what you pay for them.......
I was on my way to a great career... Now sitting at a computer for any length of time is painful. I have tried repeatedly with a State Voc Rehab agency to return to work. They did more harm than good. I repeatedly tried to get an ergonomic workspace before my neck surgery, but a year of 40 hrs a week at the computer while in constant pain was too much.

Good luck!!!

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on 05/10/2010 10:58pm

Kirk, I got ur email address, thank u for giving it out!! *hugs* I too have a good feeling your're still going to be here!!:)

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on 05/11/2010 1:58am

I am yoga therapist , i am treating so many patients. i always say no to spine surgery at all.we have cured patient like listhasis completly which shows before & after x rays. You want anything to know more then keep in touch.

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on 05/11/2010 8:47am

i have L5-S1 compression,a posterior bulging which narrows.severe pain in the right leg while walking.not able to walk for more than 2 minutes.not able to stand for 5 minutes. doctors advice is for surgery. can anyone advice me what should i prefer for surgery or yoga.will i recover fully.

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on 05/11/2010 9:11am

Susila, I would try everyhing first that can be tried before going the surgery route!!! Take care:)

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on 05/11/2010 12:01pm

Couchpotato,

First thing I have to say...I love your nick-name! We used to call my dad "couch potato", even bought him one!

I agree to everything you said. I soo hate it when they say we have "hysterical pain"! Is it hysterical that I drop everything? No...it's real and very frustrating. Like I said in my medicinal post, I'd love to be able to open a world wide clinic for us "hysterical" people so that we'd have a place to physically go to and get relief and understanding from those who truly care. I've grown to really care for everyone on this site, we are all in the same boat and we all understand each other, we have pretty much become a "pain in the rear family" HAHA (hope everyone got that).

My best goes out to each and everyone on this site!

Wendi

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