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Spinal fusion

Started by stellabella on 07/23/2010 6:34am

Good morning, I am new here and faced with a super big decision and need your help! I am 40 years old, mother of 3, 21,17 & 5. 3 years ago I was lift my son and felt a pain in my back. Nothing major just a feeling of I'm going to be sore tom. and I was. It continued to hurt and I just took advil thinking it would go away. It didn't and I had no real idea what was going on. I never go to the doctor unless I really need to. It got pretty bad but I kept pushing till I woke up in the middle of the night and could not move. My husband carried me to the ER and that's where my nightmare began. I had herniated my L5 S1. After the usual MRI and injections I ended up having a disectomy 10 days before my wedding. It worked so I thought. I went back to work at about 7 or 8 weeks and that lasted for a few weeks. I had sat in a 2 day long meeting and I was really antsy. I thought it was because I am used to being on my feet and zooming around instead of being stuck in a chair for 2 solid days. (I am a retail manager) A day or 2 went by and my pan had increased. This time I knew what was happening. The pain was at least 10 times worse than the first time. (I didn't think that was even possible) Thank god I had a good neurosurgeon. Another MRI showed another herniation at L5 S1. This one was larger than the first. I couldn't do anything but lay there and cry. There is no medication that can take that pain away. (I hate taking pills, I'm afraid of them. I take them but it gives me anxiety) So I had another disectomy and this time they said they wrapped it with something? After each surgery I did do PT to help strengthen my core, however I do not believe that PT can do anything when something like this happens. Basically I had to come to grips with the fact that my back was always going to hurt. About a year ago I had a similar pain in the left side (the good side) and I panicked, everyone had always asked why I waited so long the first time so I decided to get it checked out. Another MRI and off to a pain management doctor. He said I had ddd and piriformis syndrome. Off to PT which helped a bit and then it came right back. I had some more injections in my back and in my piriformis. It worked! For about 2 1/2 months before it started to creep back. I didn't immediately go back since this pain was not the same as a herniation. I just kept taking my advil and doing some of the stretches. In Feb. it had suddenly switched sides over night, now I'm really confused. Is that even possible? I was cautious, I thought unless I have that pain going down my leg I am fine. Well it only took a few weeks before yes it was going down my leg all the way to the bottom of my foot but only when I have been standing for more than an hour. Back to the pain management doc. on my 40th birthday of course. He ordered an MRI and when I went to schedule I was told my insurance was canceled. What?! I was sure there had to be a mistake but as I found out my husbands insurance had switched and I no longer could see ANY of my doctors! Happy birthday to me. I have finally found some new doctors after a long battle. I do not have a primary care only a neurologist, pain management and neurosurgeon.
My neurologist says that I will never work again. I have been super confused by that. My pain management Dr. kinda freaked me out too. He wouldn't say what kind of surgery exactly but said I needed to choose which one. He said I have a few things going on. I have DDD, degenerative joint changes, arthritis and my sciatic nerve is entrapped with scar tissue. I had a discogram 2 days ago and received the results. I need an L5 S1 fusion for sure. My L4 disc is black and has a tear which is leaking, this is not causing my pain right now. He said I need to decide if I do one level or two. He said there is no way to tell if I do one how long it will last before L4 needs it too. I have no idea what to do! I feel like I am signing up for a life of surgeries! It has been such a battle this time to even get to someone who would help me. All I ever heard was your too young. I'm so confused! I'm too young to feel like this! Why do they say that to me? How am I going to decide what to do? I have to go back on Aug 10th and bring a family member with me to make a decision. Please help! My family doesn't understand my situation like all of you. Unless you have been through it you have no idea. Please help.

Bella

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Hi Bella:
I understand you. I have been with a strong pain goin down my leg, behind the thig and behind theknee. I could not wal or stand for more than 5 minutes. This has been happenning to me since June 14. In April and May it happened but I could survive taking some, well, not some, many overthecounter pills. The first diagnostic was periformis syndrome. I went on a pills treatment and a quiropractor. it did not work. I had 3 acupuntura and did not work. A week later I went to my PCP, gave me two pills prescription... they did not work. He sent me to the ortho... A week later I could see the ortho and sent me to have an MRI which I had a week later. I cried a lot because I had to wait for another week for the MRI and then another week to know the results and pain was killing me. Th4 showed bones spurs and stenosis. ALso the vertebraes hare pressing my nerves. He said After i waited for so long that I would have epidural injections or surgery. I told him I would go for the injections. BUT I went to a neurisurgeon who is an angel...he pout me on some pills treatment before the injections and they are working. Pain has gone 95 %! I had to pay for the appointment because my PCP did not want togive a referal for the neurosurgeon. I crried a lot because you feel nobody cares, especially doctors who sen you home with the pain. The ortho gave an appointment for the injections for August ten and the I have to wait for more the a week for the injections. That is why I had to pay myself for the neurosurgeon, not the insurance. It made me sad that I have been like a pin pon ball crying because of the pain everyday single day. I told to myself that I was nto going to wait sitting, looking at the sky and crying because I could not walk, not even go to the supermarket. I said they are not controlling my helth, so I have to do it by myself, jumping insurances or doctors... and I am happy i did.... Look for more opinions, that is what I can telll you so far...
I am also happy I found this site... it has helped me to see how nice paople are with each other and how supportive... I have learned a lot and at least you can be prepared for what to expect when you go to the doctor snd not get surprises or ask questions you did not realized before. Good luck, but get other opinions although you think you doctor is good.
m

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The only advice I can offer is my own experience. Everyone I met said "don't have surgery it will ruin your back!" They said it for 4 years so for 4 years I lived in constant pain and tried all the epidural injections, acupuncture, PT, pain pills, etc. Finally a neurosurgeon took a look at my MRI and said from the looks off it, I had a piece of disc that was pinching my sciatic nerve and causing the pain. He said there was a good chance that if we took out that stray piece some of my pain could be relieved. There was also a chance it wouldn't affect the pain. Also, my discs looked much older than my 28 years. I trusted him and was in so much pain that I went ahead and had the surgery. I will not have a fusion because I work in a PT clinic and I never see good things come from them. I had a microdiscectomy/laminectomy (they only removed a small sliver of the lamina of L5). I can tell you today that I am absolutely, in no uncertain terms, 100% PAIN FREE!!!! You have to have a surgeon you trust who is willing to be conservative. I'm not sure of your particular MRI results or physical manifestations (reflexes, muscle weakness, etc), but I wouldn't shy away from a conservative surgery. It worked perfectly for me. And remember if you do, that you HAVE to take recovery extremely slowly, maintain a healthy weight, stretch, exercise, etc. Good luck and feel free to contact me if you have any questions about my situation!

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Happy Back - where are you located? Am I able to contact you privately to find out who your Surgeon was? I am so glad that surgery was a success for you!

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Good morning,
Thank you so much for sharing with me your experiences. I live in Oshkosh WI. and my email is stellabella831@gmail.com if you would like to contact me:)

Bella

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