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Spinal Stenosis (Sciatica)

Started by browniiz on 05/08/2010 11:42am

I have a really bad problem going on with two major nerves being pinched. It is so bad that I have not been able to shop in over two months, I can't even walk to the mailbox. It ruins my sleep , my housework doesn't even get done and I am miserable. I haven't been able to get up the nerve to drive one of those wheelchairs that Walmart provides. I picture myself taking out an entire family or a display at the least. I am going to a spine specialist and after one injection I got worse in a few days he is going to schedule me for surgery. I have no idea what type of surgery he is planning on doing yet. I have heard plenty of horror stories about back surgery but would like to hear something positive from someone who knows what I am going through now and has had good results from surgery. Anyone out there??

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I assume you had an epidural spinal injection, and if so, it often takes up to three weeks to get the full benefit. Typically, one gets the injections in sets of three, six months apart. It is not uncommon for the pain to increase after an injection because the medicine is initially irritating the nerves. I, too, must have surgery, but I would never consider that option after only one injection. You don't say you are on pain medication. Morphine Sulfate is the only pain medication that has helped me up to this point. In my opinion, any physician who would suggest surgery after only one injection is one I could not trust. You may need to see a different doctor or a different pain management doctor. When the time comes for surgery, see at least two surgeons for opinions before you let anyone talk you into a surgery that could change your life. Good Luck

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I agree with the first person who replied that before any surgery you need to see at least two different doctors.

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Browniiz,

Get up the nerve and get that wheelchair at Walmart. Think of the displays as points...take them out!!! LOL. But seriously, spinal stenosis is no fun and does take more than just a few epidurals for the docs to find the sweet spot and get you relief. It has taken me years of epidurals and I did have one doctor find that sweet spot and the pain was gone for three months. But just because the pain was gone, doesn't mean dive back into your old routines...I learned the hard way on that one. I'm still waiting on pain management to actually tell me what the MRI tells them. I know what my MRI says, but they can't get the nerve up to actually say..."gee, your facet joints are gone at this level and that's why you have the pain". I get a "you have ddd and this and that", but never a full up in your face answer from the docs at pain mgmt. My primary care physician actually seems to understand me more than the so called experts, even the surgeons refered to me by pain mgmt say "we can't do anything for you". You really really need to have more than one doctor's opinion and not just an ortho, but neurology too. Someone wrote in the discussion boards the smartest thing I have heard in a while. "Hammer always looking for nail, surgeons surgery." Surgeons like to cut and they always will.

Please don't jump because of the pain, Stenosis at the l5-s1 level hurts like hell and can take many years to get on the right regimine for pain. Pain meds alone don't work, you need to have something to take care of the nerves too. Alot of people are on at least three types of meds for pain and the combination does help for the most part and can buy you time to be able to clear your head through the pain and investigate what is out there for help, surgery, clinical trials, etc. I'm personally on Morphine sulf ER tabs 30 mg 2xday, Lyrica 50 mg 2xday with 100mg at night, and celebrex for the swelling. The celebrex is a 100 days on, 100 days off because of the long term side effects it can cause. I do have other scripts but these are the most common I've heard of dealing with stenosis and in my case, they do help. I just have a problems with all the meds entirely I'm on because if I can't sleep at night....I'm wide awake, and during other times I crash in front of this thing or even more embarrassing during special family get togethers..."ut, there goes Wendi again...get her head off the plate please".

Ask your spine specialist about meds because epidurals aren't gonna do it on their own and they do take a while to start working.

Take care and keep us informed please!

Wendi

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At this moment in time, I am at home recovering from surgery on my L4/L5. I've read with interest all the posts on this site re my condition and have to say that quality of life, in many of them, seems to have been overlooked. From lumbar epidural shots to quite nasty medications, and on an ongoing basis and for long periods of time with still no significant relief in sight. I've been there, done that. I decided on surgery and haven't looked back (excuse the pun!). 10 hours after surgery I was up walking and pain free! Prior to the surgery my poor wife used to suffer just watching me trying to cope on a daily basis. Now, she is so happy - as I am - and we both have so much to thank my specialist/surgeon for. I'm the biggest coward when it comes to surgery however, as I said previously, quality of life is just so important to me. I had little but now, pain and medication free, I can look forward to the future with such a positive attitude. I hope this helps.

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Hi browniiz. I would recommend you get a second opinion. Your doctor who gave you the epidural may have pierced something. It happened to me on my third epidural. I, like you, knew the 3rd epidural didn't work right away because I had no relief at all. I found a neurosurgeon who looks at surgery as last resort. I had two problems however, disc slippage and needed a decompression. I did the latter first and when surgeon went in he found a huge cyst that hemmorhaged and was almost necrotic. He removed and did a bilateral decompression. I was ready to leave the hospital the same day but he mademe stay overnight. The terrible nerve pain that went down my leg was now gone. The back pain continued and ultimately I decided to have the fusion now which was approximately 6 months later.
But I strongly urge you to get a second opinion as your current surgeon sounds a little knife happy. After an epidural they will usually tell you to give it time to work. I, like you, knew it wasn't working but I am at a loss to understand your doctor's response. If the epidural didn;t work at all, I think you have no choice but to get the decompression. I can assure you it will make your life wonderful again. Like I said, I was ready to leave the same day and only needed vicodin for day of surgery. You will get instant relief from the nerve pain. I know how awful it can be, since there is no position that is even halfway comfortable or tolerable. Good luck on this journey and come back and tell us what you decided and how it went. Blessings. Carrie

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Steve
I'm happy to hear you are doing so well. I would like to ask a question or two, if that's OK. Did you have a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon? What king of surgery did you have? I found this morning that my trouble is at L4-L5, like you. I've had two opinions--one from a neurosurgeon and the second from an orthopedic surgeon. I'm wondering if it makes a difference. The first surgeon said I needed a fusion. On Monday I will find out what the second one says.
Thanks, Nic

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Hi Browniiz, I am not Steve nor did you ask me, but I hope you don't mind my answering. While an orthopod is typically qualified and often assists I would urge you to have your primary surgeon be the neurosurgeon since your problem involves nerve compression. I, like Steve, for my first surgery had the decompression at L4-L5 and was painfree like Steve. You get a little ~one inch scar in your back and any pain you feel is merely incisional which goes away in a day or two. You will feel 100% better once you wake up from surgery. If I knew your area I could give you referrals to several top notch surgeons who even have excellent bedside manners which is a little unusual with neuros.

Whatever you decide, I wish you well and hope you post back with your results.

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Steve,

I'm glad you are getting better as the days go on and that you are getting your quality of life back. I wish that was the case for the rest of us med heads. I'm waiting on a consult from a Neuro that I do trust. He isn't a surgeon, just a neurologist, but he should be able to refer me to someone he trusts. Unfortunately, I may not be a candidate for surgery because they are finding more and more wrong with me after my bout with pnemonia a couple weeks ago. I now find myself taking 4 more medications...oh joy...now I really do sit around and pop pills all day! My arms have no strength anymore and it hurts every nerve to pick something up. I do find that getting out of the house with a friend sure helps and it keeps my mind off of smoking which I just recently went from 2 packs a day to none. I want to pick up a crochet hook and start crocheting again, but don't see that happening with my current nerve pain in my arms. Sure would like a smoke.....ARG! I'm coping.

I hope all of us can find the quality of life that we used to have or at least close to it. Thanks for sharing Steve!

Wendi

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I have spinal stenosis and nerve compression at L4--L5. I have had two previous surgeries for bulging disc. The neurosurgeon told me I needed a spinal fusion. I know that's very drastic and so I went to see an orthopedic surgeon. He told me that a fusion may not be necessary and he has put me though several test to find out the degree of stenosis and which nerves are comnpressed. The first surgeon did nothing but to look at my MRI and then ordered a CT scan, for which he has not called with the results. It's been three weeks or more.

From your own experience, did you have spinal stenosis as well as nerve compression?

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Hi Browniiz, I have had surgery (laminectomy) 7 years ago and may need it again. I was not sorry for one minute. When I awoke in hospital I was so relieved that I only had pain fron surgery and not the debilitating pain of before, I didn't need much pain medication. This pain was a piece of cake. I never regretted it and will do it again, but I am looking for the No. 1 hospitals and surgeons where the decisions are group decisions, not just a decision by one neurosurgeon. Yes, you need a neurosurgeon, not an orthopaedist. Let no one stop you, no one, from getting into that Walmart chair. It is your health and your life. so do what is best for you. I had one doctor dismiss me and said I only had arthritis, after his reading of MRI report. Told me to "live with it." Take no such behavior. I'm in your corner...

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Ok, here goes with answers to some questions some of you have asked me. I had a laminectomy and spinal rhizolysis on the left L4/L5. I was suffering from a spinal stenosis and severely pinched nerves. I had 2 opinions, one from a neurosurgeon and one from an orthopaedic surgeon. I posed the question to the ortho re who I should use - him or a neurosurgeon. Let me tell you exactly what he said: "The question here really should be are you a spinal specialist. There are many neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons who do not specialise in spines. This is your spine we are concerned with and not your brain. I am a spinal specialist (he is the Director of the Spinal Unit in many of the top hospitals here in Sydney, he specialises in spinal trauma, and is the leading specialist here for treating Scholiosis)". His reputation also prededed him - and his 'bedside' manner was excellent, coupled with a rare and witty personality! I chose him and have not regretted it in the least. He did mention spinal fusion but this was only prompted by my question re the longer term prognosis. He did say that he would not consider a fusion as he strongly believed that this was a final option, and as I am 53 years of age, and my current health is 'reasonable', what he was proposing to do - and has since done - would be successful. And it has been, although it may be a few more weeks before I can get back to doing the samba!! At the end of the day the choice of who you use is down to you. All I can tell you is I used an ortho and I am over the moon with the result. I do hope that this is of some help to some of you. I don't normally 'buy into' these types of emotive discussions but have done on this ocassion simply because I know what you're all going through. I've been there. Good luck everyone.

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I work at walmart use the chair thats what its for

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I WOULDN'T DO THE SURGERY!!! The Dr told me I had spinal stenosis and he put 3 titatiums screws in my back then when I went back to my room I was in so much pain I was screaming all day and the dr took me back into surgery and done a fusion I was hoarse for over a month from screaming my back is worse now than it ever was before!!!

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