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Failed back surgery are the percentages right.

Started by Sam227 on 05/01/2010 8:41pm

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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There is an excellent study on this subject. It is: NIAMS-supported researchers have published results from the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT), the largest trial to date comparing surgical and non-surgical interventions for the treatment of low back and associated leg pain caused by spinal stenosis.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) Information Clearinghouse
National Institutes of Health

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Hi Wendiann, I havent forgotten you, I am just trying to make the drawing as readable as possible, should be able to send by this time tomorrow or friday, "hugs" to you and hope you coping.

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Wow, little angry inside? Not all of us with back problems want to be out of work. Please write again and let me in on the free service for life deal, missed that notice. Take the surgery. After 14 years of back pain I too had to take it,. or sit forward and walk bending over for the rest of my days. It's only been 5 weeks and I still have some back pain, but NO leg pain. Unfortunately, your back (like mine)wil forever be a sore spot. Just think of athletes,Tiger Woods last week (neck I think) will forever be a pain for him. May I suggest something?Not one person has to know this, but talk therapy, along with anti-depressants, while your waiting for your surgery. Who knows it may work. If not then you just killed time B4 surgery. I waited a very long time B4 I started talking, It helps a bit, they get paid to listen to you bitch. What could be better than that? I'm hoping that most of my pain goes away, as you do. Who knows you could be in that 33%. I had the same surgery, very painful for 2-3 days, pretty damn painful 4 weeks. That's where I'm at now.

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CandyK. Thank you for your thoughts. I'm not angry at all just looking for opinions. I haven't been able to work for about a year. I love my job. You're so funny I don't know how people could take advice from you.(Take you serious) I know in these messages people take things a different way than you mean. You don't know the different checks(free money) people get from not working. I know in different cases people do need therapists/ psychiatrists(it sounds like you did). You don't have that lady or man down the street from where you live collecting money for nothing. That doesn't have a thing wrong with them collecting free money. We have a 33% chance of getting better. I bet there is a lot more fraud out there than we know. Please explain to us more of what you meant. You sound like a great person and have a lot to give. I'm sure we are just taking your comments the wrong way. Please help us understand you better.

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Hi
I had fusion and leminectomy surgurey in April.I had 2 weeks sharp pain in my leg, I went to ER to reduce pain by medication. After MRI surg. T. Goradio in Mercy Hospital, with" team" was pushing me and scaring me that I lost all my leg and kept me in Hospital 2 days.On the end of second days under large doses drugs,I lost my fear sigh up a paper for surgery . After surgury I disable person with a lot of pain and no one doctor does not know how help me, no treatment, nerve root S1 was cut,
"Remember hummer looking for nail- surgeon surgery .."

First surgery was with complication, remember complication make more complication. Do you want to be disable? Only 33% yes...how many % can make worth your pine? get 3-5 more opinion of doctors looking for sours from internet,get medical report study your problem very carifuly,and pray, you are not in ER you have time then make decision. Good luck, and God bless you.
Sorry for my grammar mistakes. English is my 3rd language and I am not young person.

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To all of you who have mentioned that they did not have a good outcome after back surgery I thank you so much for being honest and discussing your situation. I had a anterior/posterior lumbar fusion L5 S1 ( isthmic spondylolisthesis) in 2004 and felt relief not pain free for close to 3 years until all the pain and then some started. After speaking to my surgeon he advised me that there was NOTHING wrong with my fusion that I may have agitated my back and that I should have a nerve block to help with the pain. The nerve block was administrated the next day and it was the worst pain I have every felt from a block & was told that he got me where I needed it and that I would feel better within days. Well after going through extreme pain for 10 days I was admitted into the hospital for a week because they could not find the cause of the pain, they just kept me comfortable with pain medicines. I was referred to see a neurologist who diagnosed me within the first 10 mins with Peripheral Neuropathy (nerve damage) from scar tissue that formed on/around the screws/plates that basically are on the nerves, the treatment for this is a fusion IVIG treatment administered every 10 day for about 4 hours. This treatment helps somewhat but I am still about a 6-7 scale in pain. Back pain is the worst pain someone can go through and I am confident that the percentage of failed surgery are higher then 33% and those people who have unfortunately had to resort to SSI is not because they do not want to go back to work (there may be a 1 - 3% that are able to work). I went back to work 12 weeks after surgery and unfortunately was in and out of work for over 5 years until February of this year. This has had to be the hardest discussion I have had to make and accept @ the age of 35 right now I am unable to work.
Let's hope that there will be something soon for all of us to take away this terrible pain.

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I would not consider back surgery before getting two opinions--one from a neurosurgeon and one from an orthopedic surgeon. The neurosurgeon said, "I can fix that and you'll walk out of the hospital pain free!" He then went on to describe the fusion he wanted to perform on my lower back. His confidence and promise scared me. It seemed to perfect a promise. Then I saw the orthopedic surgeon. He is sending me to have a nerve conduction study as there are several nerves being pinched within the spinal stenosis. I'm more comfortable with the second doc because he hasn't made any promises he very likely cannot keep, plus he wanted more tests to get more details about my problem. So--the moral is--get at least TWO opinions!

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What level(s)? If only one level, then your pain management doctor is an idiot or only deals with crappy surgeons. I had one level and laminectomy and was much better after 6 weeks or so and I have other serious health concerns. My neurosurgeon has performed thousands and has an almost 100% success rate.

Good luck with the surgery and let us know how it turns out.

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Carrie What`s the name of your surgeon? I would really like to talk to him! I'm sure everyone else would to.

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Dr. Patrick Rhoten in Beverly HIlls. I had my surgery at Cedars Sinai but I imagine he also is affiliated with other hospitals like St Johns. Another excellent surgeon who will be practing again with Rhoten shortly is Dr. Todd Lanman He is with St Johns and I believe Cedars.. He's developed some of the latest tech to minimize down time. He had a very active 46 yr old male patient back to his para-sailing in 4 weeks.
The doctors actually look like twins! They both use a team of doctors when they do the surgery. Mine was anterior and postiror with no cutting of muscles and no grafts from hip. They use a FDA approved protein compound that works better and the patient is in less pain and moving faster b/c no grafts.

I can tell you Rhoten looks as surgery as LAST option unlike the 4 other neuros I interviewed which is why I choose him. I needed the fusion because I had disc slippage. I initially had by Rhoten a decompression and was pain free when I woke up from surgery. I left the next day and way totally fine. He has am excellent bedside manners but he needs to work on returning calls!

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I'm an RN and had spinal fusion 46 days ago for severe sciatic pain due to spondolythesis and spinal stenosis. What's your original diagnosis? How long ago since you had the failed surgery?Are you using the same guy again for the upcoming surgery? What does your surgeon say he's planning to do that's different and will succeed in the upcoming surgery? Did he do bone grafting from your hip in the failed surgery? Does he plan on doing bone grafting from your bones in your upcoming surgery? Have you had a 2nd or 3rd opinion from spinal surgeons at major medical centers? Are you a smoker and drinker? If so, give them up or you're wasting your time with more surgery. Smoking especially prevents the fusion from taking place.
If I were you, I'd seek the expert advise of well known spinal surgeons. They're generally not found in local community hospitals but in large teaching medical centers.
For me, it's so far so good.I'm pain free and walking 3/4 of a mile a day and will begin out patient PT next week. I'm driving again but don't take trips over an hour from home yet.. My surgeon said that it takes close to a year to fully recouperate from this type of surgery. Good luck!!

Your "pain management" person sounds like a jerk. Ask him or her where they got that statistic from.
Have you shared that statistic with the surgeon who's about to operate on you again? I would and
let's see what they say!! Get a new pain management person if you can.

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I don't think your doctor's percentage of success rate is based upon what post-op patients tell the doctor. So, if I understand your question, the percentages of success have more to do with your precise condition, your overall health, and your age. The success rate can be higher for you than it might be for me. As far as malingering, and using that to convince the surgeon it is due to a lack of post-operative success, it would be a slim possibility. Getting SSI has as much to do with your attorney's effort to get you the SSI as it does with any physical reality. In other words, a person in relatively good physical shape can get SSI if he has a good enough attorney.

I would ask my surgeon to be more specific in relation to the percentage number he gave you, and I would definitely get a second opinion without informing either doc you are doing so.

If I have misunderstood your question, please forgive.

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Why don't you just tell us what research it is your alluding to, then maybe we could help ourselves. Or, you could tell us the name of this therapy and tell us why it makes sense. If you want to help others, a little more relevant info would be appreciated.

Are you selling this "cure?"

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WOW- guess I didn't read closely enough. I couldn't imagine someone going thru back surgery just to get SSI or to stay on it.

For those contemplating, I would suggest you interview as many neurosrugeons as possible depending on your condition. I would try to stay away from ones who rely on hip gratfs b/c there is more down time and pain with that and it is no longer necessary.

And Sam find a new pain management doctor. Yours doesn't seem to want you to be pain free. His agenda is not yours.

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While I think there is a possibility SOME people may not be truthful about their condition in order to get benefits dishonestly, I think the percentages you have been given for your chances of a successful surgery are probably pretty close to reality. I have 2 brothers who received spinal fusion surgery done by extremely reputable surgeons and one brother says he is better off than before but still suffers with a lot of pain. The other brother is worse off. They had 2 different reasons for surgery but the point is, spinal surgery is a tricky thing with no guarantees EVER. I just found out I have spinal stenosis caused by a nerve disorder and because of this nerve disorder surgery is probably not an option for me. I am lucky to have a pain management doctor that understands and HEARS me when I talk about my pain. He works with me and I still have some, not many, but some options left for pain relief. Unfortubately I also have to work on pain relief for my nerve disorder so it is a tricky situation. I had pain maagement doctors before this that were not a good fit. If you are not getting good results with you pain doc, find another one. Don't stay with a doc you feel is not listening to you or you feel thinks your pain is all in your head. I would do anything to get off the dole. I was the one who did the helping, who everyone called for help. I do not like to be the one who needs help. I can no longer drive. I usually spend my days alone now, because I don't like to ask for people to drivce around. My husband is working part-time after retiring because our budget is tight with the extra expenses of my illness. Worker's Comp covers the medical but not all the extras like the help (only ever other week) I need to get the house clean, the things I need because I can't do somethings for myself, just a lot of extra stuff that cost money. We are not spendthrifts. I still grow a veggie garden to save money only I do it in pots on the deck because I can't handle the regular kind. You get my point. I lost my job 7 years ago. I will get retirement pay from it when I turn 65 but it will be about 25 percent of what it would have been if I hadn't got hurt at work falling down the stairs when my right knee ligament popped. Surgery was successsful but a nerve disorder developed related to it and here I sit feeling 25 years older then I am.

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I can't say if the percentages are right. My husband had double fusion in 2006. Which we consider a failed surgery. His pain and discomfort really never went away or even dulled. He just had surgery a few weeks ago to remove the titanium screws (4) that were used as 1 of them broke and was pushing on a nerve causing him major constant pain. I do know people who have had double fusion and it has been successful.

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Hi Sam227, I've read several replys to your original questions. Would that many of their comments were that simple, especially since you didn't state what caused you to have the original surgery. Was it pain due to trauma? a fall? An accident?Was it a disc problem?a fracture?How old are you?
How long in months or years did you have pain symptoms before having the surgery? Have you gone through physical therapy to stabilize the spine by developing the core muscles? Are you overweight? Do you smoke?
All of these questions are relevent to your individual case.Please supply a little more information. Just a point of information: pain management MDs don't think much of surgeons and viceversa. They have their own hidden agendas and many see their patients as ongoing repeat customers and a source of a continuous stream of dependable income If they could have been surgeons they would have!! Good luck and Godspeed

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Hello, just curious what has happened to your back? did they say is wrong, herniation? stenosis- slippage? Have you had any prior surgery? What sort of test have you had?

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I don't believe I ever hurt myself in any way that I can remember. In the job I did I usually wake up with a sore body. It took me a while to even go to the doctors for my back. My diagnosis is a lateral bulging disc at L3-4. They also said I have severe spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease. My surgery date is July 22 as in my other posts I am extremely nervous. I have no choice other than surgery at this point. I've gone through all physical therapy, nerve blocks. I also did chiropractic care. Massive pain pills really don't help me anymore. That's why it's time for surgery for me. In my original post are the percentages right. The way understand they are. I just hope I'm not one of the 33 percent that gets worse after surgery. That means I have a 66% chance of staying the same or getting better. Thank you all for all your comments and thoughts.
Sam

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Sam, one thing that I see left out of all these replies, or the vast majority, is the patient being an active and responsible participant in their own treatment and recovery. This is just personal opinion and observation ... many people look at spine surgery as a magic pill. They figure that the surgeon will go in and fix the problem and they will be back to their lives in no time. So when it comes to preparation, rehabilitation and overall attitude, many people drop the ball. The surgeon is only one part of the equation. We have to take personal responsibility to hold up our end of the bargain. Diet, exercise, smoking, daily routines, all play into what is deemed a successful surgical outcome or a failure. So with your upcoming surgery, please don't take a back seat in the theater and hope to enjoy the movie. Prepare yourself, prepare your home and then be an active participant in your rehabilitation and recovery. Attitude goes a long way towards helping the physician in healing the body.

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Hello sam i myself have had 2 herniated discs for 14 years unfortunately i kept working year after year the pain would put me down for a week or two at a time, but i couldn,t just sit down and give up, i had two children to raise and keep ma ma, happy too. Anyway years later without medication at all (nothing) !! i started to lock up and couldn,t move at all and the couch periods got longer and longer , and the pain got sooo bad i had to suck it up and swallow my pride and go see the doctor, well he put me on ice , heat, biofreeze, off and on and move around as much as i could . Well a while after that i had a bad auto accident and got hurt real bad !! and realized i needed professional help and i better get it fast , well the driver had no insurance etc, i had to sue my own insurance to get checked out by the doc, x rays therapy, and i had no choice but to take medicine to cut the pain or id die! long story short , i found out from mri,s had more severe injuries than i thought. i could go on and on but just yesterday went to see surgeon and he told me 50/50 on surgery but he wont do that to his enemy!

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I went to two different surgeons to get two different answers. One says surgery the other one said no surgery. I have an appointment with a another surgeon I'm very curious what he's going to say. The surgeon that said no surgery was actually a doctor's assistant he used to be a neurosurgeon. He didn't ask me a lot of questions hedid a physical exam on me. He did not ask me how long I had back problems. Between the two definitely the younger doctor is a lot more qualified surgeon. He asked all the questions. And in the end he said I think I can help you with surgery. He really didn't promise me anything. I haven't worked in approximately 1 year. I will lose my business and everything else I've worked for my entire life. If the surgery fails at least I tried to get my life back. I'm on quite a lot of narcotic pain pills that don't work that well anymore. So I feel I don't have a choice I have two young children to care for and wife. I have not looked for any disability or anything else at this point. To the best of my knowledge I opted out of all the disability benefits I could've ever received. Other than social security disability. I wish I could talk to all of you face-to-face and go over our lives. Would be nice to see someone that actually had failed back surgery. Which I guess I have met some people but they've gone in for the second and third surgeries. If I'm not part of the 33% that gets fixed I will have to deal with all the consequences. The least I can say I really tried to get better. I would hate to lose my business and everything else at work for all my life. I will keep you all informed. Thank`s for everything Guys Sam

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Hi Sam,
Where do you live? I know of some excellent neurosurgeons besides wherre I live that might be able to help you. If it had been me, I would have left when tphysicain asst came in to talk to you.
You wre not there for an asst's opinion, rather for the doctor. If that is the way this doctor runs his practice, run don;t walk to a new doctor.

I'm sorry you are having so much trouble and pain. But even if you have the surgery, you're going to be down for a while. It would be a good idea to apply for SSDI now as it will take a while to receive anyway. Just a suggestion to take some of the pressure off you.

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Lots of replies to this discussion.
Pain free!! What a relief that would be. My back issue's started in 1990. Compressed L-3 fracture from car accident. Recovered after intense physical therapy and rest. Returned to my normal work (construction) without my doctor's wishes. But I needed to make a living, and I was feeling great. Started going back to the gym and religiously going 4 times a week. Got into the greatest shape that I've been in in years. About the year 2000, I started experiencing some back pain. Draging my foot when I walked. After several people witnessed me draggin my foot, they expressed concerns, so I went to the doctor. I went the next 2 years taking med's and gong to physical thereapy. Injections etc etc. Doctors would tell me that there was nothing that they could see on the exrays to see any problems. ONe day I saw this pain doctor and he ordered a MRI (whick was more than anyone had done) He explained that I showed signs of a bulging disk at the L-3 level, and order a Kyroplasty. Said that this proceedure would stableize my LUmbar area. About 6 months later, they did another MRI and saw signs of disk problems in the L2 L3 L4 and L5 areas. and referred me to a neuro surgeon. I was excited to finally be able to see someone that could possibly help me. The ND told me that I needed to have a spinal fusion L2-L5 and maybe have 3 disk replaced, but wanted to wait to get the results of the disk agram. The test came back and was possitive to have them removed. The doctor sat me down and explained everything and promised to help me, but with no promises to relief all the pain. But could promise that my back would be more stable. So after researcing, I went for the surgery. 9 Hours on the table with complication. Blood clot in my lung. Had to go into emergency surgery to stop the clot. Anyway, Went home after 9 days in the hospital. Was walking 1/2 mile in less than 6 weeks. Felt great. doc told me that I was showing signs of some fusions. In aug (4 months after surgery) I had a ct and all of a sudden the fusion was gone. Just dissaoppeared. No answers on why except tht my body rejected it. I had moved to another state by this time and no one(I meam no ine would see me.) Larage city with about 6 neuro here. They didn't want the libility. So I was sent elsewhere 500 miles away. He was a well known surgeon. He told me that I needed a redue but couldn't guarntee relief. So I decided not to go with him. I was disappointed. 4 years later I'm in terrible pain. 24 hours a day. I do have a spinal stimualtor implant that doesn take about 20% relief. Taking several med. Finally someone was willing to see me because my leg pain is so bad that I want to just shoot myselff. Waitiing to have Ct nerve test and mylogram in about 2 weeks. Doc says that because of my levels of pain, that I have problems in the L5 S1 Area. And it would need a surgery, but couldn't promise 100 relief. I have a different additude now. If I get 5 or even 10% relief I'll be happy. The scary part is that If I get wrorse. But I don't know what could be worse than I'm in now. The pain that I'm experience now, Med do not help.
Does anyone have any answers for me when it comes to leg pain. My right leg in so bad when I drive, that it makes me want to cry. How can I drive with less pain. A pillow or even hook up my tense unit. I really need some answers. Ane when you get the feet pain. I swear, there is nothing that takes that away. YOu just have to wait and til it passes.

% after surgery.I think that It's like pulling your name out of a hat and see what you draw. No one really know's.

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thanks wigout111
it's 6:30 a.m. right now. I'm debating what to do. Should I go back to bed or should I go and get breakfast at a little restaurant 2 miles down the road. Cause I know I will be in bed all afternoon I will make the challenge to go to breakfast. I am in 10 plus pain right now. I'm truly dreading getting in my car. I started this post may 1. My surgery date is July 22. I have another surgeon's opinion to get before go through with the surgery. I think there is no choice at this point anyway's. I'm just hoping today my pain pills will kick in at some point. Yesterday they did not I was in pain all day 10 plus. I feel so I must've done something to rehurt myself recently. For three days now the pain has been real bad. I'm thinking maybe the last nerve block I had totally has wore off now. I didn't think the nerve blocks of help. I do feel worse when they totally aware off though. I am 48 years old I will keep you all informed how much pain I'm in with the fusion surgery. Thank you all for your opinions and thoughts. Sam

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Mrs Joshi - what's your contact info please?

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my neurosurgeon says for the neck adcf theirs a 91-99%. i imagin its the same for lumbar.

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Hi, all;

I saw the second ortho-doctor-dude yesterday, and according to his determination choosing the meds I used to control the pain, AND putting wheels on my ass were both the right things to do. The first ortho-dude wanted me to walk a min. of 5 minutes each hour, which was aggravating my DDD. Besides, I couldn't walk more than 2 minutes without almost collapsing anyway. Legs just won't work right.

Because I'm stable and reasonably comfortable in a wheelchair, that's my opting now. Should that become impossible down the road, naturally I'll have to re-think surgery. For now I know what I have, know how to manage the pain, and am determined to enjoy the freedom the wheelchair has provided. For over 13 years I was degrading my back, and though it was "looked at" by various doctors, the back pain was pretty much "blown off." No one would authorize an MRI, much less more than one set of x-rays, which showed nothing at the time.

So, 'here I are' learning how to navigate and get from point A to point B without so much as a thought about 'I wonder if I can make it before my legs give out...' Thus far, my employer has been helpful, and I'm being assigned a different office - downstairs - instead of being sent back up a set of stairs that, no doubt, didn't help the overall situation.

Dobermom

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Dobermom:

Though I have a totally different problem than you i have been following your posts. I'm glad you have found some mobility and respite from pain in the wheechair. It sounds like you're on the right track. Hope you have a good weekend.

Pam

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I agree with Baucomi 's comments. A path that has the possibility of relief and recovery is to take control of your own care. Going from doctor to doctor doesn't work because they have just a little more knowledge than you. Surgeons have only one solution and that's to operate. Radically changing the way you look at your physical symptoms like pain, weakness etc is a start. You have to become a warrior, get control of yourself, lose weigh, stop eating junk food, put down the booze and cigarettes, the pot and most importantly, get off the couch and exercise. Even if you're in a wheelchair, exercise what you can move. There will be pain so, before starting, take your pain pills, get into a very hot shower to relax the back and then exercise your abs, do the core exercises you learned in physical therapy or look it up on line. Developing the abs takes the pressure and pain off the back. Work your quads and hamstrings, then do the biceps, triceps and shoulders. If you're not paralyzed, start walking every day, increasing the time in 10 minute increments. Then when you finish, ice your back for 20minutes. Getting blood circulating is key to relief. When we're in pain we want to baby ourselves by becoming inactive, sitting on the internet all day. It gets you no where. Popping pain pill doesn't work. Just use them in conjunction with doing exercise. If you're not exercising, don't take the pain pill. Is this easy? Hell no but just vegetating on pain pills is debilitating and makes you're world very small to nonexistent. Get moving!!

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