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Would surgery be a good option in this case.

Started by cld1974 on 07/16/2011 8:16pm

I am a 37 year old female who had 2 herniated discs 7 years ago that were free from pain after steroid epidural shots. Now,I have bilateral rear leg pain that can be in either leg at any given time along with lower back pain all the time. Some spasming. I would consider my pain at a level 5/6 mostly. I have been going to pain management and taking hydrocodone and flexeril for the pain/spasms. I got an epidural nerve root block done in June and ended up with a spinal headache for 11 days before they performed a blood patch. My report shows that I have diffuse disc bulging from L2 - L5, L4/L5 has posterior annular fissure, L5/S1 has bulging and bilateral facet arthropathy. Also has posterior central disc extrusion with minimal inferior migration. There is impingement of the descending left S1 nerve roots. There is no central canal stenosis or foraminal narrowing for any of the discs. If anyone has any ideas as to what they have been told for this in a similar situation please feel free to let me know as I am really wondering after reading so much on these boards. Thank you for all being so open in your posts. It really helps us out here just wondering.

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My situation was similiar; however,the spinal issues where not entirely the same. I had my L4, L5-S1 fused with instrumentation due to stenosis, facet joint syndrome, and spondylthesis. I am not as inclined with all the technical terminology as you are, and I apologize for this, since I placed my entire trust in a "world class" spine doc in my region. Essentialy, I "blew out" my lower back from heavy lifting and mechanical work (Former HVAC/R tech). Till the fusion took place, I had limited feeling in both legs, essentially I was paralyzed. My cervical region C4-C7 was in a similiar position, the discs (all of them) where fully compressed, and my spinal cord was more like an "S" in that region. As you can imagine, I also lacked mobility and feeling in both arms. Joking aside I gave the neurologist a run for his money with the EMG tests, etc. Before having both those areas fused I had several less evasive procedures done. They included facet joint treatments, epidural injections, and radiofrequency treatments. All of those procedures helped in conjuction with pain medicine, but they are not a fix. In my situation the pain was intense before the "blow outs" since the nerves were inflamed and severely impinged. A bulging disc, to my knowledge, does not cause the pain, it is if the disc irriates or impinges the nerve. Fusion was my only option being that I also suffer from degenerative disc disease in my entire spine. Currently, I am postponing two more fusions, and at 28 as explained to me I will be lucky to make it to 40 without my entire spine being fused. Fusion is the last resort, once fusions begin it places more pressure on the other discs causing even more operations. In my case the remaining discs are all begining to compress, and are "dryed out" (thus DDD). Some discs as mentioned, are herniated, fully compressed, and impinging on nerves. Also, fusions can have inadvertent side affects, I now have intractable migraines (chronic daily migraines) since the neck fusion. In fairness, the cervical fusion mitigated the migraines enough to where high dosages of Topamax, Gabapentin, and Depakote can keep them under control. The best approach, and I am not a doctor, is a conservative approach. Exploit all options before a knife. In my case, it was the only option, I loss complete control of my bowels which constitutes an Emergency Surgery. I hope things become better for you, and sometimes all the knowledge of your situation just exacerbates the problem. We are lucky to have plenty of options before the knife. Last, find a qualifide spine doc, mine gave my life back to me. I have learned to manage the chronic pain without taking deladid, or any other pain meds now. I can also walk with a cane, a vast improvement for me. Good luck, it does get better.

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Jmar: Thank you for your response. You seem to have come quite far with your situation. I really appreciate your openness of your situation. I have also been doing physical therapy and have other injections scheduled at this point. I was just basically questioning, as you have answered, if surgery was suggested in a similar situation. I have contacted a neurosurgeon and I am waiting for a review of my files before they decide if they would like to see me. I want to have a fix or close to a fix rather than continually placing bandaids over the wound so to say. I would rather do surgery now while I am younger and may heal faster, rather than deal with the pain for years and years and then have a surgery that may be harder to deal with. Maybe I am crazy as I have seen many bad outcomes on these boards, but I am willing to take my chances at a good outcome. I will definitely give it my all to make my situation the best it can be. Thank you again for sharing your story and I wish you continued healing.

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jmar,
I'm quite happy for your out come. I am do to have what I believe to be a total fusion at the end of Aug. Will know more at the beginning of Aug. Anyway, what I am wondering, how long does this last, do you stay mobile, are you more prone to arthritis, does it need to be updated in years down the road. Has anyone been to this point. I'm always looking to the future and wondering. I had a mylogram yesterday and it took over an hour to find a tiny space to stick a needle in to insert the dye. Suppose to be a 2 minute thing. I felt like a human pin cushion and every nerve ending is on fire today! Don't want to go through all of this again---know what I mean. I'd rather take a bottle of pills.

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Yes I think it would help, but if I were you, I'd get 3 opinions from different spinal surgeons in different locations. I went to UCSF Spine Center and was very happy with my results. My entire lower spine was herniated and I had a fusion from T10-Si. I also had adult scoliosis that was getting worse so I had to have the surgery but I am glad I did and I loved my doctor. I go back once per year now for a follow up. Good luck and I hope you get better.

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I I were you I would continue doing exercise, I would read Dr. Sarno's book before considering surgery. I had surgery and I thought that that would be the end of pain. I prefer the pain I had than what I have now. I did have pain in my lower back for around 6 years and I don't have it anymore. I think surgery is important sometimes, for me is the last resort. I was so sure I needed it. Now I wish I could turn back time. I did not use medicine before now I do.

Hope you find the best answer and get well!

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