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Considering first surgery, severe lack of lumbar stamina L4/L5

Started by jdevrien on 09/23/2015 10:35pm

Hi All,

I will try to keep this as brief as possible. I'm currently 29 and have been dealing with this problem since i was 25. I'm 6'4" and weigh 200 lbs... and *appear* as though im in pretty good shape / not a guy youd want to pick a fight with. my problem was initially onset by a side business i used to have detailing cars. (being hunched over with a buffer for several hours at a time). I never had any issue and then one day i was on the floor with severe pain. An initial MRI showed no problems whatsoever and the severe pain wore off. but since then, ive never been the same. I originally saw two surgeons who were very much against doing anything surgical and maintained that stance for 3 years. Instead i, got several ESI shots, and went to PT a number of times. PT helps manage the pain but nothing seemed to fix the problem. In the last 4 years there was only 1 period of about a month that i felt relatively normal, and i made the mistake of overdoing it and screwing it back up. Ive given up working on cars like i used to, my motorcycle, bowling, golfing, etc. There are a lot of chores and projects around my house that get neglected. An MRI done a year ago showed an annular tear at L4-L5. An MRI done recently shows a bulging disc at L4-L5, but notes nothing about the tear. I am now seeing who seems to be the best surgeon in the area, and he thinks a laminectomy and some work to the disc will resolve my problems, but I am very much on the fence about it. Ive made progress with my physical therapy in the last 2 months as well but on a scale of 0-100 of where id like to be ive climbed maybe from 0 to 10. He is not pushing the surgery on me in any way, but said he would do if I am ready. He also expects 100% return to previous activity if i manage my post-op correctly.

What I really struggle with is 1) I believe the pain is more discogenic than nerve irritation and 2) I feel 98% fine as long as i avoid activity. When i avoid activity, it seems to heal but extremely slowly. to me avoiding activity is more tortuous than pain, so i find myself in a continual cycle of doing nothing for a couple weeks (recovering), then feeling better and tackling whatever amount of work i can manage within a certain pain threshold. This doesnt provide the life i want.

Another thing is that my initial power isnt lacking at all. I can take an 80 lb dumbell and throw it over my head no problem. But doing that same lift 10+ times *IS* a problem and by the tenth rep ill likely be triggering pain that will take a week to subside. This is just an example, not something i would normally do. Simply handwashing my car is enough to push me to what feels like my limit. The ache will just build and build and eventually if i push it long enough I will get nerve spasms. I would guess washing 2-3 cars at once would get me there. (Again, just for examples sake). There are a lot of very simple and basic chores that get neglected as a result of this... i dont even want to start on a lot of tasks because half the time i cant finish them. I am single and I am concerned that in the condition I am in I will never be able to get married or raise a family because im not even taking care of myself the way I would like to. I was always the type of guy that had everything clean and in order but now im always doing the bare minimum. Another thing I am factoring, is the complete lack of stamina/foundation in my lower back has also brought on some fairly substantial arthritis in my upper back/neck area and while less of a problem i dont foresee it getting any better if things continue this way.

I am uncertain what to do. I feel a change is necessary and even worth a gamble on but i dont want to make things worse than the y are. I read a lot of conflicting opinions. for everyone i know who has had surgery, surgery was the obvious choice. With me, you'd never know i had a problem until you saw me try to play sports or do manual labor.

I am also facing possible job loss in 2016, so if surgery is the right option i want to make the move soon while i still have excellent insurance coverage and paid short term disability. I will not rush a decision because of this, but i think if I am going to make a move the time is now/soon. Any input would be appreciated.

-Joel

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