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Old 01-02-2004, 08:10 AM   #31
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Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

Standing,
With those symptoms, (same as mine) the DR moved up my surgery...he was worried about permanent nerve damage and that I got progressively worse in a short period of time. I know it's a tough decision and equally tougher finding a good DR. I really was lucky in that regard when we moved to Chicago area, and did some research. I was not looking forward to having it in New Mexico! Take care, good luck with your decision and I'm here to help any way that I can!

Greg
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Old 01-02-2004, 01:17 PM   #32
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Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

Hi Greg--I remember! I think I encouraged you to get back in touch with your doc to consider moving things up when I heard about your weakness increasing.

But which symptoms do you see as the same as yours. I'm walking 1-2 hours/day and feeling stronger after. Weakness is not worse although I can't say better either than a year ago. Unlikely to get better with or without surgery from what I understand, but it doesn't effect my gait, etc. Just a bit slower going upstairs than I used to be. The main thing is still sitting.

Were you replying to Stillwater maybe?

Standingman

 
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Old 01-02-2004, 03:50 PM   #33
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Thumbs up Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

Hi there,
I had L5-S1 hemilaminectomy with microdiscectomy surgery on February 18th, 2002 (see my signature) and it was the best thing I could have ever done. Since then I have had no sciatic/radicular pain, and I just had a baby 3 weeks ago without back complications! (I got pregnant about a month after the surgery.) So, it IS possible to have a successful back surgery.

Good luck to everyone out there!
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L5-S1 hemilami w/ microdiscectomy 2/18/03 - right leg pain gone
Successful chiropractic care 2005-2011
Daily low back pain and HORRIBLE spasms since 2011
L5-S1 ALIF 6/30/12 - back pain is GONE!

 
Old 01-03-2004, 07:52 AM   #34
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Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

Standingman- Some of your statements paralleled my situation sao I wanted to respond. On November 24, 2003 I had a lumbar lami at L4-L5, and I believe a foraminotomy above and below. This occurred following several months of injections and two tries at PT. This pain, diagnosed as arthritic/stenosis, started gradually about 3 years ago in one calf. This year it got pretty bad on the right side to the point where I started considering surgery as I could not stand for long, and sometimes could not walk more than 10 or 15 minutes. Tennis, swimming, running, I stopped. However there were days when, while walking, I could barely feel the pain and felt as if I could hike 10 miles as I used to. The neuro who did the surgery seemed very thorough, and said 80-90 chance of some or all pain relief.

At this point post -op I have told him I really have no relief and the symptoms are the same. I am starting physical therapy, but am not real hopeful. He now says a fusion is the only option, and was not encouraging of it.

Another point I will make is that I saw a spine Orthopaedist for another opinion prior to surgery, who said my myelogram showed the dye flowing normally through the nerve roots. He indicated that when you get that myelogram result, there is a 50-50 chance of any relief. He was one of these brilliant, egotistical types that didn't return phone calls so I opted to go with the Neurosurgeon who appeared just as brilliant, but with a better bedside manner.

At this point I don't want to go near a surgeon but would rather see again what I can do myself. I probably will in the future as I get older.

Retrospectively, I may have gotten more throrough opinions before jumping in. However I am keeping this whole event in perspective. You roll the dice.Just thought I'd share this as I had finally reached a point where I went for the surgery, despite the fact that at times I felt almost normal. It was a decision largely based on quality of life- sports-recreation. I am in my early fifties and didn't want to pack it in yet.

Nice to hear from you keeping it going and good luck. Any thoughts would be welcome

Kokomo








[QUOTE=standingman]Friends--For those of you who've been on this board a while, you know that this thread's title is copied from SHG's on "good fusion outcomes wanted," recently reincarnated by Brooke.

This thread is intended to be in much the same spirit--a chance to share experiences between those who've had laminectomies (recent or distant, and including laminectomy/discectomy combos) and/or anticipate having a lami, either definite or possible. I know there are are number of us in that group--Greg B. just had one; Stillwater, I think, is contemplating one; Shosharnah and I are also in the "contemplating" group; and no doubt there are many others.

The goal would be to help each other with the decision-making process; the experience of surgery itself; and aftercare issues and expectations. Of course, many other threads also deal with these questions. Without being too repetititive, we may want to bring in some of the "greatest hits" from earlier threads that relate to this one. Clearly, the decision-making process and criteria have been discussed many times.

Personally, I would say the odds are about 60-40 I will have the surgery, most likely by this spring if not sooner, unless I see some clear progress. Although not in chronic pain if I "stay in the box," that box is very narrow, both re: sitting and a whole range of things that are the "wrong move." Although I am very lucky to have a job (college prof) in which I have been able to accomodate my situation, I would say that, across work/social/recreational spheres, I've had to give up about half of what had once been "normal" life. That may be the way it remains; I may look back and consider this the _good_ times. Who knows!?

The neurosurgeon I've seen is not veryencouraging, partly because of the function I do have (I continue to do a lot of walking and don't have much trouble with that and, as above, pain itself not that bad if I'm very limiting in other ways). Given what are always uncertainties, and his generally conservative approach (which I like), he says a lami would have about a 50-50 chance of being helpful (with help defined broadly). In the downside 50, about 10-15% chance of things actually getting worse. As I look back, I'd say I made a good deal of progress from July '02 (when things really crashed) to November of that year. Since then--about the past year--it's been more of a wash; some things have gotten a bit better, other things worse, in general a lot of up and down. I had significant nerve damage when this began--documented by emg and by measureable atrophy, especially of the left lateral quad. My upper left leg strength has never returned to what it was before the "crash"--I'd say, if I lost 50%, I'm back to somewhere around 80%, or what had been normal for me. I worry about the continuing irritation of the nerve, and I worry that surgery could make that even worse--a common bind for many of us, I know.

So let me stop there. Others' thoughts, experiences, reflections, are very welcome!

Standingman[/QUOTE]
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Old 01-03-2004, 01:08 PM   #35
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Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

I've been following this thread since I just had a laminectomy/discectomy at L/4 L/5 on the 29th of Dec. While I'm having much less pain/sciatica in the right thigh, it's still there when I sit. Standing & walking are much improved, although I've been afraid of overdoing it. It's more of a tightness & tingling. I'm not taking nearly as much pain meds though, so for that I'm thankful. My question is-does this improve with time, or is this it? Doc hasn't said much about physical therapy yet, I have my follow up on Tues.

Carol

Last edited by confusedpatient; 01-03-2004 at 01:27 PM.

 
Old 01-03-2004, 02:50 PM   #36
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Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

Folks--First of all, it's great to see new participants on this thread! My impression is that some quite valuable threads disappear because they become dialogues or trialogues with just a few people. It becomes hard/impossible for new people comfortably to join in.

Also, it is obvious that we learn more when we have a wider range of experiences--both with surgeries, decison-making, timing of recoveries, means and limits of recovery, etc.

One of the general issues that seems clear is the variations, not only in results, but in timing. Personally, were I to go with the surgery, I expect I wouldn't be in a position to judge its success until at least six months out. We've heard a lot of stories on this board from people who did great for a few months post-op, and then things seemed to go back. And also stories of people who didn't think they were going anywhere, but eventually did get better and even much better. So anything as recent as a month or two--Kokomo and Carol's surgeries--would, I'd feel--need more time to see. There's so much disruption in a surgery; and often a number of years in which the problem or some version of it has been there.

Etoile--Was your progess clear from the beginning? How long would you say was your overall recovery?

A few other specific questions and responses:

Greg, my man! I hope my last question didn't put you "on the spot" in any sense. Looking back, I think what you probably meant was that the persisting weakness you had (lower in your leg than mine) was what made the surgery decision for you, and then more urgently when things started to go south quicker. As I've said, I would definitely go with it if things got worse, as they eventually did for you. This flatlining makes the decision _seem_ harder and, perhaps, less urgent. I don't want to be pessimistic, but I did have definite nerve damage at the start. The part I haven't recovered, from what i gather from docs, is probably not likely to get back no matter what. At this point, surgery would be to try to keep things from getting any worse, especially re: weakness. And thus the struggle--since the chance of surgery itself causing more damage not trivial.

Kokomo--As above, I really hope that time will move things along for you. I'm wondering--was your myelogram really entirely normal? if so, on what basis did they decide what level to decompress? Certainly calf pain sounds like L4-5, but I believe there are other possibilities/complexities there. My CT-myelo definitely shows more focal stenosis at 2-3, although not what most seem to to think is "severe" and perhaps less tight than it had been, as suggested by comparison with an earlier MRI. (From what I gather, it's hard to compare MRI with myelo, but an experience reader can "infer" to some extent).
0therwise, you are right we seem to have much in common--about the same age, combination of causes for stenosis, a range of daily experiences. As I've described, I still can do 4-5 mile walks almost every day, but I can't say they ever feel quite normal. There are degrees, especially at about the 45 minute mark. Usually, I'll either start feeling stronger then or tighter and a bit more "brittle." I don't think I've ever had to stop, though, and if I did, that would move me to surgery too.
I was never a runner or swimmer, but golf was a major passion--always walked, carried clubs, and moved quickly. It would be a real miracle if _that_ ever became possible again, with or without surgery! But I'd be happy just to drive or sit in general for a few hours.

Carol--You are a real "newbie" in terms of recent surgery! Hopefully, Greg, Etoile, and others can give you a sense of the patterns in their recovery and how they may be like or not like yours. Everyone seems to agree that lamis/MD's are best for leg pain. Back pain, especially as related to sitting, less so. But you are such a recent hatchling that it would be hard to put much stock in any patterns right now.

In any event, let's keep this going in ways useful to each other and others who, hopefully, will join too.

Standingman

 
Old 01-05-2004, 05:50 AM   #37
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gdbreedlove HB User
Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

Confused!

Glad to hear of your successful surgery, and in my opinion things should get better with time, but time is different for everyone. I am 25 days post op and am seeing some gain in strength of my left leg, and have no tingling whatsoever. Also off of pain meds, which I'm thankful for! Take it easy, let your DR know what is going on...everything, and he/she will probably set you up for PT later down the line. Take care and good luck!

Greg
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Old 01-05-2004, 01:46 PM   #38
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standingman HB User
Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

Greg--I'm going to be in the Chicago area next month (not that far away) and am thinking that your doc, about whom you clearly feel so good, might be a good person to consult re: my own situation. I have checked the board rules, and find that naming a doctor and his/her city is OK, so long as no other contact information is appended (phone #, etc.). If that seems OK with you, I would appreciate! (I was going to put in my own contact info, but learned that is not OK as far as board rules.)

Thanks,

Standing

Last edited by standingman; 01-05-2004 at 01:54 PM.

 
Old 01-07-2004, 07:19 AM   #39
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Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

Hi everyone, wanted to pass along my results at one week post op. Doc was not surprised I'm still having some leg pain. He explained that a compressed nerve can take 6-12 mo.'s to heal. He said nerves recover quite slowly. In my case I was having heel pain for over a year & i wrote it off to bad shoes or a heel spur. It wasn't until 6 months ago when I starting having incredible leg pain & a creepy crawly feeling in my foot that I suspected a disc problem. I had dealt with that 6 years prior.

To jump start things I'm going to try Celebrex. They had me take an anti-inflammatory for 48 hours after surgery then stop. Not sure why. Things seemed much better while I was on it. Also, I'm starting PT Monday, 3 x a week. So, I hope this helps someone else. I talked to too many people who said after surgery their pain was gone instantly & therefore my expectations were perhaps not realistic.

Thanks for the encouraging words everyone, this site has helped me through one of my longest weeks ever. I want to add that I switched doc's midway thru this process, from an ortho to a neuro. That was the best decision I made. You have to have confidence in your doc. More later.

Carol

 
Old 01-07-2004, 12:27 PM   #40
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Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

I have a couple of questions for those of you who have already had a laminectomy. How long were you in the hospital? What kind of restrictions did you have upon release? How long off work? Could you climb stairs? Were you advised not to sit for more than a few minutes at a time?

I guess that's more than "a couple", isn't it? Please include anything else you think it would be helpful for us to know, or that you wish you'd known prior to surgery.

Thanks.

StillWater

Last edited by StillWater; 01-07-2004 at 12:29 PM.

 
Old 01-07-2004, 01:49 PM   #41
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Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

Hey Stillwater, how's it going? I'll try to answer your questions. #1 - I had my surgery on December 11th, got out of recovery about 4:00 pm and went home the next day (12th) at noon. #2 - Restrictions were typical, no driving, no lifting, minimal sitting, try to walk every other hour around the house if possible, pain medication as needed, etc. #3 - I pushed this more than I was supposed to, but I had surgery on Thursday and worked several hours on the next Monday (wife drove me) and then slowly increased my hours each day until I was working full time 8-10 days after surgery (office job where I can sit, get up and walk around if I need to). #4 - I was allowed to climb stairs, bedromm is upstairs and they made me walk stairs in the hospital before they would let me go home! #5 - Advised to sit no more than 10-15 minutes at a time and I probably did more than that. I feel the aggressiveness of the DR to get me up and walking after surgery helped. Like I said, I was out of recovery at 4 and the nurse had me walking at 8 in the evening. Let me know if you have any other questions, and take care!!!

Greg
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Old 01-08-2004, 01:07 AM   #42
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Cool Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

I had a Laminectomy to try and correct or remove scar tissue and nerve damage. I had this over a year ago. T-4 thru T-9 .I did not have good lick with this at all. From the time the Neuro done this ,until today, I am in constant pain and nothing helps it as I am quite allergic to mpst pain meds. I just wish I had never had the laminectomy, because now I can't even lay on my back to sleep because it is always sore internally and externally..
Arlene

 
Old 01-08-2004, 05:28 AM   #43
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Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

[QUOTE=lacydoll]I had a Laminectomy to try and correct or remove scar tissue and nerve damage..... T-4 thru T-9 ...
Arlene[/QUOTE]

I'm confused. I thought that a laminectomy, if done on more than one level, removed so much bone that it caused destabilization, and thus required a fusion of the affected levels. Wouldn't the described operation above -- done on 5 levels -- cause the spine to collapse if they were not fused?

 
Old 01-08-2004, 04:06 PM   #44
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Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

[QUOTE=StillWater]I have a couple of questions for those of you who have already had a laminectomy. How long were you in the hospital? What kind of restrictions did you have upon release? How long off work? Could you climb stairs? Were you advised not to sit for more than a few minutes at a time?

I guess that's more than "a couple", isn't it? Please include anything else you think it would be helpful for us to know, or that you wish you'd known prior to surgery.

Thanks.

StillWater[/QUOTE]


Want to reiterate Stillwater's questions for others who have had surgery--maybe especially the 'what do you wish you knew?' question! That could prove helpful to many of us on the way.

Re: Pippin's question to Lacydoll, the expectation of instability with that many levels of laminectomy would have been my thought too. Let's see what LD says. What occurs to me is that laminectomy can mean a lot of different things in terms of how much bone/joint is actually removed. If the main structure of the joints were left intact, it may be possible to do more selective laminectomies at several levels. From some of the reports here and elsewhere, it sounds fairly common to have one "major" laminectomy at one level, and then more "trimming" of bone at some adjacent ones, as called for. In any event, to Lacydoll, I can only express my sadness that it turned out to have such a negative result for you.

Carol--Very glad you got that reassuring word from your surgeon. Timing is such a tricky thing about all this. You hear every version--the "pain free when I woke up" story and the "it took me two years before I felt anything like normal.' And every other permutation, with some fluctuations along the way. Personally, if/when I have surgery, I don't think I'd expect to really know the outcome until several months had elapsed. Even if I felt quite good soon after, I've heard enough stories of "slides" and then recoveries at several milestones out--even months out. Along with all the other things that are hard; having to wait and see often one more load for us Lumbar Jocks (see Idet thread) to bear.

Best to all,

Standingman

 
Old 01-09-2004, 06:04 AM   #45
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Re: Good laminectomy outcomes wanted (really, all experiences)

Standing, here's an answer to the "What do I wish I had known?" I wish I had known that the guy holding the ladder 25 years ago was going to walk away and let the ladder slip which led to me falling off the roof!!! Other than that, the surgeon and his nurse did a good job preparing me for what I was going to be going thru! I was a little shocked at how soon they get you up and walking around. I guess I would have expected some kind of as brace as well, but that never happened either.

Have a good day!

Greg
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