I posted back in November with a brief intro of my history and recent problems; here is a recap: Herniated L-4 disc/discectomy-1999. Relatively pain free until November 2003; when in all my stupidity I bent down to pick-up a 50 lb bag of water softener salt and immediately felt a pull and by the end of the day I could barely walk. I saw my internist a few days later, he gave be a shot and put me on celebrex and soma and told me to rest for a week. (Even with my past surgery; he didn't think it was necessary to run any other tests.) I improved slightly, but by the end of November was pretty much in as much pain as when I originally injured my back and could barely walk -- with numbing down my left leg and burning down my right. Once again I called my Doctor (I felt I should probably have an MRI given my past history, but they said according to insurance protocal I had to have an x-ray first.) So, I immediately had the x-ray. I never heard anything from my Doctor's office, but called repeatedly and never received calls back as to the x-ray results. My assumption was that it must not have shown anything or they would have called me. Over the holidays I did notice some improvement and basically stopped calling his office. Well, by the end of December, I was once again in the same condition -- could barely walk - severe weakness and numbing of the left leg and burning down the right. I finally got into see my Doctor last week and was told they NEVER received my x-ray results and they referred me to Physical Therepy. Well, today (a week and a half later) I get a message on my voicemail saying the xray shows degenerative disc disease of the L-4 and L-5 discs and I have to see an orthopedic surgeon! I am so upset that it took so long to get the results of the xray and the lack of follow-up is very upsetting. Sorry for the long post. But, my questions are:
1. A Neurosurgeon preformed my discectomy in 1999 and he was great; I am wondering what to expect from an orthopedic surgeon?
2. I would appreciate any advice from anyone who has had this diagnosis and what to expect when I see the orthopedic surgeon.
I would appreciate any input or past experiences. You are such of an informative and supportive group...
Thanks in advance. -MJ
I am sorry no one replied, but I wanted to let you know that we are having similar frustrations, but taking different courses of action.
I hurt myself in sports last summer and had 2 MRIs, 2 epidurals, PT and anti-inflamms and nothing seems to help. I don't get better but I don't get worse. I can stand and walk but can't sit or drive for more than 10 mins. I have L5-S1 DDD with 3mm herniation. I've been to a ortho pain mgmnt doc and 3 (yes 3) ortho spine surgeons. 2 disagreed on my course of treatment (wait for annular tear to heal OR surgery before 6 mos anniversary for herniation), so I needed a consult as a tie breaker. Since they can't decide whether the herniation or the annular tear is causing my problem, I am trying to see a neuro surgeon at the suggestion of my PT guy since the nerve is involved.
I was afraid the ortho surgeon would immediately see surgery as my option, but that is not the case, until recently. They basically did the same thing as my pain mgmnt doc: examine flexibility, look at MRIs and report, test reflexes, prescribe anti-inflamms (and Nexium bec they upset my tummy), and PT and home therapy. Now that surgery is a possibility, my OS recommended a myelogram w/CT and at that point I said hold the phone, let's see what the neuro suggests. I tried to find OS who specialize in lumbar spine and sports injuries.
Let me know if there's anything else I can answer.
My injury was sports related too (figure skating). I first went to sports med, where I tried PT....and it helped initially. Another wrong fall, and I was back to square one, and back to PT. This time it didn't help, and actually made things worse. My sports doc then referred me to my ortho surgeon (they are in the same ortho group). My ortho surgeon took the conservative route before suggesting surgery, so I tried steroid injections and looked into neucloplasty. He said surgery was last resort, and definitely did not push for it. None of the conservative approaches helped, so I opted for surgery. I was told that 80% of fusions work, and 20% don't. I decided that was better odds than I had doing nothing. I'm 2 weeks post-op and feeling great. I've been fooling with this for 2 1/2 years, so I know your frustration.
I appreciate your responses. I am just so blown-away about all of this. FYI...RMurf ... a Neurosurgeon did my surgery in 1999 for my herniated L-4 disc. I could barely walked into the hospital and I actually felt better and I walked better than I had for the prior six months. I didn't even need paid medication by the time I left the hospital! It was such a relief to be free of the constant nerve related pain! I am just terrified of the possibility of fusion surgery (who knows maybe I am worrying over nothing, and the Orthopedic surgeon will take a conservative approach). I also, know that I can't live in this constant pain; it is just so frustrating! I guess I will just have to wait and see. I appreiciate both of you sharing your experiences .. it really helps.
I don't know what the final results will be with my fusion, but I'm 2 weeks post-op and doing great. Went to the doctor today. I can now drive, and plan to up my walking. No pain at all walking, and I'm off pain meds except at night (mostly because I'm a stomach sleeper and can't do that right now....so I have trouble finding a comfortable position).
It's a really tough decision. It took me a long time to decide, but at this point I'm glad I opted for it. You'll have to figure out what will work for you. It just hit me at work one day. I decided I couldn't go on in the shape I was in, any longer.........so the 80% success rate was a better option than doing nothing (which I saw as a 100% chance that things would stay the same or get worse). Good luck with whatever you decide.
michigansk8er -- thanks for the information. I am starting to feel much less stressed about all of this. I have talked to a few other people who have had longterm successful fusion outcomes and hearing your positive results really helps. Please keep us posted on your progress -- I am glad you're recovery is going so well.
sorry about your back, I am having spinal disc replacement next tuesday....l4.l5 level...hit a semi about 4 years ago...went to an ortopaedic surgeon, and they are doing a clinical trial with a new disc...I am 23 ...they told me and I expect it to restore my mobility...I was in and am in now...serious pain, but hope to get off the vicodin soon...but an orthopaedic surgeon deals with the joints...I've seen four different ones for 6 different surgeries and they have been good, but be sure....good luck!
I already posted a reply, and am brand new to the boards, so I probably am not usign them correctly, anywho...I wanted to ask those who may have had back surgery, either a disc replacement or a fusion, how was the healing process? I am having surgery soon, a week, and although I read what they say will happen, it's good to hear first hand stuff...thanks!
Good luck with your upcoming surgery. I had lumbar decompression and spinal fusion with instrumentation on February 3, 2004. It is 10 weeks today since my surgery. The pain I had for years is not bothering me now. I do have discomfort since so many nerves and muscles were messed with. This will take awhile to heal. I go to the dr's on April 28th and hopefully have an x-ray which will show that I am fusing. Bone was taken from my hip and I have no pain at that site at all. I was 5 days in the hospital. I had lots of help from my daughter for my first 2 weeks home. Just take it easy! Every time I overdo I get very sore and have to rest. Let me know how you are doing.
I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me since you have been through the fusion surgery?My problem started with a complete L4-S1 block otherwise known as Cuada Equina Syndrome.I had the surgery for that in July 2003.I had an MRI about a month ago and the surgeon told me that i now have degenretive disk disease.The disk that was operated on had herniated again(there was 60% of the disk left after he operated)Now the disk above that disk has started to herniate there is also a tear in the disk.So now i have to have fusion surgery.I cannot have the cages because i smoke.My questions are:do i have to wear a brace right after the surgery?And...I am embarassed to ask this but how do you use the bathroom afterwards if you are in that much pain?Also do you have to pay for your brace? and how much does it cost?And one last question do you regret having he surgery?I hope you respond because i am so stressed out about my surgery.
Thank you and take care
Mart7, it seems to me that you have a lot of faith in your Neuro surg. If he helped u with the first surgy, then why not go back and see him? it is important to be able to trust the Drs that are going to fix our problems (like ur life is in their hands). Sorry i dont have any info about what u r going thru, because mine is just now starting for me...I am awaiting my own WHAT to Do WHat to Do.... Good Luck