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Old 03-11-2004, 06:30 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 8
sydney girl HB User
Successful Back Surgery

Hi there

I came to this website a couple of years ago, as I was trying to weigh up whether or not to get back surgery. I promised myself if I did, and my surgery was a success I would return to the message board and share my story, as all I read here are tales of woe!

I had a bulging disc at L5-S1 which was compressing my sciatic nerve - this resulted in me not being able to walk or stand for more than a couple of minutes without pain or total numbness down my left leg.

I spent months trying other options, (acupuncture, physio, chiropractor, medication, osteo, exercise etc. etc.) as I believe surgery should always be a last resort. However it became evident that my particular problem had been there too long to be changed by these alternative methods and surgery was my best chance of recovery.

I had a discetomy at Prince of Wales hospital in Sydney in August 2002 and my symptoms completely disappeared. It did take me months to return to a 100%normal fitness level, but this is expected. You do need a lot of patience - after years of a bad back and chronic pain, it is not going to be fixed overnight. I still swim, visit the physio, and do regular back strengthening exercises, but all in all I feel great.

My advice to anyone contemplating back surgery is:
1) EXPLORE ALL YOUR OPTIONS - some back problems can be helped by alternative methods if they are a recent problem or cause by injury.
2) RESEARCH YOUR SURGEON - ask your GP to refer you to a conservative surgeon (one who is only likely to recommend surgery if absolutely necessary). I went with a neurosurgeon (nerves) rather than an orthopaedic surgeon (bones) as they deal with such fragile nerves around the spine. Try to speak to nurses at the hospital, other patients in the waiting room, your physio may also have patients with experience you can talk to. You will soon discover who is a good or bad surgeon.
3) GET A GOOD PHYSIOTHERAPIST. This is extremely important - not just for rehabilitation after the operation, (it is crucial to gain proper muscle function and eliminate the scar tissue) but many disc problems are caused by some weakness already there in the spine. This needs to be addressed or the chances of needing a 2nd or 3rd operation are increased. A good physio can help with this.
4) DONT LOSE PATIENCE. Accept that a back operation is not a 'quick fix' and may not be the end to all your problems. If you have had chronic back pain for years, it will take months for you to get back to normal. You can be 100% better again, but it will come gradually. If you take it easy, keep seeing a physiotherapist and do the daily exercises they prescribe, and you will recover. And your chances of needing surgery in the future will be dramatically reduced.

So many people come to this message board in despair and pain, looking for answers, but rarely do you hear of any positive feedback. This is because most people who have had success and aren't in pain anymore usually get on with their lives, and don't need to return to the message board. But I think it's important for those of you contemplating surgery to realise there are just as many (if not more!) success stories out there as there are failures.

Good luck!

Last edited by sydney girl; 03-11-2004 at 06:37 AM.

 
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Old 03-11-2004, 06:47 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 147
jettsmom HB User
Re: successful back surgery

Wow good for you! It took me some time to realize that yes..I may be having a hard time now but I will get better. I visit this board everyday and get caught up in the pain that everyone feels and you start to think that this is the way it is now. My husband hates it when I read about others posts because I get so frusterated that I'm not gonna get through this but I believe it will happen for me eventually. Thanks for your encouragement and the light at the end of the tunnel! Good luck!

 
Old 03-11-2004, 07:01 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 261
StillWater HB User
Re: successful back surgery

Sidney Girl,

Thank you for coming back and sharing! We need to hear stories like yours - I know I do, especially right now.

StillWater

Last edited by StillWater; 03-11-2004 at 07:02 AM.

 
Old 03-15-2004, 02:37 AM   #4
Registered User
(female)
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 183
jacritch HB User
Thumbs up Re: Successful Back Surgery

Hi,
I am also so glad I found this board. There are people out there with a lot of the same symptoms as I have and I don't feel so alone. I have had back pain on and off for years. A few months ago the pain came to stay. I am 42 years old and I started to feel like 80. So I decided I would have surgery.
I just had a foraminectomy on Thursday. The MRI results were DDD and a herniated disk and a bulging disk at l4 l5. The option was a foraminectomy or a spinal fusion. I had the nerve block for a diagnostic tool to see if it was a pinched nerve and it worked for a few days. I felt like a different person. My mood was better and my outlook on life improved in just three days, but unfortunately the pain returned with a vengenece. The l5 nerve was pinched. We scheduled surgery. My surgeon ended up shaving the bone to release the l5 nerve and he said the s1 nerve was (as he put it) velcroed to my vertebrae so he released the nerve, injected it with steroids and put a lubricant on it to prevent it from sticking to the vertebrae. I had the surgery on Thursday and was home that evening. I have surgery pain, but the pain I had before is almost gone. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will work. He did say if this doesn't work there are other options. I am very optimistic about the surgery and now I am glad I had it.

Thanks for listening.

Judy


[QUOTE=sydney girl]Hi there

I came to this website a couple of years ago, as I was trying to weigh up whether or not to get back surgery. I promised myself if I did, and my surgery was a success I would return to the message board and share my story, as all I read here are tales of woe!

I had a bulging disc at L5-S1 which was compressing my sciatic nerve - this resulted in me not being able to walk or stand for more than a couple of minutes without pain or total numbness down my left leg.

I spent months trying other options, (acupuncture, physio, chiropractor, medication, osteo, exercise etc. etc.) as I believe surgery should always be a last resort. However it became evident that my particular problem had been there too long to be changed by these alternative methods and surgery was my best chance of recovery.

I had a discetomy at Prince of Wales hospital in Sydney in August 2002 and my symptoms completely disappeared. It did take me months to return to a 100%normal fitness level, but this is expected. You do need a lot of patience - after years of a bad back and chronic pain, it is not going to be fixed overnight. I still swim, visit the physio, and do regular back strengthening exercises, but all in all I feel great.

My advice to anyone contemplating back surgery is:
1) EXPLORE ALL YOUR OPTIONS - some back problems can be helped by alternative methods if they are a recent problem or cause by injury.
2) RESEARCH YOUR SURGEON - ask your GP to refer you to a conservative surgeon (one who is only likely to recommend surgery if absolutely necessary). I went with a neurosurgeon (nerves) rather than an orthopaedic surgeon (bones) as they deal with such fragile nerves around the spine. Try to speak to nurses at the hospital, other patients in the waiting room, your physio may also have patients with experience you can talk to. You will soon discover who is a good or bad surgeon.
3) GET A GOOD PHYSIOTHERAPIST. This is extremely important - not just for rehabilitation after the operation, (it is crucial to gain proper muscle function and eliminate the scar tissue) but many disc problems are caused by some weakness already there in the spine. This needs to be addressed or the chances of needing a 2nd or 3rd operation are increased. A good physio can help with this.
4) DONT LOSE PATIENCE. Accept that a back operation is not a 'quick fix' and may not be the end to all your problems. If you have had chronic back pain for years, it will take months for you to get back to normal. You can be 100% better again, but it will come gradually. If you take it easy, keep seeing a physiotherapist and do the daily exercises they prescribe, and you will recover. And your chances of needing surgery in the future will be dramatically reduced.

So many people come to this message board in despair and pain, looking for answers, but rarely do you hear of any positive feedback. This is because most people who have had success and aren't in pain anymore usually get on with their lives, and don't need to return to the message board. But I think it's important for those of you contemplating surgery to realise there are just as many (if not more!) success stories out there as there are failures.

Good luck![/QUOTE]

 
Old 03-15-2004, 06:31 AM   #5
Newbie
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 8
sydney girl HB User
Re: successful back surgery

Hi everyone - thanks for replying and I'm really glad if sharing my experience helps even one person stay positive. Chronic back pain is nasty and it does affect your mood and well being, but it doesnít always have to stay that way!

Judy - please make sure that you get a good physiotherapist if you don't have one already. Its so important to work on strengthening your back, getting the correct posture etc. for the surgery to stay successful and avoid needing more operations in future.

Surgery will often remove the current pain and agony, but will not fix those fundamental problems. Almost two years later, I still need to work hard at keeping my back in shape and not overdoing it. I find swimming a fantastic help too.

Unfortunately this is a condition that we 'bad back' people live with, not something that will be fixed overnight. So we need to pay attention to it and take care of ourselves.

Good luck and stay positive!

 
Old 03-19-2004, 01:00 PM   #6
Newbie
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1
ladyLyn HB User
Smile Re: Successful Back Surgery

[QUOTE=sydney girl]Hi there

I came to this website a couple of years ago, as I was trying to weigh up whether or not to get back surgery. I promised myself if I did, and my surgery was a success I would return to the message board and share my story, as all I read here are tales of woe!

I had a at which was compressing my sciatic nerve - this resulted in me not being able to walk or stand for more than a couple of minutes without pain or total numbness down my left leg.

I spent months trying other options, (acupuncture, physio, chiropractor, medication, osteo, exercise etc. etc.) as I believe surgery should always be a last resort. However it became evident that my particular problem had been there too long to be changed by these alternative methods and surgery was my best chance of recovery.

I had a discetomy at Prince of Wales hospital in Sydney in August 2002 and my symptoms completely disappeared. It did take me months to return to a 100%normal fitness level, but this is expected. You do need a lot of patience - after years of a bad back and chronic pain, it is not going to be fixed overnight. I still swim, visit the physio, and do regular back strengthening exercises, but all in all I feel great.

My advice to anyone contemplating back surgery is:
1) EXPLORE ALL YOUR OPTIONS - some back problems can be helped by alternative methods if they are a recent problem or cause by injury.
2) RESEARCH YOUR SURGEON - ask your GP to refer you to a conservative surgeon (one who is only likely to recommend surgery if absolutely necessary). I went with a neurosurgeon (nerves) rather than an orthopaedic surgeon (bones) as they deal with such fragile nerves around the spine. Try to speak to nurses at the hospital, other patients in the waiting room, your physio may also have patients with experience you can talk to. You will soon discover who is a good or bad surgeon.
3) GET A GOOD PHYSIOTHERAPIST. This is extremely important - not just for rehabilitation after the operation, (it is crucial to gain proper muscle function and eliminate the scar tissue) but many disc problems are caused by some weakness already there in the spine. This needs to be addressed or the chances of needing a 2nd or 3rd operation are increased. A good physio can help with this.
4) DONT LOSE PATIENCE. Accept that a back operation is not a 'quick fix' and may not be the end to all your problems. If you have had chronic back pain for years, it will take months for you to get back to normal. You can be 100% better again, but it will come gradually. If you take it easy, keep seeing a physiotherapist and do the daily exercises they prescribe, and you will recover. And your chances of needing surgery in the future will be dramatically reduced.

So many people come to this message board in despair and pain, looking for answers, but rarely do you hear of any positive feedback. This is because most people who have had success and aren't in pain anymore usually get on with their lives, and don't need to return to the message board. But I think it's important for those of you contemplating surgery to realise there are just as many (if not more!) success stories out there as there are failures.

Good luck![/QUOTE]



Hi Sidney,
I just found this site and I am having back issues.......MRI found my L1 L4 was ruptured and fragmented and a growth. I am so new to my condition I am just looking for information and some answers. I have an appointment to see the Spine Center for them to evaluate my MRI and determine what the next step will be. My pain and numbness has been on my right side, I also have a numbness in my right colon so that is a problem. They also saw a growth......so without a creative miracle I am looking at what type of surgeries are available and what level of quality of life I would have better than I am today. Pain 24/7, not able to drive for the pain, weakness in right side, limited walking, sitting, standing. I really want back the active life I am accustom too. I have always experienced some pain since I can remember my back has always hurt...

Last edited by ladyLyn; 03-19-2004 at 01:25 PM.

 
Old 03-19-2004, 01:48 PM   #7
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 79
dustie HB User
Re: successful back surgery

sydney girl, you're a peach for coming back here with your story. i just had back surgery two weeks ago, and it means a lot to read a post like yours. if you're still reading . . . can you give me an idea how long after surgery one should wait before starting physical therapy? everything you said about the need to address the fundamental cause of the problem is right on the mark, and i'm determined to strengthen my back and the rest of my self to try to avoid a chronic condition. my surgeon so far says absolutely not yet on p.t. for me -- but hasn't given me an idea when the time will be right. i know it's different for everyone, but how long after your surgery did you start therapy?

for two years (1999-2001) i had chronic foot problems with disabling pain. i stayed on the message board i found for two additional years to try to help newbies and also offer hope. i still go back occasionally to do what you just did. my hat is off to you, because not many people think to do it, and it can be so helpful. one of the worst side effects of any kind of chronic pain, especially when it is crippling, is the depression and hopelessness that sometimes accompany it. that kind of wounded spirit can become as painful as the original condition itself and can get in the way of recovery.

thank you!
dustie

 
Old 03-20-2004, 12:22 AM   #8
Inactive
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: California
Posts: 132
Racharina HB User
Re: Successful Back Surgery

Hello sydney girl:
How long did it take you to get back to normal?

Man, it has been 8 months after my surgery and I still have lot of pain. I would say my surgery only helped me about 50%. This last week has been very discouraging for me.

Do you think if I am not better in 8 months means I am in the group of unluckiest one?

I am depressed.
-R

 
Old 03-21-2004, 11:28 PM   #9
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: PA
Posts: 12
wine2 HB User
Smile Re: successful back surgery

Hi Sidney, I don't know if you will be back on the boards, but I want to let you know how much better you have made me feel. I go see my surgen on April first about having surgery on my back. I have Spinal Stenosis and numbness that goes down my right leg. I am so afraid of surgery because every one tell's me that I will be sorry if I have it done for I will be worse. So Thanks so much for your post. Theresa.

 
Old 03-22-2004, 06:06 AM   #10
Senior Veteran
(female)
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 590
Mistina HB User
Re: Successful Back Surgery

Hi Racharina,
I'm wondering what type of surgery you had and what kind of pain are you still experiencing. I am almost 7 months post op and still have problems too.


Christina

 
Old 03-22-2004, 07:22 AM   #11
Senior Veteran
(female)
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 593
Jessie1 HB User
Re: successful back surgery

Sydney Girl,
Thanks for posting this! It's great to hear from someone who has had such a successful recovery. I'm having surgery on Thursday (hemilaminectomy/discectomy), and hopefully it will go as well as yours! Thanks again, and good luck to everyone!
Jessie

 
Old 03-22-2004, 09:15 AM   #12
Inactive
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: California
Posts: 132
Racharina HB User
Re: Successful Back Surgery

Hello Mistina:

I had hemilaminectomy/discectomy Right side (7/16/03). Prior to surgery I had horrible leg pain (like my muscles), cramps, numbness on my right toes, there was a burning sensation on my disc, like if it was boiling water, my hips would hurt as it my pelvis was splitting apart, buttocks pain, then I had the "cable pain" all along the back of my Right leg. This was all the time 24/7.

Now, it has improved. I would say 50%. I have pain everyday, but it is only about 2 to 3 in the scale, very mild, but it is there. I can go now by without painkillers for about 8 days, then hits back on for another 4 to 5 days. I have to take a painkiller here and there on those bad days otherwise it won't go away. Then goes down again in the scale. Like a cycle.

Post/op I have buttock pain, hip pain but I don't feel it as splitting like I used to prior/op, I still feel the disc burning, and my legs hurt every now and then. I don't have numbness anymore.

Post/op feel much better, but I guess i put my hopes up too high and I am little bit disappointed not to feel a higher improvement. However, I must tell you that in the goods days, even tho I still feel some pain, I am able to work out, shop alllll day , and do a lot of activities, and the most important be happy. Kind of like a charge for when the bad days come.

I talked to a guy that has had 5 surgeries. He started at 18 with a herniated disc and now is 42. He improved about 50% after surgery. Also told me that he also is in the "wave". Some days goods some days bad. Says the change of weather has a lot to do with it. Also said that you need about 2 years to completely recover if indeed you will recover from the herniation.
-R

 
Old 06-17-2004, 06:31 AM   #13
Newbie
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 8
sydney girl HB User
Re: successful back surgery

Hi guys - thank you so much for posting. I have been away and not reading the boards, so sorry for the late reply.

Dustie - are you getting physio yet? I seem to recall I started up with my physiotherapy about 6-8 weeks after surgery. You do have to wait until you have recovered from the surgery and ease back into light treatment and exercises, but again it's not good to wait too long as you can build up scar tissue which causes stiffness and pain.

Racharina & Mistina - Don't give up. You need to work at getting better as the surgery will not fix the fundamental problems. Are you undergoing treatment? physio? doing any stretching or swimming? I have found that doing daily exercises prescribed by my physio and swimming really helps. In fact I notice when I don't swim for a couple of weeks or if I slack off with my stretches, I get back pain and I also get cranky!! I have just accepted this as a way of life now so I MAKE myself do it. Itís a couple of years on from my surgery and I know if I don't keep looking after myself my back will revert to the way it was before.

So much of it is about state of mind, so if you live healthy, look after yourself and try not to get depressed it really helps.

Another practical thing I have been doing is alternating between sitting on a chair and a 'Swiss/exercise Ball' at work. The ball forces you to sit up straight, and to actually keep balanced, you automatically work the muscles around your spine that give you core stability and strength in your lower back, without even thinking about it! Posture is key to recovering too!

Theresa Ė surgery does not have to be a disaster. It was the solution I needed to get my back into gear and I am the better for having it. (I could hardly walk before my operation!) Again, the key is what you do afterwards to prevent the condition happening again.

And ladyLyn Ė donít give up hope, there are solutions. Talk to a doctor you can trust and try not to get down when you read this depressing site! You can come out on top if you refuse to let it beat you.

Good luck guys and thanks for responding. Iím so pleased that sharing my story has given a bit of positivity to others.

p.s. I hope your surgery went well Jessie1!

Last edited by sydney girl; 06-17-2004 at 06:34 AM.

 
Old 06-17-2004, 10:34 AM   #14
Senior Veteran
(female)
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 593
Jessie1 HB User
Re: successful back surgery

Sydney girl,
My surgery went very well, and I was really pleased with the result (especially since I always said surgery would be my last resort). Unfortunately, 3 weeks post-op I got in a car accident and re-herniated. Now I am probably looking at another surgery soon, so hopefully it will go as well as the first! Thanks again for sharing your experience!

Jessie

 
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