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Old 01-15-2005, 08:40 AM   #1
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tne212 HB User
update / ruptured disc

hello backboard! thank you for all of your kind support back when i first posted in december. at that time, i had been having severe sciatica problems for several weeks and had been taking NSIDs from the doctor. everyone encouraged me to get a MRI, which i did as soon as the holidays were over and was able to schedule one. as promised, i wanted to update everyone on the results: the two bottom discs (are those my L5-S1 & L4-L5 discs?) are protruding into my spinal column; the lower one is ruptured, the next one bulging.

i've done the steroid pack and am still continuing with physical therapy. i saw the doctor on friday and he was surprised to see me walking without my cane and decided to keep me going on PT and see what happens in another two weeks.

school has started and as per everyone's advice, i obtained seat cushions and am doing what i can to make it through classes (i'm there! but can't say i'm able to pay attention to anything).

however, the mornings are still horrible (pain shooting down into my calf, i ice for 20 min, then walk around, stretch, then take a hot shower -the pain is still there, but more tolerable, and subsides gradually over the day as i do more walking - except for the times when i'm sitting in class). anyone else out there have this type of problem and was able to resolve with only PT and meds?

Last edited by tne212; 01-15-2005 at 08:47 AM. Reason: wanted to fix the disc labels

 
Old 01-15-2005, 09:18 AM   #2
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Re: update / ruptured disc

Tne, you have the discs right. Most disc injuries will heal without any surgical intervention so it is very possible you will heal up fine with what you are doing. Make sure you keep in contact with your doctor in case you stop improving or you take a step backwards. I am glad to see you are at least making it to class. I hope it does not affect your grades too much. Thanks for the update and I hope you keep getting better. Keep on walking!

Alan

 
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Old 01-15-2005, 09:40 AM   #3
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Tifferzz HB User
Re: update / ruptured disc

Hi tne212, I have the same problems as you. I have a ruptured disc at L5-S1 that is pinching my nerve root and a bulging disc at L4-L5. Sitting for me really s*cks!! It hurts bad if I try to sit in a chair up-right. I either have to sit and lean forward with my elbows on my knees or I have to like sit on the couch with both of my legs folded and up on the couch while my upper body leans on the edge of the couch. Or laying in bed on either side helps but then when I try to turn over it hurts!! I have most of my pain on my left butt cheek and down the back of my left leg. I get tingling in the back of my leg and sometimes my foot. I wish walking helped me!! Walking makes it worse then it makes my back start hurting when I walk.

I am on Propoxyphene (pain meds) but to be honest, I don't think they help me at all. They just make me sleepy but it doesn't take the pain away. So, I don't take them that often ....usually just at bedtime to help me sleep. I haven't tried ice yet on my back. I use my heating pad and it helps as I am using it but as soon as I turn it off i feel the pain again. I might have to try the ice.

I went to see a Neurosurgeon the first week of January and I WISH he would have said that I could try PT first. But he said that was not an option for me He said that I needed surgery so that the disc rupture does not adhere/attach to my nerve root. I was actually supposed to call back this past Monday to schedule my surgery .... but I still have not called back yet. I am too scared!! I have been hoping that this will go away, although it started about a month and a half ago and I have not had 1 totally pain free day since then. I keep thinking to myself ... if I go a little longer maybe the pain will go away. I just tried Pilates for the first time today since this last bout of back pain. I used to do Pilates 3 times a week then had to stop when this started again with my back. I couldn't do a lot of things but I just did the best I could without over-doing it. I guess I will have to see how I am later in the day after doing that

I hope that your problems will get better with PT! Definitely let us know after the next 2 weeks of PT how you are doing. I am definitely eager to know since you have the same problems as me

 
Old 01-15-2005, 10:01 AM   #4
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Re: update / ruptured disc

Tifferzz, you may want to get a second opinion on whether pt would help or not. I get a little skeptical of a doctor who seems to be pushing you to have surgery. It should always be the last resort. You may remember I had a microdiscectomy in August and I have been very happy with the results but that was after I exhausted pretty much everything else. Hang in there!

Alan

 
Old 01-15-2005, 12:41 PM   #5
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Re: update / ruptured disc

Tne, I'm glad you got an MRI to see what was going on, and that PT seems to be helping you. Please keep us updated!

Tifferzz, if I were you I would get a second opinion. It's just very strange that a doc is pushing surgery on you so soon and hasn't had you try any alternatives. As Al said, surgery is a last resort. Please check with another doctor. After they operate on your spine, it's never quite the same. Let us know what's going on!

Jessie

 
Old 01-15-2005, 03:05 PM   #6
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Tifferzz HB User
Re: update / ruptured disc

Yeah Jessie and Al, even when this Neurosurgeon said about surgery my husband looked at him and said so PT isn't an option? And the Neurosurgeon at this point no. He said ... now 2 years ago when they were bulging yes, but not now. He saw my MRI films from 2 years ago when this back stuff all started. He said now ... the one has already ruptured and he showed us on the recent MRI films and said this is your disc ... he said this white stuff here is your nerve roots or nerves I forget which he said. Then he said see this side of your disc where it's not ruptured, he said see how you can see the white or the nerve root? We said yeah .... then he said this part here is your disc that ruptured and he said ... see how you can't see any of your nerve root here where it's ruptured? We said yes and he then said that it is pinching against the nerve root. He said that is why we don't see any white (or nerve root) there because your disc ruptured and is pinching that nerve root.

The wierd thing is ... I had one person refer me to this guy. She works in a rehab hospital and so she told me that he was awesome, so that's why I went there. Then the other day I talked to an old friend and he had lower back surgery. He didn't go to the guy I am seeing .... but he said .... oh yes, when I was doing my water therapy after my surgery he said there was a lady there that had gone to him (the guy I am going to) and he said that she said he was really good. Then he said ... if I would have known about him then ....he said I would have went to him foy my surgery.

So that is why I am not sure what to do cause I have been hearing good things about him. He did tell me when we were there ... and after he said about the surgery .... he said you are free to get a 2nd opinion if you'd like. Then he said after that if you decide you want me to do the surgery, he said we can call back and set it up. I did tell him however that ... ever since my first battle with this stuff back in 2002 ... I said I have tried walking etc. but everytime I try to walk for a period of time or do the treadmill I would get a flare-up in my back. Then that would last for about 2 weeks. Ughhh, I dunno, it is a real tough decision to make!! I have DDD also down in my lumbar area. This last MRI showed changes in that from 2 years ago and it also said at my L5-S1 that I have decreased height of the intervertebral disc.

That is why I am definitely curious to see how tne212 does after another 2 weeks of PT. Definitely let us know tne212!!

I might go back to the drawing board and try to find another Neurosurgeon to go see. I am glad that you are doing better Jessie after your surgery! And you too Al

 
Old 01-16-2005, 08:53 AM   #7
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tne212 HB User
Re: update / ruptured disc

hmm...tifferzz, it sounds like we have pretty much identical symptoms and conditions! i have not had a pain free day for about 6-7 weeks, sitting is *awful* (i slather on biofreeze before class and then sit as long as i can take it - yup, mostly leaning forward and putting weight on my knees and legs instead of my butt - before standing or kneeling on the ground - i usually spend most of the class kneeling), and although walking hurts at first, when i keep doing it, it seems to help (in the morning i'm hobbling to the bathroom, but then i have to walk to get out of the house and go to school, or walk between classes at school, and i've found that by the time i come home, i'm walking upright).

maybe the difference in our doctor's approaches are is that i have been seeing a physiatrist - i believe they are doctors trained in the non-surgical management of injuries, including spinal problems - instead of a surgeon. my physical therapist told me that the doctor is always asking about my bladder control and any significant loss of feeling in my foot b/c that's when he will refer me to a surgeon. otherwise, it seems we're going to try everything else before turning to surgery.

PT has been *very* helpful. especially at the beginning, i really looked forward to going there, b/c it provided a few hours of relief. also, remember that you're the boss in this situation: at the start i was given some type of muscle relaxant that didn't work at all, and i was able to get a different kind. see if you can try the steroid pack - that was 6 days of pretty good relief for me.

you should know that i've suffered minor sciatica for about 2 years as well before the pain shot up on the scale to super-intense (must have been when the L5-S1 ruptured). but, i'm no doctor...your surgeon might be right about the disc bulging problem. do like i'm going to do - get a second opinion!

 
Old 01-16-2005, 08:57 AM   #8
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tne212 HB User
Re: update / ruptured disc

one more thing tifferzz - give ICE a try! only for 15, 20 minutes at a time, but i think it helps bring inflammation down - and my PT told me that it's the disc is hitting my nerves in the spinal column and causing my sciatic nerve to be inflammed - and that's the pain i feel. so ICE is good sometimes. i do ICE in the morning, whenever it's hurting really bad, and after i do my PT moves. i do heat after coming inside from the cold and before i do my PT moves.

 
Old 01-16-2005, 02:04 PM   #9
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Tifferzz HB User
Re: update / ruptured disc

Yeap tne212, it definitely sounds like we have the same thing and for the same amount of time (this time) and then my first battle of this stuff started back in 2002! What is "biofreeze"? Yeap and you sound exactly like me before standing on kneeling!

I have never seen the kind of doctor that you are seeing. I will definitely look into that. Thanks! Yes, I was given muscle relaxers too and they do absolutely nothing for me. I did get the steriods, I took 6 the first day then 5 the next and 4 the next etc. till they were gone. They did seem to help but now I have been back where I was before taking them. Might have to see about getting more maybe? I know you're not supposed to take a lot of steriods so I am not sure how often I could take them like that.

So what kinds of things do they have to do in PT? Exercise wise? Is there anything that is not good for you to be doing when you have this back problem? I am definitely going to try the ice. Do you use regular ice or do you buy the ice packs/pads at the store? Thanks for you comments and suggestions. I hope that you continue to post here so that I can see how you are doing and making out!! Thanks again

 
Old 01-16-2005, 03:33 PM   #10
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Re: update / ruptured disc

A physiatrist is a pain management doctor. They try the approach they feel is best to help reduce your pain and get better. Just because a doctor is a surgeon, does not mean he will want to perform surgery all the time. A reputable neurological surgeon or orthopedic surgeon that is a spine specialist should always try conservative measures first. Surgery is usually the last option. Tifferzz, it sounds like you have tried alot of other things so I don't think your surgeon is being too aggressive at this point although you should never be afraid to get a second opinion. I wish you both the best of luck and I hope you get better soon.

Alan

 
Old 01-17-2005, 01:08 PM   #11
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Tifferzz HB User
Re: update / ruptured disc

Thank you Al I called today to schedule my surgery, (L5-S1 Hemilaminectomy Microdiscectomy) the girl that does it all was out sick today so they are going to have her call me tomorrow to set everything up. I think I am going to stick with this Neurosurgeon.

My hubby went to get his hair cut the other day .... and even the one girl that was working there said that she heard of my Neurosurgeon and she said he was good and she told hubby to tell me to stick with him. I had such BAD, BAD leg pain last night. It was the WORST ever!! I didn't get much sleep. I couldn't even lay on my side (either side for that matter). I usually can lay on my side with some relief but not now! I was waking up every hour then I would be awake for awhile. I finally got up at 5:00 AM and started some more steriod pills that I had gotten awhile back and never used. They haven't kicked in yet LOL. I then called my Neurosurgeon and the asst. called me back and up'ed my pain pills to 2 ever 4 hours instead of 1 every four hours. He said to continue the steriods till they are gone. Then he said to use moist heat on my back for 20 minutes. I tried the ice at 5:00 AM but it didn't do anything for me.

Also, my family doctor wanted me to get the Epidural Steriod Shot? I didn't want to cause I was scared .... but I told the Neuro. Asst. today that I think I am going to do it now because this leg pain now is so bad. He said I could and he said it might hold me off on pain till surgery. He knows I can't have the surgery until March (when hubby isn't busy at work and can take the time off with me to help). The asst. told me to make sure I go to a place that uses an x-ray when they do the shot. So, now I will finish off these oral steriods then call my family doctor back to get a referral for the Epidural Shot. Wow, when your back gets bad.... it gets bad doesn't it? Ugghhh

Hope you are doing well today tne212 and Al Have any of you two gotten the Epidural Shot? If so, did it help you? Is it painful? Thanks for your suggestions! If anyone else out there had the shot before feel free to post your comments about it too.

 
Old 01-17-2005, 01:55 PM   #12
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Re: update / ruptured disc

I have had 2 ESIs. Mine were both without an xray ( I think they use a flouroscope ) and without any other meds. They were not all that bad but if you are concerned about the pain, you should try to find someone that will give you some xanax or versed proir to the shot. You do need to be still and it takes a couple of minutes. The first one, I got some decent relief from, the second was not effective. I think it is very important to trust your doctor and part of that is hearing good things about them. That is how I found my surgeon. You will hear some about less invasive types of discectomies on this board and on some websites. I believe the most important factor in what type of surgery the doc performs is what he is most comfortable with. I ended up with about a 3 1/2 inch scar on my beltline that is nothing. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Alan

 
Old 01-18-2005, 01:51 PM   #13
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tne212 HB User
Re: update / ruptured disc

tifferzz, i have not had the epidurol injections. the doctor gave me the option, but suggested i wait a few more weeks, so i am. however, it sounds like i'm having less pain than you are right now. but i remember how painful it was just a few weeks back, and i wish i was given the option then! let us know how it goes! hope you are feeling better today!

also, i'm not sure how different the actual feeling during the procedure is, but i have had an epidurol for other reasons (not child delivery, but for an operation on my ankle) and it was somewhat painful, but given the trade off of a few moments or minutes of discomfort for relief from the shooting pain in the butt and leg that you are feeling, i would think it's negligable...

Last edited by tne212; 01-18-2005 at 01:54 PM. Reason: added my previous experience with epidurol

 
Old 01-18-2005, 03:47 PM   #14
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toyqt HB User
Re: update / ruptured disc

Hi there...I haven't posted in quite a long time, but your post caught my eye, and I wanted to add my 2 cents also!

Please listen to the others who said it too, and be sure to get a 2nd or even third opinion!! My neurosurgeon exhausted EVERY option before he suggested surgery (about 11 months before we made the decision) so I would be very wary of a doc who said PT wouldn't help. Even after surgery, exercise and PT are important and helpful to the healing process, and my doc explained to me that the better shape you are in prior to any operation, the better the outcome. Especially with back surgeries...he said that you need to get the back muscles as strong as you are able to before going in.

By the way, I am 15 months post op L5S1 PLIF with rods, screws, spacer

Good luck to you whatever you decide!

Toyqt

 
Old 01-18-2005, 11:07 PM   #15
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Re: update / ruptured disc

PT has helped me in the past, but right now I'm in PT again, besides the disc up by my shoulder blades, my old disc that affects my hip, leg & thigh, has acted up. The thing with PT for me, it seems when I do exercises for one area, it bothers the other area.

I have had set backs in PT & get very discouraged, although my old herniated disc (5 years ago) was fine for 5 years & only now acting up due to muscle spasms from the shoulder part & the exercises I think.

The set backs get me really down & it's hard to keep doing the PT when you improve & then feal like you are back at square one!! That's where I'm at right now. I was doing great, almost no pain & then had to drive to do some errands last Thurs. after that the shoulder & arm pain came rumbling back & have yet to work that out!! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

I'm sure many of you have been thru this, but had to vent!!!!

 
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