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Old 11-06-2008, 10:21 AM   #1
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Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

I posted a thread awhile back asking if anyone had thoughts regarding artificial disc replacement, fusion, or a hybrid (one of each) surgery for issues related to my multiple bad discs, but have received no replies.

Has anyone with degenerative disc disease EVER had a successful surgical fix? It seems that there are numerous failed procedures, but none that sound like they've been a success! At one time I was convinced that I needed to wait for my bi-level ADR surgery to be approved by the FDA, and that was it. Well, the FDA has still not approved the surgery, and my daily pain seems to get worse and worse no matter how many pain pills and muscle relaxants I take!

What's even worse is I am now starting to doubt if I'll be better or worse off if I don't even let the doc perform any surgery! I know I'm rambling on here, but my sciatica is really bad today. Of course, it has actually been really bad for over a week now! I am so confused and depressed (yeah, and I'm on those anti-depressant pills too!). Any replies would be greatly appreciated.

I try to make myself feel a little better by sharing information about all the tests and procedures I've gone through with others on these boards, but I guess now I really need to hear someone else's opinion .........

 
Old 11-06-2008, 12:02 PM   #2
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

Keep in mind the people who have gotten better have moved on and dont stick around here seeking help anymore.....a few do but for the most part it appears they get on with life....The ones still around are helping or seeking help from failed surgeries...or even a newbie such as myself...but Ive been to several forums and this is usually the case. Im having the 360 two level lumabar surgery on Dec 1st and it has a great success rate....as do many of the other proceedures.....someone will chime in and help you out.

Your other post that didnt get any help may have not had anyone who could shed light on it for you.

Either way good luck !

Devon

 
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Old 11-07-2008, 12:39 AM   #3
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

Truly ? I thought mine was a success story....until recently.I had spinal fusion in 1996....but I kept having leg weakness.I reinjured my back in 2001 and haven't been the same ever since.I'm in constant pain and can not work.What could be worse is that my childhood asthma came back,and for some strange reason my lately left foot goes numb.I have no idea who to contact,and have no idea what to do.I know I was " screwed " to begin with,but now I can't even even get disability or medical help.If you have any advice I could sure appreciate it,because the pain is slowly driving me insane.Should I hire a lawyer ?

 
Old 11-07-2008, 09:16 AM   #4
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

Hi! I am sorry you didn't get an answer before. I saw the question and wasn't sure how to reply. Now I thinkI can.
I had two level 360 fusion in July of 2006. I had "spacers", packed full of BMP and the ground up bone spurs they took off my spine, that went where my old discs had eroded to the point that I was bone on bone back there with severe sciatica.
I fused beautifully and have resolved the sciatica pain. That part of the surgery was VERY successful. My problem was scar tissue forming around the nerve root 18 months after. I still have to take Lyrica for nerve pain. I am seeing a pain managment doctor for chronic pain.
It sounds bad but actually I feel blessed. Before the surgery I couldn't do ANYTHING and took ALOT of pain medication. Now I still take regular pain releif but I know where I stand healthwise.
I garden, walk, work full time, clean. laundry, cook, shop, hang with my 3 teenage daughters...just live a normal life. I slow down sometimes if I overdo it. Now and then I use my TENS unit or ice packs if its been a long day. I am 150% better than I was before surgery. I would do it again in a minute!
Hope it helps-we are always here for you!
Blessings,
Momz

 
Old 11-07-2008, 08:31 PM   #5
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

I like momz had my surgery Feb 2008...1 level (L3-L4) posterior lumbar fusion..with rods and screws...I'm also much better..I can walk now cold barely stand prior to surgery...Now I walk 2 miles a day, go to gym 3 days a week...statinary bike 20 minutes 3 times a week...

Not symptom free...have other areas of nerve pain in groin and numbness in toes on the bad leg (where I had AWFUL sciatica prior to surgery....I too would do it again...these areas are more discomfort...I'm really rid of that awful nausea producing pain where you could scream...

Hang in there..we're all here for you.

LAF ...Laurinda

Last edited by Administrator; 03-17-2014 at 05:44 PM.

 
Old 11-07-2008, 11:11 PM   #6
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

Nearly everyone on here has had surgery which is fairly recent. I had my surgery many years ago. In the short term surgery can be successful but in the long term that is another matter.

The average time for symptoms to reappear after fusion surgery is six years. It took me a year to get over my surgery and then I had considerable relief for 5 years. The years after that have been bad to say the least. My surgery is 27 years old. I can tell you that daily sciatica has been a part of my life for over 20 years post surgery.

The levels adjacent to my fusion have herniated and I am have been on anticonvulsives for pain for years. Surgery can be helpful but remember that your back is forever changed. I had 16 years of bedridden attacks before I had surgery when at that time I was not able to walk most of the time.

No matter how progressive the surgery is it is still very drastic. Unless you have progressive symptoms (getting worse instead of better) with neurological deficits (drop foot ect) I would not consider it.

To give an example I had severe pain from nerve encroachment in my neck. It affected both my arms and hands. I had to wear a collar and had difficuty on a daily basis. It took two years but the pain did eventually subside. I still have severe degenerative changes in my neck actually worse than at the time of my severe pain but I can function much better now. Unless I had spinal chord involvement I would not consider surgery.

By the way there is no spinal chord in the lower lumbar spine and that is why neck involvement can have dire consequences. I do hope that you have success but as long as you realize that there is never a perfect fix for back problems.
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Old 11-09-2008, 02:43 AM   #7
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

Wow, scar tissue forming around the nerve root.That sounds painful at work.You sound like a real trooper though.How do you sleep ? I usually don't sleep until I pass out.

Last edited by Administrator; 03-17-2014 at 05:44 PM.

 
Old 11-09-2008, 10:51 PM   #8
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

Hi, I didn't have back fusion but had a laminectomy -that I consider to be succesful and am glad I had done. I'm 5&1/2 months out from mine and can stand and walk without pain now, where I couldn't before. I'm not 'perfect' and my lower back is not perfect, but it's TONS better than it was and I can do much more now than I was able to prior to surgery. I still can't do everything I could do before my pain and problems began, but I'm getting there bit by bit. I do still take pain meds, but it's mostly OTC ones now, not Rx, and I don't need them all-day everyday anymore. I do have setbacks or problems where I need them more often or need my Rx meds, but I get past those setbacks (or have so far). I rarely felt pain actually in my lower back before surgery -always felt it down both legs (excruciating pain down both legs) and do now have low back pain -NOT excruciating, though. That is one definite negative, but it's one I'm happy to live with b/c of what I've gained. I've gained more than I've 'lost' with my lumbar surgery. Like I said, I consider my surgery to have been successful and am glad I had it. I'm muuuch better off than I was before I had it. I miss the 'me' before I ever had ANY problems, but post-op 'me' is 2nd to 'original me' and trumps the 'rotten me' pre-op.
Good luck with whatever you choose to do and I hope it works out for you.
-Meghan

Last edited by Wymom94; 11-09-2008 at 10:53 PM.

 
Old 11-10-2008, 08:32 AM   #9
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

First I would like to thank everyone so much for all the responses. I am just so very confused about this situation. I'm not sure if it is the cold and or wet weather lately, but my back pain and sciatic pain have been almost unbearable. I feel like I have lost over three years of my life, and don't see I fix to end my back issues. I somehow tough it out enough to keep my job, mostly as it's my obligation to my wife and kids. The pain meds and muscle-relaxants seem to hardly work anymore. I'm able to survive the day, get home, and go straight to bed. I'm sick of it.

As I look at how miserable the daily pain is affecting my life, I do what most anyone would do - look to the "experts", the surgeons and doctors for possible solutions. None of them sound good. If I opt for the fusion, even if successful it will likely cost me the job I've worked at for 18+ years. The 5 surgeons I've seen can only agree on one thing - fusion will be my first step on a path of future surgeries as my other lousy discs go out. Not only is artificial disc replacement (2 of them) not approved by the FDA and therefore not covered by my insurance, it also sounds like the procedure and various materials used are also quite new and make me fearful.

Could it possilby be the best choice to continue taking all these meds to eak out some sort of existence, rather than taking any surgical route?

Last edited by bigblue92; 11-10-2008 at 08:35 AM. Reason: spelling and grammar

 
Old 11-10-2008, 10:09 AM   #10
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

bigblue, One thing to consider is finding out the degree of damage you have and whether or not waiting for surgery or a less-invasive procedure would risk that damage becoming permanent (and a solid estimate on how long is too long if waiting would put you at risk of permanent nerve damage). I don't think surgery is always the answer, but sometimes if it IS the answer, it's best not to wait too long. I would advise you to get all the details you need, and additional opinions, to help you make the best, most informed decision you can. Once again, good luck.
Meghan

 
Old 11-10-2008, 01:27 PM   #11
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

Big Blue I am one of the ones that experienced the domino effect on disc's adjacent to my fusion. It happens a lot as time goes by. A fusion is a far cry from a simple laminectomy. Sometimes the truth is there is no simple cure and pain management is the best that we can hope for. That isn't being pessimistic it is just being realistic. On the other hand I try to look at it this way there are lots out there that have bigger health problems ones that can take their life. Pain stinks so good pain management is an absolute must!

If your pain is mostly confined to your legs please give one of the anticonvulsives a try. When the proper dosage is reached they can have really beneficial results.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:24 PM   #12
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

Big Blue, I had surgery in March. I didn't want a fusion so I opted only for a lamenectomy and discectomy. I am so glad I did it. I couldn't stand another day of the pain down my legs. I still have significant arthritis but I can tolerate it. I couldn't tolerate the the sciatica

 
Old 11-11-2008, 07:11 AM   #13
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

I'd like to thank you all once again. It is very helpful to get information from people who truly understand! Meghan - According to my surgeon, since my sciatica and the other "weird" symptoms of nerve impingement (tingling feet, shooting right leg pain, etc) comes and goes his opinion is that I am not currently risking permanent nerve damage yet. Of course, based upon my symptoms over the past 2 wks or so maybe it is time for me to make another appt with him.
Pooby - I certainly agree that there are many (many on this site alone!) who have it far worse than I do. Interestingly enough, what you indicated is exactly what my PC physician told me 3 yrs+ ago: That I must prepare myself for the possibility that the only solution is going to be pain management for life. I guess I didn't want to believe him.
Mel52 - I am sooo happy for you that the surgeries you opted for appear to have helped you so far . I had a micro-disctectomy about 2 and a half yrs ago to correct the bulging left L4/L5 which was supposedly causing my pain. Unfortunately, the minor surgery was of no help. That same disc is now protruding to the right and has an annular tear.
Thank you all once again ...

 
Old 11-11-2008, 10:30 PM   #14
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

Hi there Mr. Big blue,
I felt compelled to stop and join this site in order to respond to your question. I'm not sure I can answer your question, but totally understand your pain. I had my first disc removed 17 years ago six months prior to getting pregnant with my first child. I was home alone and bent over to pick up my cat when I ruptured my disc, it took me 20 mins to crawl in the house and call 911! The er doctor gave me a shot of demerol and sent me home with a referal to see an orthopedic surgeon. 2 days later I woke up and could not get out of bed my friend had to help me to the car and took me to the Dr where they immediately admitted me to the hospital. I had my disc removed from L-4 L5? I had a great Dr. I actually got up and walked to the bathroom by myself the day I had my surgery! My Dr was impressed!(I only did it because I was afraid if I didn't get up and walk then I might not ever get up!)lol it was the best thing I ever did having that surgery. I didn't have any real problems, just the occasional stiff back and such, but 7 years later after giving birth to my fourth daughter I reinjured my back at work. I had a bulging disc but wasn't able to have surgery, I have back pain every day I have numbness down my left leg within five minutes of being on my feet. My back starts screaming if I walk more than five minutes. My left leg now goes numb while driving. I have been on hydrocodone for three yrs now, started out @ 5 mg now up to 10 mg 3x a day several different muscle relaxers and for the last 2 months am unable to walk without the use of a walker. I now have 2 bulging discs, but I have only state aid healthcare and they don't want to pay for any type of surgery unless God himself says so! I also have this strange vibrating in the bottom of my left foot.(the first time I noticed it I thought my cell phone was getting ready to ring!it was on the bed next to me!) I have just resigned myself to the fact that all this is just part of who I am now and try to get thru each day finding some humor and laughter and go on about my life as best I can. I just wanted you to know I understand your pain and frustration. I hope you get the answers and help you need. God bless you and yours.

 
Old 11-20-2008, 08:48 PM   #15
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Re: Are there ANY successful surgeries for those with Degenerative Disc Disease???

Hi! I'm having the Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) on Dec. 2nd. It's at L5 S1. I also have curvature as well as lots of leg pain. I'm looking forward to my surgery and when I have it done, I will come back here and give a report. I have terrible DDD and it has only gotten worse. I also have drop foot. My disc is like mush!

It is worth the risk and better than being in pain 24/7.

 
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