Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Monterey, CA USA
Re: L5/S1 Microdisectomy ?? has anyone had success????
I can feel your pain....literally and figuratively. I badly herniated L5-S1 ~18 months ago, and went through MUCH soul-searching regarding submitting myself to surgery. As a military member, the immidate reaction of my doc was to have surgery. I objected, as there had been no effort to run the process of concervative treatment. I "won out", and got to go through PT, traction, injections, etc. When it became apparent that this was not going to be effective, I resigned myself to having the "minimally invasive" version of the Micro-D (July 07). I had to fly from Japan to DC in order to have the procedure, but at the time it seemed worth the hassle (good response rate, quicker recovery time, etc).
Indeed, the procedure appeared to go well at first, as I was quickly back in the flow of things. The doc had warned that there was ALOT of scar tissue around the injury, indicating that this was NOT a recent injury, but was happy with the results. The first 5-6 months I continued to improve, and was pretty happy about the results (though quite neurotic about the potential for recurrance/deterioration). By Jan-Feb of this year, I began noticing fairly obvious residual symptoms, but was told that this was a normal portion of the recovery process (ie surgery is NOT a "silver bullet", and I would have better days/worse days). I took this at face value, and continued to carry on as normal.
By May, my family and I had moved back to the States, and I was begining to suffer fairly persistent symptoms. I was principally worried about the potential onset of epidural fibrosis, as this is MUCH more troubling than a re-herniation. After going through PT, Accupuncture and Chiro (big mistake) on my own, I finally convinced them to do another MRI. Lo and behold, not only had I reherniated at the same level, but this time it was in the OTHER direction (a double whammy). So, not only is it apparent that I have a significant fibrosis issue on the left (initial side), but this now indicates the disc itself is bad (ie little chance they'll do another minimally invasive procedure). The Neurosurgeon here is concerned about the bilateral symtpoms, and warned that I'll likely be seeing him for a fusion at some point down the road (but that I should RUN and avoid him as long as possible). Unfortunately, the past 4 months (ish), I've become progressively more painful, and can no longer even do the PT regimine I was recommended post surgery. It's a catch 22 -- need to work out to build core strength/keep off the weight, but exercise exacerbates my symptoms. As someone who has always been physically active, this is the biggest rub on the whole experience (which has left me a changed person).
So, in a nutshell, what is my conclusion. Well, I'd have to go with the old standby that each person is different, and there are simply too many variables to make a direct comparision between one person and another. In my case, I personally would have preferred to give things long to heal (initially), as my pain/situation is significantly worse than the initial problem. That said, while rehabbbing in DC, my cousin began having BAD back pain and was diagnosed with a herniated disc as well (talk about timing). He decided to have the micro-D within DAYS, and has recovered phenomially (is playing golf again, etc). I, on the other hand, have not been so lucky (I'm 36, he's nearly 70). Then again, I often joke that if there are odds to be busted, I'll be the one to to it....and in this case I've managed every step of the way to fall into the "negative" category.
My advice to you is read up as much as you can about the procedure, understand what it can/cannot do, and make a determination based on your own pain level. I was told that pain is the most common rationale people use for undertaking this type of procedure, but the only medically warranted justification is for loss of bladder/bowel control OR loss of motor function (which I had). If you have an specific questions/concerns, please feel free to shoot me a PM and I'll get back in touch as quickly as I can. I'm new to this site, so excuse me if my reply may be delayed...