This is my first time using this board ~ I'm writing because I'm afraid.
I had an MRI a couple weeks ago that said I have 2 ruptured discs (L4 and L5) and 2 bulging discs (L3 and S1). One of the ruptured disc has extruded material that's just hanging around my back at this time.
I know when I injured my back ~ it was October 2007. My health insurance wouldn't pay for the MRI the doctor ordered, so I didn't have one. Instead I went to PT, took yoga, went to the gym, took anti-inflammatories, and tried tried acupuncture with little success.
For the past year I have had burning, radiating pain down my left leg. And I finally had enough so I went to the doctor and new insurance company let me have an MRI.
I'm going to the doctor on Wednesday and expect he's going to tell me (becaucse of the extruded material) that I need surgery.
I am scared because I don't know what to expect. Pain ~ pfft that doesn't scare me; I've been living with it for the past year-plus. I have a great job and can't afford to take much time off work to recuperate. I have a desk job that doesn't involve lifting or bending.
How long, realistically, would I have to be out of work? What happens to that one disc that now lacking some of its fluid. What can I do to be sure this doesn't happen again.
It really depends on what type surgery your doc decides to do. There is a recovery time for all back surgery's. It also depends on your doc. All docs do things differently. I can tell you what my recoop time is and I am sure others will also tell you their recovery time.
My surgery was a ALIF <anterior lumbar interbody fusion> I was cut on my lower abdomen. I had 2 disc fused....L4-5 and L5-S1.
My recovery, and I am a lil over 6 weeks post-op now. I could not bend,lift or twist and still cannot. Sitting was limited to 20 mins max at a time. <sitting is 1 of the worst things for back probs such as this> Could not drive for 6 weeks and wore a brace for 6 weeks. Walking is a must. You need to walk as much as you can to help the recover process. And rest and rest and rest some more ha.....I am thinking I covered all my restrictions....I may have missed something <I am tired as I type this ha> back surgery of most all kinds....is no walk in the park. For some it is easier than for others. I feel Ive been fortunate on my recovery. All people heal at different paces. I will be happy when I can once again clean my home and do other things I still cannot do. But....time is what it takes!
You asked what you could do to avoid this happening again? A lot of disc problems happen from injury. Some disc just get worn out.....they loose the filling they once had. Or should I say, after repeated injury to the disc, they get worn out. So.....avoid injury and stressing your back beyond a limit maybe? I am sure others will have other answers
Good luck to you and come back to the forum if you need to ask more questions....many people will help if they can.
Like lynn said...its really to general of a question to answer....Ive seen some with a small simple back surgery be down for several weeks and others with a bigger back surgery get back at it quickly....I think your state of mind and finding the best surgeon possible is the only way to get a favorable outcome....your doctor will tell you what to expect and that will be the general rule for him....you may do better you may do worse....hard to say....I will tell you this...With the type of work you do you stand a good chance of getting back to work fairly quick.
This past summer I had two herniated discs at L3-L4, L4-L5 with disc extrusion and bulging at the S1 areas. I had off and on had what I thought was just a lower back sprain over the years due to lifting and moving associated with my line of work. I was in between jobs this past summer and did a lot of work in the house and yard that required repetitive motions of bending and twisting, stooping (a no-no from here on out!). Well, I ended up on the floor for three weeks and couldn't stand up straight for three weeks either. This pain resolved with antiinflammatories, rest, and heat over about a six week period. However, my symptoms changed to weakness in both legs with inability to walk for longer than 5 minutes at a time without pain out to my hips and increased weakness, bladder incontinence (oh joy!). I had a laminectomy on November 12 with a bone onlay fusion for spondylolithesis (slippage) of L4 on L5. I am approaching 12 weeks out from surgery and still in a brace for another week. Will start PT at 4 months. I am driving now without any difficulty and have been since 6 weeks out. I walk at the track now 1 1/2 miles with good speed and no bladder issues (Yeah!)
I know, way more info than you needed but as the others said recovery will depend on individual issues. My NS told me on the initial MRI and exam that I could try the conservative measures but with my symptoms and the disc extrusion that I was essentially wasting my time. He compared it to having a pebble in your shoe and no matter what you do if it's still there, you're still going to feel it and have the effects from it. This is from a NS guy who is very conservative in his treatment as I have been to him before for neck issues.
I will say that on my second MRI prior to the surgery that the disc extrusion and herniated disc had decreased in size. If my symptoms had not progressed to issues of weakness and bladder problems, I in all likelihood would have chosen to wait it out and see if it improved further.
Sitting for longer than about 30 minutes is doable for me right now although not real comfortable. Muscle fatigue across the back is still a major issue and I find myself on the sofa around 2 pm with a heat pack for 30 minutes and then I'm back up and mobile. I guess the time off from work will depend on the approach, what you have done, and how comfortable you are with sitting for prolonged periods of time. I think if I had a job where I could get up and move around every 30 minutes or so that I would be OK right now but then again, I am almost three months out. I think I could have been back at an office position at best around 8 weeks.
Hope you can get by with further conservative care. If you require surgery, maybe the recovery from the minimally invasive type of surgery is quicker as what I had was the traditional laminectomy approach with posterior approach, 3 inch incision. I know this is long but when I was trying to make up my mind I wanted all the info I could get. Take care.....Jan.