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Old 11-25-2012, 12:37 PM   #1
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Upcoming Micro-laminectomy

Hello all:

This is my story – I work in a professional position and for years I traveled by planes, trains, and automobiles – sitting most days. In late 2007 my world changed, as did many other Americans. After a year of not finding work, I dusted off my massage license and began working as a massage therapist in a local resort.

I ended up with lateral and medial tendonitis in both elbows, began to have upper extremity pain, which in my mind was all connect. The numbing of my hands and the intense pain began to derail my career. I started getting excruciating low back pain as well. In April 2011, my doctor put me on medical leave and I started PT for the neck and upper extremities. This was the first time I was diagnosed with nerve damage. And, I was eventually told that I could not return to massage.

In early 2012, I took a drive to eastern Oregon, and found that my left leg and hip started hurting. I hadn’t injured it, as far as I recall, but the pain kept worsening. I went back to my doctor who put me on muscle relaxers and pain meds. But the pain in my leg got increasingly worse. I ended up going to the ER in July, and an X-ray showed no issues with the spine, so I was again, put on muscle relaxers and pain meds. I decided that I should get a massage, that was the first time I realized that I couldn’t lay on my stomach, and that my lateral left thigh was numb. I followed the massage by a visit to my chiropractor. When he put his hand on my lumbar spine the pressure caused intense pain, so he carefully touched each vertebra, and while my back had not hurt, each touch sent me into incredible nerve pain.

In April I quit walking, the pain in my left hip and leg was too great. In August I quit driving more than 15 – 20 minutes from home for fear that I would not be able to make it back, as often I couldn’t. I was no longer able to do the heavy cleaning in my home, and found that no matter how I tried, I could not sleep more than an hour or so, could not sit in a chair for more than 10 or 15 minutes, could not stand or walk for more than about 30 minutes. I began to revolve through my house, sitting, walking, standing, laying, but never getting comfortable.

In September I changed doctors, and on the first visit she tried to lift my left leg – the pain was shot through me like a lightning bolt, all the way through my hip to my back. After this visit, my doctor sent me for a CT scan; it showed that I had three herniated discs in the Lumbar spine, so she referred me to the Spine Center for evaluation. A few days later I ended back up at ER, I can only say that the pain felt like someone was ripping my leg off at the hip and back. By then my lower leg and foot was also numb and my foot was occasionally dropping. An MRI was ordered on my Lumbar spine, which resulted in a robust diagnosis: degenerative disc disease, 3 herniated discs, and spinal stenosis.

I was referred to a neurosurgeon, who then advised me that I needed to have a Micro-Laminectomy. He said that the herniated discs would heal in time, but the stenosis was a genuine issue that would require surgery. That was early October 2012. In late October, we scheduled the surgery for November 29 – this coming Thursday.

About 3 weeks ago the pain finally subsided; I haven’t been on any medication since then. My left foot is numb, and from time to time my right hip with get a sharp pain and my right toes get the feeling that someone is wrapping them in rubber bands (prior to this all the pain was in the left side). I am still quite limited in the activities I can do, but I can sit in my recliner for up to about an hour, then I have to stand and stretch. I sleep all night in my bed without issues. I don’t take walks, swim, or even go shopping for any more than just the basics needed for fear the pain will come back.

Of course, now that surgery approaches, I wonder if it is worth the risk since I seem to feel better than I was. The sinking feeling comes when I realize there are no predictable outcomes with this surgery, but there are risks.

All that said; has anyone else had this kind of reduced pain before surgery?

I continually ask myself if I am too early in the stages of spine issues to have a surgery that may not help, but may later lead to more issues?

Any advice, encouragement, suggestions are welcomed.

Feeling a bit like I am damned if I do, and damned if I don’t!

 
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:46 PM   #2
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Re: Upcoming Micro-laminectomy

The exact thing happened to me about 1 month before my scheduled microdiscectomy/laminectomy. All of a sudden for seemingly no reason I had no pain for about a week and I felt great! I went through the same thing, wondering if I should just cancel the surgery seeing as how there were risks involved and I felt soooo much better. My friends and family told me to wait and talk to my doctor about it, but I didn't even get that far. Just as fast as the pain went away, it came back with the same intensity - again seemingly for no reason. I realized then that the only solution in my situation was to go through the surgery. I would have been so mad if I had cancelled only to find the pain returning.

My suggestion would be to wait and see how long it lasts, and talk to your doctor. If there is something mechanically wrong that they can address through surgery, then at some point it will bother you until it is resolved. I had my surgery 10 days ago and although the sciatic pain is completely gone, I am dealing with other pain (hopefully) associated with the healing process.

Good luck!

 
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:47 PM   #3
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Re: Upcoming Micro-laminectomy

The exact thing happened to me about 1 month before my scheduled microdiscectomy/laminectomy. All of a sudden for seemingly no reason I had no pain for about a week and I felt great! I went through the same thing, wondering if I should just cancel the surgery seeing as how there were risks involved and I felt soooo much better. My friends and family told me to wait and talk to my doctor about it, but I didn't even get that far. Just as fast as the pain went away, it came back with the same intensity - again seemingly for no reason. I realized then that the only solution in my situation was to go through the surgery. I would have been so mad if I had cancelled only to find the pain returning.

My suggestion would be to wait and see how long it lasts, and talk to your doctor. If there is something mechanically wrong that they can address through surgery, then at some point it will bother you until it is resolved. I had my surgery 10 days ago and although the sciatic pain is completely gone, I am dealing with other pain (hopefully) associated with the healing process.

Good luck!

Last edited by AK21; 11-25-2012 at 12:48 PM. Reason: I have no idea why this posted twice...... sorry :(

 
Old 11-25-2012, 05:18 PM   #4
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Re: Upcoming Micro-laminectomy

I'm just curious if you still have numbness and tingling in your hands or did that stop once you gave up the massage practice?

Obviously you still have the nerve compression as your foot is still numb. Unless you want to put up with permanent nerve damage, you may want to have the surgery. It is hard to say without seeing the MRI report to know how badly compressed the nerve is. I gather the foot drop is no longer a problem or you wouldn't be considering cancelling the surgery....

It is always a good idea to get more than one opinion when considering surgery...

 
Old 11-25-2012, 07:46 PM   #5
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Re: Upcoming Micro-laminectomy

hi, so sorry you are going thru this. I am a member of another back pain board and one of the most important things everyone talks about is getting 2nd and even 3rd opinions. I know you're surgery is soon but there's no turning back once you have this surgery.

also, after surgery it is VERY important no matter how good you feel to listen to what the dr tells you to do or not to do. Because you can definitely mess up what he/her has done very easily. No bending/lifting/twisting, etc. I am not sure about this surgery but are you to wear a brace afterwards? just wondering. I had two non-evasive techniques done several years ago and w/ both had to wear hard tortise shell like braces to help prevent me from twisting and stuff and it really helped. But you don't want to wear it longer then prescribed because it can weaken your core muscles.

good luck and let us know how things go. Cathy

 
Old 11-28-2012, 08:25 AM   #6
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Re: Upcoming Micro-laminectomy

Thanks for the advice. I called the doctor on Monday and explained that the pain had been gone for 3 weeks. The medical assistant scheduled me in to see the Doctor yesterday. He checked my reflexes, strength, and range of motion. He concluded that the herniated discs must be healing, and that the spine has been decompressed - thanks to Mother Nature. He cancelled the surgery, saying that the purpose of the surgery was to decompress the spine, and with the improvement that I am having it would not serve any purpose at this time. He advised me that the discs could re-herniate, or that I could have more injury, as I from here forward I should be aware that I have a "bad" back. He has referred me for physical therapy, which will start next month. In the meanwhile he advised that I continue what I have been doing.

My foot is still numb, and he explained that there is no assurance that the feeling will return, or that it will not return. He said either way, the surgery would have likely produced the same result. In other words, the surgery would have not affected the outcome, if the nerve is damaged, it is damaged. But, he also said not to give up on it just yet, it may still have improvement.

I am so grateful for the encouragement to check back with the doctor.

 
Old 11-28-2012, 09:08 AM   #7
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Re: Upcoming Micro-laminectomy

I am so pleased for you...that you called the doctor and that he had the good sense to cancel the surgery!!

Try to be extra careful with the holidays coming -- we all tend to overdo at this time of year -- too much carrying of too heavy things, too much bending, cleaning, pushing vacuums, etc. The thing that still bothers me a lot is changing bed sheets. Regardless of what is on your "to-do" list, be sure to space out your activities so you aren't doing too much. It is better to do a little bit and then rest for a bit. Don't become over-tired. And if your back hurts, lie down and give your discs a rest.

One of the best things you can do is the following:

Lie flat on the floor, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Arms should be close to the sides with palms facing upward toward the ceiling. Be sure you are lying in a straight line and tilt chin just slightly toward chest so that as much of the back of your neck and head are resting on the floor. Now, just relax and breathe deeply from the belly.

Before I had my surgeries, I would do this several times a day and I still do it at the first sign of lumbar or leg pain. It is a natural form of traction, and allows the discs to unload. It allows the muscles and soft tissue to relax, which is very helpful if you've been having any type of cramping or "guarding" of the muscles.

I hope you continue to get better and stronger and that your pain will stay away!!

 
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:19 AM   #8
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Re: Upcoming Micro-laminectomy

I have A bad back now too so anytime I need to do any lengthy bending or yard work I wear my soft brace to protect it. It has a front Velcro closure with staves in the back for support. Good luck Cathy

 
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:28 AM   #9
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Re: Upcoming Micro-laminectomy

Hi, I think i speak from experience when i say i have just had my 4th Disectomy and 3 weeks into my 4th healing process. The sciatica issue does resolve in time and the advice i would give is although I have had 4 opps i dont regret any of them. Life is important to be able to continue your everyday life without the feeling of, butt, leg or back pain. The opps certainly sorted that out and has on each occasion given me back my pain free life. However, if you decide on this procedure and as explained by my consultant, you do have to take things easy for the rest of your days. NO parachute jumping or any activity that can cause jarring or pressure on your back. My last slipped disc was caused by having a day out with the family at a local animal park and whilst there i went on a safari type vehicle that duly went over a large hole in the track and threw me from one side of this long seat to the other. I knew at that moment My disc had slipped yet again. My advice, get your freedom of pain back and defo consider the surgery......

 
Old 12-01-2012, 08:33 PM   #10
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Re: Upcoming Micro-laminectomy

I felt better before my lumbar laminectomy, to the point that I called my general doctor and he didn't leave me with much advice.

I WISH that I didn't do it. You can always have surgery but you can't turn back time. I woke up with numbness and tightness from toe to upper thigh and its been 6 months without getting better. Actually, it's worse because now my ankle is so swollen. I am seeing another doctor for another opinion and he said if I was getting better I should have listened to my body and that surgery should always be the very last resort.

 
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degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, laminectomy, stenosis



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