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Ruptured L-5/S1 Need options Other than Surgery: Help Please

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Old 10-24-2004, 10:00 AM   #1
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SpinalMalady HB UserSpinalMalady HB User
Red face Ruptured L-5/S1 Need options Other than Surgery: Help Please


My name is Becky and I'll tell you a little about my story. In 1991 I was sitting at a stop light 4th in line waiting to turn left, when out of the blue, and undercover narcotics police officer plowed into the rear of my car. He never even applied the brakes. He hit me so hard, I hit the car in front of me, who hit the car in front of him, who hit the car in front of him...etc...It was a 4 car accident. I had a concussion from hitting the driver's side window, and a bit of whiplash.....I did not have any indication of back problems at that time, but they did not do a spinal x-ray or CT, or MRI......I guess about 2 years later, I started having "back" problems. My back would "go out" know "freeze up" pain in low back...usually lasted 3 or 4 days, take muscle relaxers, and then it would go away....These 'bouts would happen 4 or 5 times a year for about 10 years, and it was not a big deal to me....

Recently (this past April) I started taking Topamax for my migraine headaches that I've suffered since I was 7 years old. They had gotten so bad that I was having as many as 4 or 5 a day....Well, one of the side effects of topamax (which is actually an anti-seizure med) is weight loss. I started losing weight very quickly....To date I've lost 60 pounds....After I lost the first 10 pounds, my hubby and I started walking 2 miles a day. My doctor has told me if I wasn't taking the Topamax my pain level would be MUCH higher! Is anyone else taking Topamax for pain relief???

I also teach an Interpreter Training Program for folks who want to become Professional Interrpeters for the Deaf. When I went back to school in August after being off for the Summer Months, I started having cramps in my legs and just thought it was from not being used to standing....then they became charlie horses.....then they got even worse.....charlie horses on steriods....never went away.....I could not sleep, could not lay on my back or stomach or right side....could only lay on my left side. Was only getting about
one or one 1/2 hour of sleep a night. If I cough or sneeze, OMG, the pain will blow my head off!

I went to my GP to ask for an MRI, and he ordered one. Upon receiving the results, he wanted to refer me to a Neurosurgon for SURGERY. I told him I DID NOT want Surgery on my back that I wanted to EXPLORE OTHER options first. So he refered me to a PM Specialist. I really thought at that time that I wanted the trigger point injections, to just get me out of pain. My problem was that I could not get in to see the PM Specialist until the END of NOV. I knew there was no way that I could wait that long, so I did some research, and decided on the VAX-D treatment for now. Is anyone else using Vax-D or has used it??? Did it help??? They tell me I won't really get full benefit until treatment #15, but my insurance pays for it, so what the heck! Can you all, (seems like you all have a WEALTH of knowledge) give me some other options should the VAX-D not help me? I just want to know that I have explored EVERYTHING before I go for a surgical consult. I have to admit that after reading some of the things on the Trigger point shots and the steriod shots from this list (ARE THEY THE SAME??) that now I'm a little scared of them, but that would not hinder me from trying them......

I'm desperate to NOT have surgery. Maybe I WILL have to go thru surgery, but at least I will have comfort in knowing I did my RESEARCH and looked into other options....any replies will be greatly appreciated....Y'all are a great bunch. I'm praying for this group to become pain free!
Thanks in advance for your replies. Sorry for such a long read, I'll keep it short from now on, I promise....


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Old 10-24-2004, 05:51 PM   #2
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carol632 HB User
Re: Ruptured L-5/S1 Need options Other than Surgery: Help Please

Please, please, please, do not do this. YOu are taking a huge huge risk and could end up with lots more pain than you have now.

You don't have to go to the dr. your pcp recommended do you? If not, call around and find someone who can see you sooner, but I would start with an orthopedic spine specialist. Just because they are surgeons, it doesn't mean they will recommend surgery as the very first option. If they do, then another opinion is needed.

The L5-S1 is a nasty bugger and the most common troublemaker and there are times when you just cant get out of surgery if you want any quality of life. I agree that it should be avoided as long as possible, but you want to be careful not to end up with permanent nerve damage. I am a veteran of 23 years fighting back problems with L5-S1 being the worst of it. I have learned that finding a very compassionate and knowledgeable doctor is the absolute starting point for successful surgery and treatment.

Good luck to you and be sure and let us know how you are doing.

2 lami's, 3 fusions
bone spur removal
cerv. fusion, 1 level
morphine pump

Old 10-25-2004, 05:15 AM   #3
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SpinalMalady HB UserSpinalMalady HB User
Question Re: Ruptured L-5/S1 Need options Other than Surgery: Help Please

Hi Carol:

Don't do what??? Surgery First or Vax-D or accupuncture??? I'm confused by the post? Sorry. Thanks for your insight, it seems (sadfully so) that you have much experience!


Old 10-25-2004, 04:21 PM   #4
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AlSmith HB User
Re: Ruptured L-5/S1 Need options Other than Surgery: Help Please

Hey Becky, first of all, I am sorry you are in pain. Ten weeks ago I had a microdiscectomy at. L5,S1 and it has been FANTASTIC. I could barely walk before and I almost feel normal now. I don't blame you for looking for nonsurgical options though. If you can get better without surgery then I am happy for you. You should still go to see the Neurological surgeon though. They don't just do surgery. They specialize in the spine and how to treat injuries there. They could best judge if surgery would even help you or not. Surgery only should be performed if the injury is clear and the type of surgery has a high success rate for the symptoms you are suffering from. You should also feel comfortable with it. It is, after all, your body and your descision. I wish you the best and I hope you find a way to get better.


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