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  • Herniated L4/L5 - Questions

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    Old 05-13-2004, 08:11 PM   #1
    rjm161
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    Herniated L4/L5 - Questions

    Hi All

    I have done a lot of searching around the net and on these boards and haven't found anything too enlightening.

    I am a 31yo Male that until 14 months ago, never had an ounce of back pain in my life. After shoveling a lot of snow one weekend, my back felt bad. Two weeks later I picked up a computer, turned and then spent two weeks in bed. On and off since then my back pain has been anywhere between tolerable and horrible.

    I am self-employed, so when I can't work, it kills me. I am 6' 2" and about 235 now (after having lost 10 lbs. in the last month) and not in very good shape thanks to working with computers, mostly in a desk chair, for the last 7 years. Not to mention, I am “all gut”…most of my weight is right on the front of me, and I know that is awful for the back.

    Anyway, back in February I finally did the xRay and MRI deal and found out I have a herniated L4/L5. I have tried some stretching and light exercise programs and more recently PT. My back is crazy...sometimes it is fine (fine is now defined as tolerable and functional) for weeks at a time and then I slip back to the point where the pain is awful and I am laid up and can't work. My neurologist said to try PT, but that most likely surgery is the way to go. He said that the one disc is the ONLY problem and that a microdiskectomy is the way to go.

    The problem is, almost everyone else I talk to had a laminectomy as well, or had some sort of degeneration. The neurologist said I have no degeneration and that other than the one disc, my spine looks great.

    After sitting around for the past 5 days unable to leave the house, I have gotten to the point where I am really considering getting the microdiskectomy done soon and attempting to get my life back. As I am sure you all know, it is a vicious cycle…I want to start exercising and stretching to get back into shape, but the pain is brutal and keeps me from doing it.

    After searching more today, I have noticed that most L4/L5 patients have bad leg pain…my leg pain isn’t too severe, but my lower back pain is awful. I read somewhere that an L4/L5 microdiskectomy usually cures leg pain but doesn’t do much for back pain. I am really hoping someone can help clear that up…if that is definitely true I need to rethink the operation. I am meeting with the doctor next Tuesday, but would love to hear some real world views.

    If anyone has had an L4/L5 microdiskectomy and was successful (or wasn't), I’d love to hear about it. It has gone on too long and I really can’t afford to be down and out, especially if there is a decent solution out there. I am to the point where I'd rather spend two weeks at home recuperating on my way to feeling good again, rather than a week here and week there with no end in sight.

    Thanks!

     
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    Old 05-13-2004, 10:35 PM   #2
    dutch400
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    Re: Herniated L4/L5 - Questions

    I have had 3 L4 L5 surgeries done all ten years apart. One microdiskectomy and two laminectomy. Each time I herniated that disk I had a different symptom. The last one 2 years ago, gave me a lot of back pain with hardly any leg pain. My wife could not even massage my lower back with out the pain shooting in my butt and hip. After about a month after sugary the pain was all gone again. Would I have the surgeries again, Yes!! But setting for a long time, and not getting in shape is a no go. Swimming has kept me going were I can even play soccer with the kids I coach.
    Hope this helps
    Nico

     
    Old 05-14-2004, 03:19 AM   #3
    dustie
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    Re: Herniated L4/L5 - Questions

    hi: my herniation was at L5-S1, and my pain was mostly wretched sciatica down the leg, with just a little back pain. i had a bit more back pain after the microdiscectomy, but following a month of rest i started a walking and p.t. regimen that has me basically painless (10 weeks post-op). like you, i had no other back or disc problems, and the last thing i wanted was surgery, but i'm very glad i went ahead with it, because, like you, i was getting nowhere without it.

    i think the proper rest and then excellent p.t., plus a 30-pound weight loss, have made the recovery the success that it is. if you go ahead with a microdiscectomy, just do your homework and be certain you have a topknotch surgeon. i asked around and learned who to go to and who i should never let touch my back.

    i would have the surgery done again in a second if i had to (in fact, i'd have it done sooner than i did). if you do your homework beforehand, follow post-op instructions carefully, and then learn through p.t. how to strengthen the muscles that support your back (especially abdominals) -- and you commit yourself to these things -- your chances of a successful surgery are very good. nothing can be guaranteed, of course, but i reached the point where i had no life and felt i had nothing to lose.

    best of luck to you.
    dustie

     
    Old 05-14-2004, 02:54 PM   #4
    rjm161
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    Re: Herniated L4/L5 - Questions

    Thank you for the responses.

    I went to PT today and did everything OK, except I can't lift my left leg more than about 10 degrees without excruciating pain.

    I have made the decision to have the surgery. I found out my surgeon is one of the best ones around...the PT place even has two of his patients that just had microdiskectomies, both for back pain and both had very minimal leg pain. One is 3 weeks out of surgery and the other is 6 and they said they are both all smiles. I can only hope the same thing happens for me.

    On a side note, I did notice a lot of people on this board that have had a lot of problems with surgery, but I have to guess that it is like most things in life...you only tend to hop on message boards when something is wrong. I used to notice that on car forums...it may seem like a lot of people have a certain issue with a type of car, but all of the people that have 100% success just never bother to check the boards. I am guessing there are a LOT of people who have had surgery and are back to or close to 100% that are out running and biking rather than writing on the boards I can only hope that is the case.

    This is a great board...especially to find people with similar issues and to hear their stories to help you make an important decision. Thanks again.

     
    Old 06-01-2004, 02:16 PM   #5
    rjm161
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    Re: Herniated L4/L5 - Questions

    Just thought I'd follow up...figuring someone might come here and search sometime and stumble on this thread.

    I ended up getting severe leg pain on 05.16.2004, to the point where if I stood for more than 5 minutes I got excruciating pain in my left leg followed by numbness and pins and needles in my left foot. I figured that was nerve damage starting and called my doctor that Monday morning.

    I had my surgery on 05.21.2004. It turns out that the disc ruptured and a piece of it was broken off and pushing up against the nerve. All in all surgery was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting it to be. I was up out of bed the next morning with very minimal pain, especially compared to what I was expecting. I walked down the hall and up and down a flight of stairs with no trouble, and that was only 15 hours after the operation.

    After 10 days of recovering at home...things are getting better and better. I am hoping it continues

     
    Old 06-01-2004, 09:12 PM   #6
    Michaela
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    Re: Herniated L4/L5 - Questions

    Hi

    I had surgery last june 18th 2003...what I am feeling now is lower back pain, I rarely have any leg pain...but apparently the disk that I had surgery on (L5-S1) well the disk space has narrowed since surgery to half the space it should be, and the doctor told me last october that I would need fusion but to put it off for as long as possible, he also said to lose a few pounds and that would help...I have done 35 weeks of pt since my injury in august 2002 and also alot of walking, swimming is good for you too, but I don't have a pool I don't regret having the surgery (laminectomy/disectomy) as before I could hardly walk at all. But I know you have to do whats right for you...I wish you lots of luck

    Michaela
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    August 29th 2002 Injured back at work
    from August 2002 till late Nov, roller coaster ride with pain etc.
    Dec Friday 13th 2002 laid off job.
    Dec. 26th pain starts back up again, lasts for 6 weeks before pain got better then turned to sciatic pain for about 10 weeks.
    April 1st had MRI.
    April 4th MRI read by my doctor, reading L5-S1 herniated disk W/8mm bulge, pressing on nerve in spine.
    Doc says I need surgery.
    Then I was investigated (pictures & video taped)
    Had second opinion Doctor appt. and Workmans comp didn't notify me till the day after the appt. by usa mail. I was ******!
    I did go to the appt. on another day, thank god I did, cause it was the icing on the cake at my hearing. I won!
    Then had surgery for Laminectomy/Disectomy June 18th 2003.
    I also had ALOT of scare tissue, surgery was longer then expected.
    now I am over 4 weeks post op.
    still get a zing down left leg, but I can walk.
    7/30/2003 still having low back pain, like an ache feeling at the end of the day (6wk po)

     
    Old 06-02-2004, 06:15 PM   #7
    dustie
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    Re: Herniated L4/L5 - Questions

    best of luck to you, rjm! sounds like you're on a good path. i'm 3 months post-op now and still doing well, and i hope the same for you. thanks for coming back to report.
    dustie

     
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