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herniated disc

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Old 04-15-2009, 03:43 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 5
divvy1 HB User
herniated disc

Hi i am new here so be gentle with me

I have had back pain or rather left hip and buttock pain for about 4-5 months now,it goes down my left leg and makes it very numb at times. work involves some pretty heavy lifting and it got worse over a period of time and i have been unable to work in that period

I have improved a fair bit with physio but still in a lot of pain, amatriptaline, codine phosphate and diclophenic seam to do nothing for it, and am no where near being able to lift anything as yet so no signs on the work front. and over about the last 7 weeks or so no improvement at all

Anyway i am just after some advice / info really i am waiting my follow up with the surgeon but have seen my MRI scan and to me it looks like i have one definate herniated disc and one possible next to it that is too (i forget which numbers but i think it may have been L5 area)

What i'd like to know is what is the prognosis of recovery , not sure i am going to recover any more without it so how good are the chances after surgury of a full recovery.... or of it all going wrong. i know there is fusing disc removal / replacements etc

Anyone out there still doing a manual style job after surgury and how do you get on with it?

i'd be greatful for any advise or tips

Last edited by divvy1; 04-15-2009 at 03:48 PM.

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Old 04-15-2009, 04:07 PM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 366
marshrose HB User
Re: herniated disc

I had a microdiscectomy- on 2 levels for 2 extruded large discs, L3-4, and L4-5.
I was bedridden prior to my micro D, and one of the 2 levels reherniated largely immediately after surgery in the recovery room, dr says the disc must have been in terrible shape to rehernaite so largely so quickly, course they didn't find it for 3 months of severe pain I went thru, then did the MRI.

I had to then get a fusion, on the L4-5. My micro'd L3-4, is still holding strong.
When you get either surgery, your lifting heavy things will be over, as well as if you continue to do so now, you will make it worse and worse, and the longer the nerve is affected without treatment, the more chance you have of permanent damage, usually over 9 to 12 months, is a harder recovery with a high potential for nerve damage, or so I have read- (and I read ALOT lol).

With the MicroD, its about a 2" scar, for 3 months after surgery, NO lifting, bending or twisting, you will still most likely be out of work, with the fusion, they told me 4-6 months til I can return to work, I have been literally bedridden for 9 months prior to the fusion, so I am not the 'norm'. I had 2 surgeries in 5 months.

The MicroD, was a smaller incision, but since I reherniated so largely immediately, I had a terrible recovery, EVEN THOU then, I could finally put my foot down to try to walk, which I hadn't been able to do prior to surgery, I dragged my leg only to the bathroom like egore, and was completely hunched over and in agony. The 'fixed' disc, is still holding strong and is fine, but you will have the chance of reherinating any time in your future, as even thou the disc is fixed, you've spent your entire life doing things a certain way (which wasn't good health for your spine or you wouldn't be in this position!!!) So, as there are no guarantees, you would haveto be very careful of what you do in the future, I do not know the lifting limits after micro D.

I have read for FUSIONS (about a 6" scar) it can be anywhere from no more than 10lbs, to not over 25 but occassionally 50. I think it depends on what you've been thru, and the condition of the discs above and below the fusion area. You will be taught how to lift properly, and you WILL NOT be bending over to pick anything up anymore, only squatting or going down on one knee most likely.

Microdiscectomies carry a 10% chance of reherniation, it ususally depends on the size of the defect in the disc, IE = large herniation, large defect in the disc wall, longer to heal, (it heals as scar tissue comes and holds in the disc)

Fusions can carry anywhere from a 20 on some sites 40% chance of non-fusion or not helping the radiculopathy, but if it is an INJURY vs an over time degenerative disc disease with multiple discs involved, it is easier to pinpoint the correct problem disc.

Usually they give you to 12 weeks for signs of improvement, if none you decide if you're going to live with it, if sugery is an option- surgery, or trying epidural steriod injections if you have not yet, to see if that helps the pains.

K I rambled enuf, hope that helps.

Last edited by marshrose; 04-15-2009 at 04:10 PM.

Old 04-16-2009, 04:45 AM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 5
divvy1 HB User
Re: herniated disc

Thanks for that, pretty much covers most i needed to know. but is there any others out there with experiacne or similar. someone perhaps who has bucked the trend and ended up back at work and doing fine etc?

Old 04-16-2009, 07:39 AM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: USA
Posts: 351
brendaks1 HB Userbrendaks1 HB Userbrendaks1 HB User
Re: herniated disc


Please keep in mind that the people who had successful back surgeries are now back enjoying life and probably not hanging around on this board. I would say there are very few people (if any) who are able to return to heavy manual labor jobs after back surgery. There are some people who are able to return to light to moderate manual labor jobs. The majority of people who have back surgery for a herniated disc will recover and get back on with their lives within a few months. Heavy lifting after back surgery will put you at increased chances of further damage to your spine, and remember that surgery cuts through the muscles and ligaments that hold your spine together and this damage permanently weakens your spinal stability.

Also, they say that your body can sometimes reabsorb about 50% of a herniated disc over a period of a couple of years. This may or may not be enough to get you back on with your life. Surgery should always be a last resort after conservative treatments haven't worked. Many people also have herniated discs that are asymptomatic meaning they don't have significant symptoms - we all have different sizes of spinal canals and some of us can tolerate a herniated disc better than others. It's also more about the location of the herniated disc than it is the size of it - you can have a small herniation that is pressing on a nerve root and driving you out of your mind or a large herniation that just gives you a twinge of pain once in a while. You said you haven't heard from your surgeon yet about your MRI results - they may have additional information they see in the MRI about what is going on.

Very rarely will they do a fusion as a first surgery unless you also have spinal instability, so they would probably do a laminectomy/discectomy or microdiscectomy on you if you need surgery.

Similar to rosespetal, I had laminectomy/discectomy surgery last August on my L4/L5 disc and the disc immediately reherniated. Also, I had a massive post-surgical hematoma and nasty infection that put me back in the hospital for another week. I have gone round and round with various doctors as to whether the reherniation is causing my continued sciatica, but the doctors are now much closer to doing a 2nd surgery on me which may end up being a fusion.

It sounds as though you really enjoy your job and desperately want to return to that work, but I have to be honest and tell you that you should plan on your days of heavy manual labor to be over and start planning for an alternative lifestyle and type of work if you truly have a herniation that requires surgery.

Old 04-17-2009, 02:28 AM   #5
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 2
Nightwishh HB User
Re: herniated disc

Hi all.
Divvy1, maybe you should also consider the posibility of a non invasive procedure, like nucleoplasty... I`m pretty sure your suregeon will tell you if you are a candidate for something like this.
In my opinion, once you had spinal suregery ( even if only a non invasive procedure ), hard labor is out of question, for life.
Good luck with your disk hernia!

Old 04-18-2009, 01:57 AM   #6
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 5
divvy1 HB User
Re: herniated disc

thanks for all the replies good point about the people who have had success stories are out and about getting on with life etc. i guess in some ways i am doing the thing of sticking my head in the sand and fingers x'd hoping it will all work out... but i guess its that time will tell thing.

Once again thanks for the replys and keep up the good work!

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