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Old 05-30-2007, 09:54 PM
tao tao started this thread
 
Location: Colorado
719 posts, read 2,321,851 times
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I just got my MRI results back and found out I have a severely herniated disc and I'm going to need surgery. I would love to hear from anyone who has gone through the same thing. What can I expect after surgery? Is there anything I need to know that I might not be thinking about? I know nothing about all this, just that my disc is herniated and I need surgery. Will I have to sleep on my stomach after surgery? What's the recovery time?

Thanks in advance for any help or advice.
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Old 06-01-2007, 11:54 PM
 
Location: Between Here and There
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tao View Post
I just got my MRI results back and found out I have a severely herniated disc and I'm going to need surgery. I would love to hear from anyone who has gone through the same thing. What can I expect after surgery? Is there anything I need to know that I might not be thinking about? I know nothing about all this, just that my disc is herniated and I need surgery. Will I have to sleep on my stomach after surgery? What's the recovery time?

Thanks in advance for any help or advice.
I haven't had surgery for my back but I know several people that have. It depends on what they are doing to fix it. You need to get the specifics from your doctor. I am thinking you are having spinal fusion, but there are lots of new procedures too so to be sure call him and ask him specifically what they are doing in your case. Good luck!
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Old 06-02-2007, 10:12 AM
tao tao started this thread
 
Location: Colorado
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Thanks, irishmom.
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Old 06-02-2007, 10:40 AM
 
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Yikes! I have had herniated discs, and boy, it's painful! I never had surgery; I was lucky in that physical therapy and LOTS of walking helped tremendously.
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Old 06-02-2007, 10:15 PM
 
Location: So. Dak.
13,496 posts, read 25,447,434 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tao View Post
I just got my MRI results back and found out I have a severely herniated disc and I'm going to need surgery. I would love to hear from anyone who has gone through the same thing. What can I expect after surgery? Is there anything I need to know that I might not be thinking about? I know nothing about all this, just that my disc is herniated and I need surgery. Will I have to sleep on my stomach after surgery? What's the recovery time?

Thanks in advance for any help or advice.
Yes, I understand your concern. The first I learned of it was nine years ago. I had creepy crawly feelings in my hair and just felt funny. I was checked out for a brain tumor and since there was none, the MRI-d my neck. I had a protrusion in C4-5 and also C6-7. I had a herniation in C5-6. I was not going to have surgery for the strange feelings, but all of a sudden C6-7 herniated. I had excruciating pain shooting down my right arm and was ambulanced to Sioux Falls for surgery. To make that part of the story short, the Dr. had diddled around, I was overdrugged, had to be undrugged so I had to stay there three days until they operated, screaming throughout the whole time. They had administered a new experimental drug to free me of the drugs I'd been on and it started inducing a heart attack.

Ok, fast forward to my surgery. I chose to use my own hip bone vs. cadaver bone. At that point, they fused C5-6 and C6-7. I came out of surgery feeling fantastic!!! No more "electric" pains shooting down my right side and my arm. The most problem I had was with getting my hip to recuperate.

The surgery lasted about 4 hours and I remained in the hospital two more days, but keep in mind I had the earlier complications. I had a Philadelphia collar and wasn't able to remove it except for 30 minutes a day~shower, hair wash, etc. I was pretty off balance and needed help getting cleaned up. My husband had bought me a "wedge" because I couldn't lower myself enough to sleep in bed. But actually, sleeping in a recliner would work out well, too. Your neck muscles are very weak for a while. I wasn't allowed to drive, of course. At three weeks, I went back for my checkup and they let me get rid of the thick Philadelphia collar and go to a soft collar. At my six week check up, I was doing fine. I then went back to light duty work and I do physical labor. They do allow you to be off work for 3 months, but I didn't have that much sick leave and wanted to go back. We can access a "sick bank", but I actually was feeling quite well so I didn't find it necessary.

They went in through my throat and moved my voicebox, breathing tube, etc. over. A very few amount of people are never able to talk out loud again. I have a plate in the front of my throat that was necessary for the first six months to aid in the fusion. After that it's useless, but I've never had it removed. I may do it some day because my breathing tube does lay against it and it cuts off my air at times. I cough and wheeze and try to get air, but it's always moved to this point and I've been ok. They now make a thinner plate to avoid that problem.

They also have a new liquid or gel to just shoot into the area. Some areas of the country (like mine) don't do it yet because it's not a tried and true thing yet and they're waiting to see the results from patients who've had it done.

There is a gal who went to Orlando to have it done and walked out the next day and within a week was playing tennis. That's probably been a year ago and she's doing fine.

We also have known a few people who've done this. One man turned out fine, but a lady didn't turn out well at all. Her surgery had been botched with a nerve pinched and they had to go back in and undo it and she's just always had problems from it.

If you have any more questions, I'd be more then happy to try to answer them for you.
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Old 06-03-2007, 10:24 AM
tao tao started this thread
 
Location: Colorado
719 posts, read 2,321,851 times
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Wow, it sounds like you've been through a rough ordeal. I would freak out if I thought that was what was ahead for me.

My herniation is in my lower back at L-4 / L-5. I'm waiting to have a second opinion before I have any surgery. I just had my gall bladder out 5 months ago and my body is still adjusting to that loss so I'm only going to have this surgery if it's 100% necessary. The doctor who's been working with me is a chiropractic doctor which I'm not so sold on in the first place. I feel that his manipulations to my back only made things worse. He ordered the MRI and gave me the results which I was given a photocopy of (It says," There is a large posterior herniated nucleus pulposus at L-4 - L-5 to the right of the midline causing significant impingement and deformity of the dural sac as well as moderate encroachment of the left neural foramen and moderate to marked encroachment of the right neural foramen. The remainder of the discs in the lumbar spine is unremarkable. The vertabral body heights and alignments are normal. There are no bone marrow signal abnormalities. The conus medullaris and surrounding soft tissue structures are normal." ). At first I think he said I'd probably need surgery. But maybe he said I'd definitely need it, I don't know. I have an appointment with a regular doctor who will be able to refer me to any specialists I may need to see. I'm going to see if surgery is 100% necessary. At this point I can handle the pain. It comes and goes and was getting better until I went to the chiropractic doctor. Now that I haven't had an adjustment for over a week I'm starting to feel better again. The pain isn't shooting down my leg as much, most days I don't have the shooting pain at all. Granted, I'm on percocet, but I only take half a pill once or twice a day. This issue has been going on since before my gall bladder surgery but it got worse after, probably because I was compensating in my back to keep my stomach muscles rested.

Anyway, that's my situation. If anyone has any further thoughts or advice I'd appreciate it. Thanks!
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Old 06-03-2007, 10:42 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
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I work for a spinal surgeon - have for 15 years, pretty sure I could do the surgery if someone would just give me a scalpel :-)

Have you tried other noninvasive techniques, like epidural steroid injections? Please ask about that first. It doesn't sound like you have spinal stenosis from the vertebral canal narrowing, so they may be able to do a percutaneous discectomy if surgeyr is required, which is MUCH easier than a laminectomy and fusion.

What part of the country are you in? Please see a spinal orthopaedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon who specializes in spinal problems, NOT a general surgeon or an ortho who handles it all. There are too many new techniques coming up - a specialist that only handles spines is your best bet. And get a second opinion. Back surgery can alter you forever - best to have the opinions of a couple or three docs before diving off into anything.
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Old 06-03-2007, 11:22 AM
tao tao started this thread
 
Location: Colorado
719 posts, read 2,321,851 times
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Thanks, Sam I Am! I'm in Florida, in the Treasure Coast area (Stuart, Jensen Beach, Port St. Lucie, Ft. Pierce). My situation is, I don't have a regular doctor here yet. I'm establishing new patient status with a doctor in a couple of weeks (took ages to get the appointment). When I had my gall bladder out it was basically emergency surgery. I went to a PA (in the doctors group which my soon-to-be new doctor is part of) as an emergency appointment and they did a bunch of tests and saw that I was full of gallstones. A day later I got jaundice from one of the stones passing and went into the hospital and had the surgery immediately. This still left me without a regular doctor. When my back pain got really bad post-surgery I went back to the same PA and he referred me to a chiropractic doctor. But in a couple of weeks I'll be a new patient with one of the doctors in the group and he'll be able to refer me to the right specialist. The PA was able to prescribe percocet and Flexeril for my back pain which my soon-to-be doctor signed off on when he consulted with the PA so at least my pain has been managed. It's proven to be rather complicated getting a doctor in Florida, at least here in the Treasure Coast.

I'm definitely going to wait and see about surgery. Like I've said, it has to be 100% necessary. The pain is starting to get better now and even at its worst was something I could handle. Does a herniated disc ever heal on its own? What would an epidural steroid injection be for - pain? or does it do something to the herniation? The chiropractic doctor only gave me my results, he wants me to go to a neurosurgeon to get the details on how to resolve this...though he did say I'd probably need surgery. My point is, I haven't gotten any real info about what my results mean and what to do about it, just a general diagnosis. And now I have to wait for a couple of weeks to find out more. I've been lost, trying to figure out what my options are but haven't had anyone to talk to. The chiropractic doctor is now on vacation and will be out of town for the next few weeks and I have to wait to talk to the regular MD. Thank you for your comments and advice. I really appreciate it.
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Old 06-03-2007, 11:44 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,982 posts, read 11,094,892 times
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An epidural steroid injection is given into the dural space to reduce swelling with the use of steroids. Usually you will take a series of at least 3 of these, administered either by a surgeon or anesthesiologist. And yes, a disc can heal on it's own, but much depends on the size and placement. It sounds as if yours is fairly severe -however, if you can have ESIs and keep it under control, it sure is better than back surgery. It would decrease the size of the herniation, and therefore the pain resolves or at least is greatly reduced. This is a highly effective treatment with many patients - some don't get nearly as much relief and end up having to have surgery anyway.

A percutaneous discectomy is a very small incision and they sort of (very simplified, of course) suck out the herniation with a little vacuum thing-y - the pain you are feeling is from the enlargement of the nucleus pulposus as it presses on nerve endings exiting the spinal canal....if the herniation can be reduced, the swelling goes down, the nerves aren't impinged, and it's a whole lot easier than traditional back surgery.

I've heard of Laser Spine Institute in Tampa and they have a website - Laser Spine Orthopedic Surgery - Spinal Surgery Experts I know the spine surgeon I work for here in Arkansas has referred patients that were moving to Florida to this group. There is a good deal of information on back problems and descriptions and explanations on their site, it might be worth looking at. Look under "spine conditions" - there's a fairly good drawing there of the spine - to the right it says "herniated disc" - click that and there's all the info on how the spine is constructed. Maybe that will help you some in deciphering your MRI report.

If you can figure out if any spine surgeons have been trained at Wiltse Spine Institute in California, that's a primo place to train. There's also a teaching program at Texas Back Institute. There's another surgeon I am familiar with, but I believe he is up toward Destin or Pensacola. I can find out if you'd like.
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Old 06-03-2007, 12:12 PM
tao tao started this thread
 
Location: Colorado
719 posts, read 2,321,851 times
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Wow, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions and for your recommendations. I really appreciate it!

Does an epidural steroid injection hurt?? I'm absolutely terrified of needles. I'm very scared at the thought of having injections into my spine (but if it's the only option I guess I'll have to do it). Also, since the pain is lessening and I have the opportunity to get lots of rest and put no strain on my back can I hope it will get less severe and therefore heal on its own? There was a point where the pain went away completely for a few weeks but then I starting doing activites which brought the pain back which is where I am now. The pain is lessening though and I feel like it's getting a lot better and has the chance to go away again as long as I stop doing activities that put strain on my back.

Is it possible for this to heal without injections or surgery?
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