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How long should I wait before surgery?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,900
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello all,

First let me tell you a little about myself. I'm 24 and currently in the US Air Force. I was injured in June 2007. Turns out I have a herniated disc at L4-L5, and at L5-S1 along with stenosis and DDD. I have been diligently following my doctor's instructions over the past year+. I have done countless hours of physical therapy, tried every medication under the sun, and recently had some injections. However, the pain has never subsided. In fact it may actually be worse.

My question is how long should I put up with this until I entertain surgery as an option? This pain is slowly ruining my life, I went from a fairly active person to a hermit within a year. Also, in your opinion what type of surgery would likely be performed? Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Joe
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Comments

  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and anwswer what questions we can. of course this is something very personal between you and your doctor. my opinion is to consider how much more pain can you take? if you have tried all the consrvative measures, and it sounds like you have, then perhaps it is time to face the possibility of surgery. you are still so young. if you have gotton several opinions or even a third that the procedure would work for you, then the time may be now. be sure to ask all the questions you need until you have a full understanding of what is going to happen and what is the outcome? how high is a successful recovery rate for your procedure? you might want to read "Good News" for a look at some successful surgeries from fellow members. good luck to you! Jenny :)
  • Hi and welcome to spine health.
    There is wealth of information on here about spinal conditions etc.
    Please feel free to contact any of our mods for any questions.
    The question your asking is something no one can answer accept for you and your drs. There are so many types of spinal surgeries out there. All Drs perform differntly on all patients.
    We are here as patients and to share our own personal experiences. So to have a correct answer for you is totally impossible.
    Surgery is always a last option. Once you have done it there is no turning back to reverse the procedure.
    Make sure you do all your homework, get a few opinions, have used all other alternative treatments as injections etc.
    If you feel now it is interuppting your life style, then yes in my personal opinion get a orthopedic surgeon (spine) or a neurosurgeon's opinion. AS one Dr is going to have something different to say then the other.
    Make sure you have all your films. A list of treatments that have been tried. What activity makes your pain more or less.
    Get started on that and go from there.
    It sometimes is a long process for some especially with referrels etc.
    I want to wish you the very best of luck and I hope you can find something that is going to relieve your pain.

    Take Care
    Terri ;)
  • Yes, I agree - surgery needs to be the last option - you've done everything else and even if you were faced with a wheelchair post-op it would be better than what you are dealing with now. Or at least, that's the decision I had to come to before my surgery.

    The only thing I did not think I could handle after surgery would be worse pain - and there are plenty of people that have had increased pain after surgery, so it is a chance you take.

    You are the only one that can make the decision, research your surgeon and do your homework - you just do what you can do.

    Best of luck

  • And your life is not yours anymore, is when I considered surgery. I never wanted it.. heard both bad and good from it. But here I am approx 36 hours from my back surgery, and Im hopefully optimistic. It all needs to done with a positive attitude, bad attitudes cause worse results.
    The decision is yours... always have at least 2 opinions from surgeons for such a major surgery.
    Good luck to you!
  • While I did my research and exhausted all the conservative treatments(9 months), my right calf shrank almost 2 inches.
    I never noticed!

    So, there are also consequences to waiting.
    Some even get permanent damage.

    Nice choices we have, huh?

    Don't limit yourself to the neighborhood surgeon.
    Look in many areas for the best solution for you.
    Keep us updated on your situation. :)))
    -----------------------------
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Hi Joe,

    Welcome to Spine Health. It is a frustrating position to be in, and the job you have doesn't help matters either.

    When to have surgery is such a personal decision and what type of surgery depends so much on the injury itself, the patient and the surgeon.

    Have you even been sent to see a neurosurgeon yet? Has your PCM been taking care of you to this point?

    "C"
  • This is what I based my decision on. Like you I had become a hermit and rarely went out as it was too difficult.
    I only went to family and nearby friends.

    So weigh up the pros and cons, how much worse could it get, have you tried EVERYTHING, etc.

    A positive attidue is really the best friend you can have no matter what your decision.

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • Since you are military, you may get the impression that whatever neurosurgeon your PCM sends you to, is the only one you can see. That's not the case and as a matter of fact, you can even ask the NS you see how to go about getting a second opinion and that NS will help you get it set up. You can also be refered to a civilian NS, or to a NS at other military hospitals.

    So just know that your options are abundant!

    "C"

    "IYAAYAS"
  • Thank you all for your input. I spoke to my PCM yesterday and I am going to see a civilian neurosurgeon. And as if it wasn't bad enough already, they found out I had a kidney stone and some type of lesion on my kidney. So more pain, but I'm trying to stay optimistic. I have really tried every non-surgical solution and am kind of running out of steam so to speak. Thanks again everyone for lifting my spirits a little bit.


    - Joe

    P.S. haglandc, are you AMMO?

    IYAAYAS
  • Hey Joe,

    That excellent that they are getting you in to see a civilian NS. Bummer about the kidney stone and leison, but as long as they are on top of that, no worries.

    Not AMMO but worked side by side with AMMO for many many years and hired several AMMO troops to work for me. Some of the most used and abused members of the USAF and some of the nicest and most loyal. Used to own the largest AMMO dump in the Pacific.

    "C"

    So I always tend to agree with IYAAYAS
  • Surgery is a double-edged blade (excuse the poor pun). On the one hand you want to put it off for as long as possible and exhaust all conservative options first but on the other hand if you really do need it you don't want to delay, as (depending upon your specific condition) permanent nerve damage can result by delaying too long.

    Get a second opinion if you haven't already, from another neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon (either is OK, so long as they specialise in lumbar spinal surgeries). Don't be put off by the 'surgeon' bit - they will explore all options before actually recommending surgery.

    If you do need surgery, the type of surgery will be dependent upon your specific diagnosis and somewhat on your ultimate surgeon's preferred surgical technique for that condition. Unlike many other medical conditions which only have one or two surgical techniques, there are many options for spine surgical procedures.

    Sorry about the stone...been there too.

    Cheers... Bruce
    Keep positive!

    Bruce

    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

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