I'm a 42 year old female with DDD at L5-S1 since 1995. Through the years, I've been in a back brace, done PT, ice/heat, E-Stim, exercises, whirlpool - you name it I've done it - cortizone shots, etc. Nothing really helped me and I "learned" to live with, and "deal" with the pain, and what I can and cannot do to avoid the pain in my lower back.
I've been to 5 different doctor's over the past 13 yrs.
1st: 1995 Ortho. Surgeon - edited - said I need fusion L5-S1 (my primary doc said I was too young and to try to hold off)
2nd: 2000 Neuro. Surgeon - edited - said I had MS - after all Evoked Potentials/MRI's - negative. (because of all my tingling and numbness in legs/feet).
3rd: 2005 Nero. Surgeon - edited- said I have severe DDD and need fusion but wouldn't touch my back b'cuz I smoke. (though I've since quit).
4th: 2006 GP - edited - had no direct answer on what was causing my numbness & tingling in both legs/feet, front and back on activity (even walking up 5-6 stairs). Also had electric shocks going into back of my heels when I bent my head down.
5th: 2008 Top edited. Said MRIs show total loss of disc at L5-S1 - too far gone for disc replacement. Suggested a 360 Anterior/Posterior fusion at L5-S1.
Back in June, I lifted a heavy box while twisting and thought I really did it this time - according to the pain I had. It spurned yet another MRI - which showed that L5-S1 disc is no longer - ortho. said it's "bone on bone" and wants to do surgery.
I'm SCARED TO DEATH of surgery b'cuz of all the horror stories I've read about - and not enough successes. Doc only gave me a 75% chance of success with 25% chance of having the same or worse pain/numbness/tingling. He's a top Orthopedic surgeon in a Boston hospital and comes highly recommended.
Here's the kicker and what is bothering me the most... although I have pain, I've learned to "live" with it and just believe that it's "normal". In the morning, I have to get out of bed inch by inch, when I'm finally standing, most times I need to hold onto the bed and window sill until I know my legs will hold me... I get to the bathroom, hobbling as best I can - and can't bend to remove my pj bottoms, so have to use my numb feet.
Once out of the shower, I seriously feel better and more able to "function". I have a lot of tingling in my lower, left back at this point, but ignore it. I go to work, sometimes having to sit b'cuz my back gets weak or painful depending on what I'm doing. Mostly I can bare the day and I'm "functioning"...
I don't really feel any pain again until I lay down to go to bed. I walk, I sit, I can bend over once I'm up and moving about throughout the day...
Do I really NEED surgery??? I'm so afraid of the recovery and being in worse shape than I am now. I'm able to function and work every day - what if I can't after surgery?
My surgery date is January 30, 2009 and my pre-op is the 15th, where I'm tempted to tell the surgeon to forget it..
From what I've said - do you guys think I should go through with this? I'm not in pain all the time - numbness and tingling is 24/7, but I'm used to that now...
Please help - and I'm so sorry for the "book"...
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