Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

There's gotta be another way.....

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Not sure where I should have put this but here goes:

I'm in the Air Force and while I was deployed in late 2006, on my way home actually, I injured my back picking up an extremely heavy duffel bag. I sought medical care immediately after I felt pain and long story short, over the past 2 years at 2 different bases, I've been to physical therapy twice, been given foot inserts ( I also have right foot numbness while running or walking fast), given X-rays, and finally after 22 months, given a MRI that showed I have herniated discs at L4-L5 and L5-S1 and hypertrophic facet joints.

With this I was sent off base to a pain management doc who gave me a total of 2 epidural injections and a nerve block on my left side. He wanted to burn my nerve and I told him no way since he wanted to do it like that moment without letting me think of all my options. I told the people on base that I wanted a second opinion and I recently saw a neurosurgeon who told me I had three options:
1. Live with the pain (no way)
2. Fusion (no way, I can barely touch my toes now)
3. Shave off part of the affected disc (my pain is centralized so it's not an easy fix) to alleviate pressure off my nerve. Only downside is that it's 50/50 chance it will even minimize the pain let alone affect it at all.

He gave me Lortab APAP 10/500 and Skelaxin 800mg. From my only experience with the Lortab, I think I'll be skipping that. Made me feel like I had morning sickness and carrying septuplets. I feel like I'm going to be a crippled mess the rest of my life. I'm 23 with a 3 year old and hoping to give him a sibling or two someday with my wonderful husband who also is in the Air Force and puts up with all my crap most of the time. I feel I'm too young for fusion and there's too many risks of messing up the other discs chasing after my son. I've been asking my friends and some other health professionals and they all say avoid going under the knife. My parents just want to make sure I get disability from the military. I am about 50 lbs heavier than I'd like to be since I can't do much of anything for exercise and my diet is slowly getting better.

So....there's gotta be another way, right? Maybe all I need is to lose the weight that's putting pressure on my frame? I've got so many problems I doubt I've listed them all, it's late and I have to get my uniform ready for tomorrow. Sorry for the long read but any and all advice is greatly appreciated.


  • I've been off work for 11 months. I'm trying everything conservatively meds, injections, had physio, TENS, some accupuncture, massage. Now I've found the slim glider and recumbent stationary bicycle good on the back. www.chirogeek.com has helped me. I got this link from someone here. It's good to get more opinions from Ortho and Neurologists. You need an EMG also. Some herniated discs heal on their own over time and some need surgery. Take care. Charry

    PS I'm sharing from my experiences and only a Dr. can give medical advice.
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I'm sorry you are going through this. Something stood out, though, in your story. Do you have your doctor's permission to be bending over and touching your toes (or trying)? The minute I was told I had a massive herniated disc at L5-S1, I was told NO bending, lifting or twisting if I had any hope of it healing and avoiding surgery. Mine ended up too far gone, however, and I had surgery, and then another, and then another. No way those discs can "suck back in" and try to heal if you are bending that extensively.

    I would check with your doc and just make sure that is recommended. Hate to have you continuing to worsen your condition thinking you were doing a good thing (exercising, stretching, etc.)

    Good luck - I hope you are able to avoid surgery. Welcome to Spine Health!!

  • i hope u can find a sucessful solution to your pain and again i welcome u to the forum, there is a lot of info here.
  • :D hi and welcome to the forum! =D> we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. you are in the right spot for a hello anywhere!. i want to thank you for your service!! good luck as you seek pain relief. Jenny :D
  • Hopefully your disc will retreat on it;s own. Do A LOT of research. Many discs will retreat on their own after conservative treatment.

    I have had the lumbar fusion three weeks ago, if you want any advice or just to talk, email or PM me anytime and I will let you know what I have gone through.

    I do want to say THANK YOU for your service. I wish you well.

    Take care
  • Hello Sbogart,

    Sorry that you are in so much back pain. You have received wonderful support here on SH.

    Sbogart, is there some way you can see several spinal surgeons to get additional optinions to help guide you in your decison? Hope so.

  • A discectomy seems to be your best option. I would not go with the fusion until you've exhaust everything else. Fusions cannot be reversed. And you will begin the domino effect. Don't want to start that until there's no other option.

    That being said... I had a broad based L4-L5 herniation.. Eccentric to the right, but it was herniated across the whole length of the disc. It was a longer discectomy than normal, but she had no problem. My leg pain went away, but my back pain didn't. I had DDD, not just a herniated disc. I had a fusion because of the DDD, and because I herniated the disc a second time, and came very close to losing all strength and use of my right foot.

    Fusion is not a very good solution for herniated discs... At all. There is no need to remove the discs unless they aren't being put to any use. Cutting away the herniated portion is the only thing that makes sense.

    Unfortunately facet joints and SI joints and the like are not so easily treated. Generally relief comes when surgery is performed for the underlying causes and then you regain your strength and the same range of motion, same amount of activity, etc...

    It's ultimately your choice, and only you can make that decision... But I really, really want to stress that fusion surgery should ALWAYS be the last option, and herniated disc treatment should not include fusing any vertebrae unless most of the disc has to be removed and you have spinal instability. (Which is rare from a herniated disc w/o DDD.)

    Either way, good luck with whatever you choose, and I hope you find some relief soon! :)
  • Hi, welcome to Spine Health. I am retired Air Force and do understand the frustrations of having back pain while on active duty. There are other options offered by the military, such as acupuncture, chiro and Osteopathic Manipulation. The good thing is, that TriCare covers all of it. Your PM doc should be able to give you the referral necessary. Depending on what base you are at, other branches of the service offer these from their own physicians.

    There are many other alternatives. One thing to keep in mind, (and don't take this as me saying you should consider surgery) is that many neurosurgeons will tell you there's only a 50/50 chance, especially if you aren't really suffering any radiculopathy. I personally think it is their way of trying to discourage people from having surgery and for some, a way to see if someone is really in as much pain as they claim. Who really knows. I just know that it is very common to hear.

    Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

  • Figured I'd chime in here. Most people who are familiar with my story know that I reherniated my disc JUST bending over. I was never told not to bend or anything, after my 6 week post op appt and my restrictions were lifted after my discectomy. This was 4 months post op. I was sitting on the edge of my tub, shaving my legs... Bent over just enough to reach the water, but I was bending to the left. I felt the worst pain I have ever felt shoot through my back down to my toes, and I came very, very close to falling off the tub and onto the floor. Lol. Seeing as how my initial issue was on my right side, my right leg, and I bent to the left, it made the disc herniate pretty easy.

    So I just wanna give you a little heads up.... It's pretty amusing that I reherniated my disc shaving my legs, and many of us got a kick out of the "Leg shaving fiasco" posts (if you search that term on the boards, my posts from that time will come up and you can read more details, should you choose. lol) because it's such a miniscule physical activity and such a simple, easy thing to have done so much damage. One small, slow, reach down and BOOM. That's all it takes. So please be careful! It could be anything!
  • I wanted to reply to all but didn't see such a function, oh well. Thanks to everyone who submitted their opinions and stories, they were very enlightening. As far as bending over goes, I don't do a lot of it right now but I do far more than I know I should. My son hasn't quite grasped the fact that Mommy can't always pick him up.

    haglandc: I only have about 8 months left in the military so I'm not sure what else I can get. I'm stationed at Eglin and it's near impossible to get an appointment to even see my PCM for at least a week. Very frustrating. Thanks for the heads up on the neurosurgeons, that makes a lot of sense now that I think about it. I see another doc on base this week to get my profile updated for my PT test so I'll see what other options I can pursue then.

    Again, thanks to everyone and I hope those in pain will find relief :-)
  • Hello Sbogart,

    Any way you can shorten the 8 months left because of a medical disability while serving in the military? If so, in my opinion, the sooner you can see nonmilitary doctors the better.

  • Since you are stateside you can request to get a second neurosurgery opinion from a civilian doc and TriCare will have a list of docs they approve and pay for it. Even your PCM should be able to put in the consult for this since you've already been to neurosurgery once already. Try a telephone consult with your PCM to discuss it. Your PCM will have to call you back within 24-72 hours.

    Are both you and your husband getting out around the same time? You will still be covered under him as long as he is active duty.

  • We're happy to have you onboard so that you can find the answers you seek and have the moral support from a community of wonderful people who relate. I really hope this can heal on its own, but if not, there are other ways to treat your problem. If you do have surgery, Lo's recommendation of having just a discectomy makes a lot of sense. Always go for the least invasive route when it comes to back surgery. That way the healing time is cut shorter and the trauma to surrounding tissue is minimized. I hope you get to feeling better soon, take care
  • that the most invasive route is best and that is NO surgery at all.
    Sbogart, before you seriously think about surgery please try intensive PT as well as acupuncture and other modalities. Hydrotherapy (aqua therapy) is wonderful as it helps you strenthen the core muscles without putting pressure on the spine.
    Acupuncture and PT jointly work really well as the ac/p relaxed the muscles while the PT works them.

    What ever you decide I hope things go well for you
    Blessings Sara
  • Ultimately I can start my terminal leave about 2 months early with the leave I have saved up. But all in all, I want to make sure I have everything taken care of as best as they can while I'm still covered by them before I rely solely on the possibility of disability. If that doesn't work, then I'll start seeing off-base people ASAP. Thanks :-)
  • Yeah surgery is definitely my last option if I can help it. We're most likely moving to MS after we get out so maybe we can get a place with a pool and I can do some stuff that way. I still have about 40 pounds to lose and 50 that would be ideal for me in order for me to be able to believe that I could feel painfree one day. We'll just have to wait and see. Thanks for the input.
  • I am brand new to this site. I am so sorry to hear about your pain. My suggestion is to go to physical therapy a LOT. I had flexible lumbar fusion Jan 2008 and here we are one year later and I am still in pain. I have developed bursitis in the hip and what feels like knots that are extremely painful. I am still going to physical therapy. Think carefully about any invasive treatment - especially since you are so young!
  • I'm sorry to hear about your problems. I think the main issue I'm dealing with is being overweight and the pressure that my spine is enduring day to day because of it. I need to lose a good 50 pounds to be where my back needs it to be. I've been to physical therapy twice, unsuccessfully, but I still work out on the bike and lift 10 pound weights everyday. It doesn't seem to be working too well but I haven't been following my diet plan to a T either. Hopefully we can all be pain free one day. Good luck to you on your search as well.
Sign In or Register to comment.