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New here - seeing a neurosurgeon for herniated disc

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I found this forum accidentally (ah, there ARE no mistakes!) and don't know where to begin.

I've had lower back pain for over 10-12 years. My primary at the time said it was sacroiliitis. Over the next 10 years I had several injections, but nothing ever relieved the pain.

My new doctor sent me to an ortho who ordred an MRI, and it showed a bulging disc pressing on a nerve root. She said "ABSOLUTELY NO ORTHOPEDIC SURGEONS!" and referred me to a neurosurgeon. I see him in 2 days.

I am afraid. I live and work 7 days a week on a small private ranch and train horses. Besides feeding, mucking poop, hauling hay bales, I ride almost everyday, and am starting my gelding for performance events. I am so afraid my boss'll get mighty pissed if I'm on my back for a few days. I really love my job and need it. And, i don't want to be off my horse for very long. I did read walking is the main therapy, so that's fine, I'll just lead him around!

My doc said that the new surgeries for spinal problems are very sophisticated now and not like 10 years ago.

Has anybody had this surgery? Microdiscectomy? And what should I expect? I'm probably not going to be riding the next day from what I've read! But, I can't take this pain any longer. It's always between a 8 and 10. Every day, all day, all night. I got so depressed last year, I went to the psyche hospital because I was so afraid I wouldn't make it one more day.

Sorry this is so long, but I just wanted to say hi, and ask for some information.

Glad I found you.



  • Hello TimmysMom,

    I had a microdiscectomy on sept 30 2008. I had all sorts of pain and was healing way too slowly to hold off surgery any longer. It was done. The healing time was 8 weeks for myself. They gave me instruction on recovery, and one of them was now riding roller coasters or mowing the lawn. It will be a while till you can ride. I drive for a living and I think it is slowing my healing and at times worsening some stuff. I bet your doctor will suggest PT. I hope they will give you traction. My condition had a tear in the ring around the disc and put a real hurting on me. I hope they can save your disc.

  • Hi Steph.
    Sorry you are in pain.

    Yes, advances have been made in procedures.
    However, there are still lots of practitioners that for whatever reason don't use them.
    You really have to be careful as surgeons are like any other profession: there are good ones, so-so ones, and bad ones.

    Are you willing or able to travel anywhere for treatment or just a certain part of the globe?

    Have you done any research on lumbar discs yet?

    Have you had a discogram yet?
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I had back pai for 15 years, was always shunned by doctors and given pain killers and told to keep active. Always worked with horses and ridden.

    My version of keep active was keep lifting those hay bales, pushing those wheelbarrows, grooming, riding, mucking, lifting, fixing, sweeping, lifting rugs, tack onto racks higher than my head, oh yeah i kept active alright!

    Well I fractured my spine 2 years ago in a fall off a horse, and went through all the back brace, pt etc etc to no effect (improved but not cured) In an mri of my back for the fracture site (L1) it was found that it was disintegrating, and the disc had pushed into the space, but more importantly to me my L5 S1 disc lower down had severely degenerated,with annular tear and herniation, completely dehydrated and collapsed. This was the long standing problem that I was working through. Ive had to stop working waiting for a fusion in that area (i work with 33 horses as yard manager) Im convinced that if this problem was picked up all those years ago it could have been sorted then while it wasnt so bad.

    So yes, your gonna miss more work than youd like, and have a break from riding but do the sensible thing and get it sorted properly NOW...dont get fobbed off like I did and make your future worse. Do whatever you can to save your job, get a temp in, take holidays whatever but sort your back or you will eventually end up never riding again.

    Best of luck, and a speedy recovery (but listen to the docs, and dont do things before you should like i did with my fracture, i was running the yard in a back brace - stupid)
  • Hi TimmysMom,

    I'm now recovering from my MD surgery and I'm loving the results. Although the recovery time will be long, but remember.. it's your back! One of the most important parts of your body. Don't rush back too soon

    I think there's a time in one's life where you do need to make lifestyle changes, but it depends on your age and how your post surgery healing goes.

    I went to an amazing Orthopedic surgeon that teaches at UCLA and also teaches the Neurology and Bio Mechanic dept. I'd like to state his name, but I think that may be against forum rules, so I'll leave it at that.

    My surgery took 30 mins - so yes, surgery today is really streamline with minimal collateral damage for a lack of a better descriptor.

    I was on tons of pain pills before surgery and one epidural. Now I'm totally off all pills and although have some sciatic pain because my nerve was compressed for 3 months, it'll most likely go away in 6-12 months (the nerve heals very slow).

    IF you are going for the surgery, check out the list of what to get before the surgery that someone put up on the forum. It;s a super great and complete list.

    As a short list of what to get:
    - Satin sheets or satin PJs to slip in and out of bed.
    - A toilet seat riser (you can get it a drug stores)
    - Croc shoes to easily slide in and out of.
    - Lots of videos or load up your iPod w/videos
    - And get someone to be at your beckon call for 24 hours for the first 4 days. Trust me on this one!
    - Also a baby monitor if they will be in another room.

    One more word of encouragement, my doctor said that he's worked on athletes at UCLA and they can go back to their sports including football, volleyball and such. But if they are not careful and get a 2nd surgery most don't go back to such physically demanding sports and you really wouldn't want to.

    Hope that helps. I'm sure others can add to my emails.
    Good luck. Oh - and get a second opinion!
  • I can relate to your story. I have 2 horses and own a horse property. I know your pain, I had a microdisectomy on Feb 9th. I can honestly say I'm still in alittle pain. I realize it's only been a week but I am feeling pain in places I didn't prior to surgery. I had terrible sciatica for almost two months, during that time I did conservative treatments, like 3 epidurals, physical therapy, some spinal decompression(traction).After all the conservative treatments I actually felt pretty good. I would have pressure in my right butt cheek and slight pain around my ankle, I don't know if this would have eventually gone away or maybe gotten worse, but I could have lived with it. my neurosureon also did a test to see how my reflexs and strength were. I was weaker in the right leg, he said this was due to pressure on the nerve. he explained that the surgery would relieve the pressure, so I took his word and plus my husband was really pushing me to have the surgery ( he thought surgery would fix it and I'd be right back to normal in 6 weeks time)I'm hoping thats what will happen and the pain I have now will go away. But what caught my eye with your story is the horses and the amount of work you do. I don't think you will be doing any of the things you listed for at least 6 weeks but really 3 months is more realistic. Your chances for reherniation are pretty good if your riding and lifting horse manure. One doctor told me I'd never ride again and the Dr. who did my surgery said to give it a year. I first herniated my disk two years ago , cleaning stalls and lifting horse poop. I never really had the sciatica that time and it healed on it's own but it took a year. This time was different. If I were you I would try some other treatments first. Some people swear by decompression therapy and other find relief with spinal epidurals. Just get a second opinion before you jump into surgery. I too would recommend a neurosurgeon, they are more skilled with nerves. Make sure your honest with the surgeon to what exactly you do for a living. Most people have no idea how much a bale of hay weighs. Good Luck and do whats best for you. Let us know what happens.
  • I'm sorry you have been in pain so long. I had a microdiscectomy in 2007 after I herniated L4-5 and L5-S1. I was told the pain in my leg would be gone once I woke from surgery and it would take 12 weeks to recovery. I sure wish it went that way. I woke up in a lot of pain and still had nerve pain in my leg. I stayed 3 days in the hospital and PT wanted me to go to their rehab ward but I said no. Home health care came out to my home for a couple weeks until I switched to outpatient therapy. I drove short distances by then but it was difficult for me. Things got worse a month later and I went in for a post op ct/myelogram. Later on I found out that I reherniated L4-5 and the L5-S1 disc was pressing on the nerve again. I learned that I had other problems going on as well and wound up having a 2 level fusion later on.

    I wish I had a happy ending and I don't want to discourage you in any way. Many advances have been made with back surgery so that there is less trauma and quicker recovery. I hope your surgery goes well and you have a quick recovery.
  • Hi TimmysMom

    I can relate to your story. I had a microdiscectomy (L4/5) 3 months ago and am a keen horse rider. Up until a few months ago, I was competing every weekend in dressage/eventing.

    My neurosurgeon was not very positive about me riding again but I was very very determined to keep going. My horse (and my riding) is my life.

    I made the decision to keep riding. I figured I didn't have much of a life left if I had to give up my horse. I made a plan for myself - I wouldn't get on again until I could 1) get on and 2) feel confident that I could sit if my horse happened to shy. I started riding again after 8 weeks, just starting off with walking initially, then building up to trot, then cantering. I am happy to report it's all gone a lot better than I thought it would. I am careful about what I do in terms of moving the heavy stuff associated with having a horse. I have a little trolley that I carry all my tack etc on. I haven't scooped any poop yet (tried it once, bad idea), and I don't lift hay bales yet. I figure it is not worth going through a disc prolapse a second time.

    I've found that having a mounting block is VERY useful for getting on and off. Also, the first ride I had after my op I was in tears because I was worried I would never ride again. I was so happy to be back on my horse! I was so frightened that part of my life was over for good. But I'm glad to report that I am back riding again, and I am making good progress. Apart from some leg weakness on the side I had my op, and still not being able to jump or do sitting trot (yet, hopefully that will come) things have gone well.

    Now I can get on and off by myself (still with my trusty mounting block) and I hope to be back competing in a few months.

    Don't give up - there is hope. :)

    Sitting in my chair at work causes me much more pain than riding.

    Best of luck to you.

  • I too had a disccectomy and am having problems with the same location. Going to see neurosurgeon at the end of the month, and want surgery (fusion). So tired of pain and problems. Can you share how the recovery was and how you are now please?
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    This is an old discussion created by a member no longer on the forum so I am closing it. You can search for articles on this subject or I suggest you create a new discussion using the link below 

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
This discussion has been closed.
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