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New here - sciatica patient from Australia

thigh-grippertthigh-gripper Posts: 21
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in New Member Introductions

I am new here and very happy to of found this site exists. I'm suffering my third and most severe bout of sciatica currently and am looking at possible surgery after passing the 6 week point.

Anyway, it's great to find a place where people have some experience, info and support to share.



  • i'm from massachusetts, usa. it's 2am here. can't sleep too well. i'm glad you're on site. welcome. have you ever had back surgery before?
  • Hi Pete thanks for the welcome

    I haven't had back surgery previously so I'm really weighing up whether to go into it carefully and am pretty nervous. The pain though has been far more severe then my past sciatica and I'm currently fully debilitated. My options aren't looking particularly good from the MRI. I had problems on my left initially and then the right for around 8-10 weeks at the start of the year, I got this back to maybe 90% good but left work one afternoon 3 weeks ago and after driving a couple of minutes was suddenly in agony. I made it to a medical center and got an injection of Tramol I believe which got me home. During that night I attempted to get out of bed due to the pain and believe I ruptured the disc at this time. I was screaming in pain and think I began to go into shock, sweating, nauseous, blacking out and shaking. My wife calmed me down and got pain medication into me but I couldn't move at all for around 12 hours at which point I called an ambulance and got to an ER. I was kept in hospital overnight but have been limited to bed since only able to walk for around 1-2 minutes at a time with a lot of pain following. I've seen my specialist yesterday and have agreed to see how I am doing at the 6 week mark but he says surgery is highly likely due to the amount of material that's left the disc.
    I've had a lot of general back pain for around 6-7 years due to repetitive bending and lifting involved in my line of work. The sciatica though I've only had since October last year (on the left) and January this year (on the right). I'm fairly lost for what to do really, I was just married in November of last year and am not really financially equipped to not work for so long, but I just can't do much at all at the moment and not sure that it's going to improve without intervention.
  • sounds like surgery. i don't have experience with disk surgery but there are plenty of people here who have. once they all get up this am i'm sure they will be contacting you. boy you've really had to fight the pain. what kind of dr. is your specialist?
  • Thanks for the reply Pete, my specialist is an orthopaedic surgeon. Unfortunately I don't have a regular GP so I tend to get treatment at medical centers and see many different ones. Luckily when I had the problems in January one good GP referred me to see this specialist so I could get my foot in the door so to speak. This has meant this time I've managed to see him quickly whereas normally he is in demand and the waiting period for a consult is fairly long.
  • was it the specialists idea to wait 6 weeks. if you decided to do surgery could he do it right away. did he suggest any physical therapy.

  • I have had Sciatica for several years now and it can really push you over the edge with pain. I'm not too sure about the disc problems. I personally currently have 13 herniated disc and they alone are terrible to live with.

    I don't understand the 6 week period, your idea or the doctors? Before you go into any back surgery gather all the information you can. Do a lot of research and make an informed decision before you just agree to it.

    When I had my back surgery in 2002, I was at the point of either surgery or a wheelchair. It took doctors 10 years before someone decided to send me for an MRI. By this time my problems were severe. Surgery versus a Wheelchair at the age 42. Wasn't what I wanted to do, but didn't have many options.

    When I woke up from surgery my right arm and my left leg were completely numb. My surgeons reply "Oops"! No joke.... Over time and with a new doctors help I can use both the arm and leg but they are much weaker and can't bare the usuage that the other ones not affects can.

    Yes I am facing more back surgery, wouldn't even be considering it had it not been for the birth of my first grandchild last June. For her I will continue to do whatever it takes to keep me out of a wheelchair as long as possible. But I really hate the long hard road to recovery surgery requires.

    Good luck and please let us know how things go with you. I'm new here too, and look forward to getting to know you and everyone else.
  • I'm sorry to hear you've suffered it for so long AlwaysAchin. With the pain of 1 I can only imagine what you must be going through with 13 discs involved. It must take a lot to battle through that.

    With the 6 weeks, we sort of mutually decided to see how it's going at that point in terms of the nerve settling down a bit from the swelling. He's been fairly honest with me in saying where I'm at and not pushing me in to the surgery. He told me he couldn't say one way or the other what was certainly the best option for me and it's something only I can decide. He said some people can have small herniation and be in agony whereas he sees others with bulges the size of a tennis ball and somehow manage to get by with relatively low pain. We asked him if it was himself and it was his back what would he do, and he said personally he would wait until at least 6 weeks had passed, at that point if it wasn't improving he would likely have the surgery taking in to account the need to work for a living etc.
    He said the results of the surgery are generally very good and he has a very high success rate. It could be done as day surgery or one night in hospital and it probably could be done earlier if I am confident in the decision. I also don't have private health insurance and the waiting list for the surgery in our free public system could be anywhere from 3-5 years. That's also a bit of a consideration for me on how quickly I can have the surgery as I have to pay the whole sum myself. I do have relatives that are concerned and willing to loan me the money if needed which I'm very grateful for. He's sending me out a quote of all costs but at a guess it will be somewhere around the $6000 mark.

    I see reading peoples stories on here that like you the surgery is not always a success and can even make things worse. At the moment although my mobilty is mostly gone I am dealing with the pain fairly ok under medication for the immediate moment. I think I will look at the surgery at the six week point based on how well I'm doing then. I could find it's a case of being willing to try anything if I go backwards at all before then, or after.

    I had a lot of PT (and traction) when I had the problem in January and I found it very helpful. I am keen to try PT again this time but a few people (specialist, gp and ER physio) have told me at this point it's best not to start yet as it will aggravate the nerve further. I have basic stretches I can do in bed but was told only to go to the point of any pain and if present to stop. It's still very painful to do so I haven't been able to do much of it at all. Before I had the MRI and saw the extent of the problem I was hoping I could get a nerve block done just to get me good enough to start PT. My specialist now says though that a nerve block is unlikely to do anything and reading here it seems that's often the case.

    Anyway I'm going on a bit now and its becoming a big read. Congratulations on your first grandchild AlwaysAchin, I can see how that would be a big motivation for you to do everything you can. I hope things really start to look up even if that does mean the further surgery is needed ...and hope in the meantime things are as bearable as they can be for you both.
  • Where did you have the herniated disc? Is it the same one bothering you since the pain moved from one side to the other because I have opposite side symptoms? Anyway would a teaching hospital have more reasonable prices for surgery? Best wishes and hope you have less pain days. Charry
    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
  • it's great that you have a plan! you sound confident about it. and the pain now isn't as bad!
    5 years for government health! what good is it!
    i had rough day today. pain was all over. i have severe stenosis, DDD, facet hypertrophy, and foramin narrowing. 6 surgeries have not helped. i may have stimulator installed this august.
    Keep us posted on your progress. I have a good feeling that things will work out.
  • Thank you Pete, sorry to hear the day has been bad, it can only get better I hope. The wait in the public system is definitely crazy, they class the surgery as elective but it's not too "elective" if you're immobile and in pain for all that time. Unfortunately it's even worse in the area of painful dental problems here, they wont see you at all!

    Hi Charry.
    It is the same disc in question with problems both sides for me. It's the L5-S1 and sounds like you have the same or similar problem from your forum signature. On the left side it's only bulged and I've had no pain what-so-ever on that side since recovering from the initial bout. I had no scans or tests done that first time but in January when my right side became a problem I had a CT scan and the problem on the left was evident. From the CT report the left actually sounded (and looked) far worse then the right but all my pain at that stage was on the right side. I've had the MRI this time and the specialist says there appears to be not much difference in the condition of the left. The right bulge at the time of the CT although being very painful didn't seem particularly large but now it's actually teared and ruptured with the contents compressing the nerve. He believes some may of detached also but I can't remember the specific term he used for that. I have thought that possibly I have been correcting for the left and this is what has caused all my right side problems, I don't really know if that's possible but it's crossed my mind as a theory.
    I'm not sure if student hospital is possible without a lot of traveling for me. It is something I could look into though and thanks for the suggestion. The cost is extra disheartening as this specialist works both public and private hospitals and the public hospital I would go to after all the waiting (the one I attended ER at) would mean he'd be the same one doing the surgery. So I'm really paying purely to reduce the time frame.

    Anyway thank you both for the positive wishes, I have managed to sleep quite a bit today so things haven't been too bad so far apart from directly after waking up. We're going in to winter now here and it's starting to get cold, I know that can't be in my favor but I'm hoping my night continues at the same pace. I hope both of you have/are having a low pain evening too.
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