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Just started spinal decompression! Wish me luck!

Mike86MMike86 Posts: 27
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:39 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hello everyone.

I was diagnosed an L4/L5 herniated disc a year ago. The pain cooled off after a couple of months of inactivity and some homepathic injections, but it came back a month ago when I started going to the gym again (although I never put any pressure on my back... weird). The pain came back stronger than ever, so I travelled to New York to see one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the US. Given the new MRI, I have degenerative disc disease and a herniated disc in L4/L5, plus a couple of issues in L5/S1. He recommended Epidural Steroid Injections before considering surgery (which he said would be a micro-discectomy, and if that doesn't work, an Artificial Disc Replacement). Given that the injections are seldom part of the solution (they only treat symptoms), I decided to go for alternative treatments before I give them a try. I did some research and found a machine called the DRX9000 in my country (Costa Rica), which does Spinal Decompression, and I've decided to go for it. It claims to stretch your discs and create a vacuum effect thus pulling the herniation back in... sounds too good to be true but I'll try anything at this point. I had to go through another orthopedic surgeon for an 'approval process,' who basically determines if you have a herniated disc or not and if you'll be a 'candidate' for the treatment. The doctor from Costa Rica diagnosed the exact same thing the one from New York did, except this one charged $60 and the one from New York charged $600. He said surgery shouldn't be an option at my age (23).

The whole procedure consists of 20 sessions spread in 4 weeks or more, and costs $2800 (they're submitting the insurance claim in the hospital to see if they accept it.. I have IHI BUPA). They give you a huge belt which will have to be worn ALL THE TIME (except for showers of course).

On the 1st of December '10, I had my first therapy session! Conclusion: kind of painful, but in a way relieving.
It's hard to describe. You're strapped on to a machine for 30 minutes which varies the load (decompression) every minute or so. I started with 80lbs today, which will supposedly be increased in increments of 5 lbs every session.
Again, they gave me this HUGE waist band that carries an ice pack in the back. I'm supposed to wear it all day for the duration of the treatment (soo I guess it's 30 days or so). I also got electro shock therapy after the session. They told me I can't do ANYTHING for the duration of the treatment... like nothing... no sex, no carrying stuff, no nothing! I guess I can handle it! I'm supposed to be getting physical therapy later on in the treatment.

Anyways, I'm optimistic. I'm hoping this will help me out, because I can't stand the pain.. it's becoming unbearable.

Now, I won't be posting every little update, but I am keeping and updating an excel worksheet with EVERY single detail regarding the treatment, including:
-DATE
-TREATMENT ROUND
-POUNDS OF DECOMPRESSION
-PAIN LEVEL BEFORE THE THERAPY
-PAIN LEVEL AFTER THE THERAPY
-GENERAL PAIN THROUGHOUT THE DAY
-ADDITIONAL THERAPIES GIVEN
-AND GENERAL COMMENTS
(ALL UPDATED DAILY)

I'll be posting the file as soon as I'm done with it, unless anybody wants to see how things are going throughout the therapy, in which case I can post the most recent update or have it sent to your e-mail. In any case, here's the latest update (round 4/20): http://i.imgur.com/tOgIh.png

Good luck to everyone, but most importantly, WISH ME LUCK PLEASE! Round 5 is next monday.

Mike

P.S. Round 4 was painful as hell! But heck it felt really good afterwards.
Successful ADR patient with a Spinal Kinetics M6-L on L4/5. Details, photos, surgery pics here: http://healingmyback.blogspot.com
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Comments

  • Hi Mike,

    I almost hate to read some of the situations in this forum. But, once I read one; it drives me to read another. It seems like compassion and the need to help kind of consumes me. I just joined this forum myself and am learning my way around. I even have some pain relief options, that I know about and am marketing one online, but the cases on this forum are really much more than I anticipated when I first joined. Many situations seem over whelming and it makes a person feel helpless while trying to help.

    Although I have suffered a serious back injury and have suffered from back pain; I have managed to get it under control for the most part. I know my pain did not excel to the level that you're experiencing. I have great empathy for your suffering and will be praying for your relief.

    I will get information together for some natural options. One I included in my signature when I first joined the forum. Another one that I remembered involves restrengthening the fluid membrane of the tissue around the nerves and the disc walls. I know the muscles have to be strengthened; because that is what I had to do to get and keep my back pain under control.

    I will check back on your situation and hopefully have more information for you, that may be of help.

    I pray and hope you the best outcome in this situation. I went through 21 weeks of physical and rehabilitation therapy; though it's not the exact same, I relate to your situation. It was about 3 years for my recovery of about 80%, where I'm at now. Yet, my situation does not seem to compare to your level of pain.

    Stay tough, you have a great fight ahead. But, you can do it. Keep in mind the end result as you go through each step. It will give you strength to endure as you progress.

    I had no one to effectively support me in a realistic manner, as I went through my recovery. My family didn't really understand or even believed that I was suffering that much. I guess mainly because I hid it from them. I have been a very independent person and didn't want everyone making a big deal over my pain.

    Anyway, from what I have read so far in this forum, there will always be someone who will read your story and have some good words of encouragement and comfort to say. Stay in touch with this forum. I think it will help you mentally to cope with your determination and ability to overcome.

    I certainly anticipate being as much help as I can to others, as often as I have time to come here.

    God Bless you Mike,
    Ken

    God Bless
  • Ken,

    Your words are truly inspiring. It's things like these that I wish my family would support me with, but they too have a hard time understanding. However, I've come to realize that all I want is a little bit of attention and sympathy, so I, too, have started digressing on the subject.

    Yes, I am too young to be going through this, but I guess it's an experience I have to live with, and it makes me respect everyone older than me going through any sort of pain. It certainly has changed my life, and I'm starting to feel a certain level of responsibility towards others in informing them on prevention methods for these problems.

    Again, thank you! I'll keep you posted on the progress.
    Successful ADR patient with a Spinal Kinetics M6-L on L4/5. Details, photos, surgery pics here: http://healingmyback.blogspot.com
  • The DRX9000 machines/marketing are somewhat controversial as many do not benefit from them.

    I tried other machines that do the same thing and I had limited success. I bought the Saunders hometrac lumbar traction unit for cheap on eBay.

    image

    I use it about 3 times a week and I love it. I also benefit from an inflatable belt made by disc disease solutions.
    image

    Good luck I hope it works for you. If it doesn't, you can keep getting traction at a much less expensive cost like I did.

    -----------------------------
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • i dont want to rain on your parade but i think that with out surgery you are wasting your money
    STRAKER
  • Mike86...

    I really do hope that the system works for you but please be careful as I have learned the hard way that people will take advantage of you especially when you are in pain. I have learned when you are in pain that you are willing to pay almost anything when someone says they can heal you.

    My experience was with a chiropractor as I was using a cane after a few treatments and than he puts a document infront of me telling me if I go for this many treatments that I will be better. Ofcourse in that much pain I sign for all the treatments, use them or not.

    I am saying this as from research the system you are using is no different than an inversion table. You may want to try that before all the money. Last I really would go with your doc's advice of epidural, maybe 2 in a row than PT.

    -js
  • Hi jsirabella.

    You're completely right. I've come to realize that I'm willing to pay anything, for anything, and in return for nothing. But at this point in my life, my parents will be paying for the treatment, and maybe even my insurance company.

    In any case, if the pain persists, which is highly probable, I will be getting the epidurals next month. An old friend told me not to get them at all costs, but then, he is kind of olf-fashioned and doesn't really believe in medicine. I DO.

    Thanks for the advice! I'll let you know how it goes.
    Successful ADR patient with a Spinal Kinetics M6-L on L4/5. Details, photos, surgery pics here: http://healingmyback.blogspot.com
  • I know of some people who had bad experience with them but overall I believe many more have had some success in the help to relieve pain. It is what you do with that time that it relieves the pain that is important in terms of doctor's advised therapy.

    In my personal experience the first did very well by bringing down the pain a bit. The second not so much but through alot of PT I can say I am at more than half my former self and hoping to continue in that pattern.

    Good luck and keep us posted...

    -js
  • Hello everybody. I had my 7th treatment today. Things are definitely getting better, but not enough to let me sit comfortably. I've noticed that sitting down is my achilles heel, so I avoid it at all times (I also saw an article on nbc about sitting down being the body's worst enemy.. this definitely convinced me to avoid it as much as I can).

    Anyways, here is my progress so far: http://i.imgur.com/SHwFM.png

    Definitely improving! But here are some observations:
    -Pain during treatment is absolutely dreadful. It's not the dangerous sort of pain, but more like a 'there has to be pain in order for things to change' kind of feeling.
    -I keep wearing my brace at all times
    -I was told that during treatment #10, I will start physical therapy.

    I'll keep you posted!
    Successful ADR patient with a Spinal Kinetics M6-L on L4/5. Details, photos, surgery pics here: http://healingmyback.blogspot.com
  • Looking forward to your progress and wish you the best of luck. I have several herniated discs, degenerated discs and spinal stenosis. I have two recommendations for surgery and I am not wanting to go down that road. I am looking into the same procedure your doing except this is on the SpineMed table rather than DRX9000. The worst part is insurance will not cover this treatment but they will cover a $150,000 surgery which makes no sense to me at all. Again, I hope this treatment works for you and keep us posted.
  • Hi there.

    Thanks for keeping up. Things were going REALLY well, pain was finally manageable until I had this friend of mine drive like a mad men on our way back home from the treatment. This really screwed me up and am back in pain. Although this afternoon's pain is easing, I'm starting to realize how easily I can fall back into pain. I am going to be more careful now.

    This weekend I'll be doing a lot of swimming (30-45 minutes a day). Work will be limited to a 30 minute visit to the office without ever sitting down (except driving there which is 10 minutes.. that's where I will be picking up a friend of mine that takes me to the clinic and back.. it's a long ride and is very uncomfortable in traffic). As I am writing this, pain is at a 3.. which is heavenly. But I am lying down. Standing up I get a 4 or 5. Sitting down I get a 6. Extended sitting I get an 8.

    My progress so far: http://i.imgur.com/p3rVn.png

    I'm hoping next week will be the winner. I've started swimming as a supplement to the treatment, I'm leaving work for good, although I'm not actually quitting... just resting more and doing more swimming. We'll see how this develops next week, probably the most important week for treatment.

    As always, I'll keep you posted!
    Successful ADR patient with a Spinal Kinetics M6-L on L4/5. Details, photos, surgery pics here: http://healingmyback.blogspot.com
  • Hello everybody, and greetings to all of those nice people that have been following my updates all along.

    So I finished my 14th treatment round this Friday. I've got 6 more to go. However, I'm going back home for the holidays so I'll be spending 10 days without the decompression treatment. I think I should be fine. In any case, I've reached the point in the treatment that calls for 2 days in between treatments. I've also bought an inversion machine so that I can stretch my back during the holidays.

    Here are the latest updates: http://i.imgur.com/2Xb0N.png

    As you can see, pain is definitely getting better. I'm still taking things very easy and I'm being careful about what to carry and what not. I'm actually enjoying therapies now, they are finally painless! It feels great now! After each session, I go back and lie down in my bed for a few hours. Helps with the trauma of being stretched like a rubber band. I can then roam the house freely and painless. The next morning, i go swimming (i drive there!) for half an hour and it feels great on my back. Then I go to work for an hour and never sit down. Then I go to the treatment session and start the cycle over again.

    Sciatica pain is there constantly, at a level 3/10.

    I sat down at a restaurant for two hours yesterday, without a drop of pain. But that might be because I was drinking wine and actually got drunk, which numbs your nerves.

    I am probably going to be doing stem cell therapy in Colorado after this. A little expensive but it might be worth getting given that I want brand a pain level of 0 and some healthier discs.

    Thanks for keeping up! If you have any questions, send me a message or post it here.
    Successful ADR patient with a Spinal Kinetics M6-L on L4/5. Details, photos, surgery pics here: http://healingmyback.blogspot.com
  • That's great and I'm happy for you! I really wish Insurance would cover these treatments so I could try it. As it is I couldn't afford treatment right now. Best wishes and hope you have a complete recovery. Take care. 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
  • Mike, where are you? Have you continued treatment?
  • Hello everybody. Sorry for my absence here online, but I am very much active in the treatment. Here's the issue at hand:

    I went home for the holidays after the 14th treatment. As you can see from the graph (http://i.imgur.com/mNAg4.png), I was doing VERY well leading up to the 14th treatment. When I arrived home, I had a pain level of 0! I'm telling you guys, I had never been happier in my life. I spent the next 14 days pain free and without a worry. I obviously avoided carrying any bags and stuff, and i did swim a little bit. But after a while I started to forget about the issue. A few days before I came back to re-start the treatments, I started playing Wii Sports Resort with some family members... well, to make things short, I was jumping and swimming all over the place until I felt a tear in my back. THE DAMN PAIN WAS BACK AND WORSE THAN EVER!

    I felt like crap, completely depressed and hopeless. I thought to myself that I needed to start ALL OVER AGAIN. Which is basically true.

    I can tell you though, that the treatment definitely works. If I had maintained a steady level of exercise and activity, it would've succeeded! That it worked for me is a different story.. but that was because I felt over-confident and hadn't started the back-strenghtening exercises.

    I started the treatments again and haven't felt any real improvement. Pain is on and off but I'm moving on to some other treatments now (Regenexx stem cell therapy).

    Oh and good news, my insurance company (IHI) covered the whole thing ($2800 for 20 sessions).

    If you have ANY questions, let me know. I'd be glad to answer them!

    As a summary, the thing definitely works really well.. just follow all the instructions carefully. AND DON'T BE A HERO AND GO HORSEBACK RIDING AFTER YOU START FEELING GOOD. I certainly learned my lesson. Would I do the treatment again? Yes, and I probably will.. but AFTER the stem cell therapy and as a supplement to it.
    Successful ADR patient with a Spinal Kinetics M6-L on L4/5. Details, photos, surgery pics here: http://healingmyback.blogspot.com
  • Awww man. Those 14 days sound great.
    For me it was 2 months. I had been doing decompression therapy same as you. Did a few weeks worth and I was pain-free! It was frickin great.

    Then the doctor told me to start doing stretches to loosen up. So I did them. He said "lay down, and bring your knee to your chest, hold, release and do the other one." That's when it happened. Pow! Pain again. Sux.

    So keep letting us know how you're doing with the pulls. Best wishes, man.
    -----------------------------
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I took a look at my most recent MRI. It looks exactly the same as the one before the spinal decompression treatment. It didn't do SQUAT for me.

    Sorry guys! It was all just an illusion for me.
    Successful ADR patient with a Spinal Kinetics M6-L on L4/5. Details, photos, surgery pics here: http://healingmyback.blogspot.com
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