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Doctor suprised me today...need advice again

jsirabellajjsirabella Posts: 311
My doctor had told me to go back to him in January and just keep going with PT and meds. I have to admit things are getting much better and ofcourse the day of the visit is one of the best in months.

He thought I would have seen him sooner if any big flare ups. I explained that since I have learned there is no magic pill and my herniation is too small to operate that I just deal with it. I explained how things were getting better and the pain is almost gone in thighs but I have been getting very tight calfs and hamstrings to almost cramps. Also the lower back, hips and upper buttocks can get that "worm" like pain I call it...feels like a worm is crawling under my skin and a bit painful. I pretty much live with an ice pack and a heating pad. Driving is not the best and neither is sitting.

I than got up the courage and asked him his advice about the Targeted Disc Decompression and he knew of it and was impressed by the hospital and the doctor as he said he would only do it in this place. He said that he knew a few patients when he was in Boston who had it with success but because it is a new procedure only about 5 years old that the data is not really that good on it.

Surprisingly he said since I am now going on about a year that I should do it. I was kind of blown away as he was the big PT/meds guy and hated anything to do with procedures in my case but he said in this case he knows it is safe and the worst case scenario is I will be the same and no better. But in a good case it can quicken the process and get the pain down to probably nothing. He said my herniation does fit perfectly for this procedure. It is the right size for this type of procedure. You should have been done by now.

This has made me even more confused as I was going to try and ride it out but have to admit life is getting a bit much with constant ice/heat, can not really travel and at the gym I am getting stronger but no where even close to what I was. I am going to my PCP and see what she thinks.

Also I have another spine/otho who I may ask about it also. My biggest worry is the recovery time as it seems quite long as much as I have read for a micro d. I am going to ask the doctor more about the recovery and such. Also since this nerve has been stewing in one way or another for a year...worried about what will happen and will I go through the same issues of the nerve getting more pissed off before getting better.

I am really on the fence now...



  • It is always hard when we have to decide what to do for the best with limited evidence from other and although I would be positive I would be cautious of the desired results and expectation, we all enter invasive surgery with the same positive out look and everyone want success, this should not overcome reality and for many even when they have a procedure they do endure some pain and not none as they envisaged initial of even the expectation of the medical profess, one would expect then to be positive and supportive and everyone here those results you expect go with reality.

    I am trying to be positive and for you not to set your expectation so high that anything others than total relief is the only option.

    What do you want to do…..

    You are working hard toward improvement and together with your doctor we all wish you success.

    Take care and good luck.

  • Hi John,

    I went to my PCP and she said that I can not live on meds indefinitely as while you are not using alot they will eventually effect your blood pressure, liver or stomach.

    She feels if the both doctors feel this is the answer that you should give it a try as both say you will not be any worse off if no success and could have great results. The one thing for better or worse this site has shown me that there is a good chance that the procedure will not go as advertised. Honestly it has made me a bit apprehensive and in the past I would have probably went in without much thought.

    In some ways I feel I am doing this more for others than myself as I have learned to live while uncomfortable with my condition but my family and business really need more of me. Ofcourse the fact that I see improvement makes it even harder to decide.

    But so far 2 for 2 with the docs...I go back to the doctor who recommended the procedure next week and will have a bit of long list of questions especially his experience with the post procedure.

    Also my understanding is that this is not surgery as no cuts are made so much less invasive. The deciding factor seems to be that now I am coming closer to a year and so few see recovery after that long.

  • I think you'll find that surgeons/spine specialists will have varying opinions on any of the percutaneous disc procedures. I suppose it depends on whether they have bought into the procedure, invested in equipment, and in training, or not. I think many feel it is not really a solution, but more of a temporary fix.

    From what I have read about it, there shouldn't be complications and it should not limit your choices if you need further surgery in the future.

    You just need to be very careful in the selection of the doctor, and not get carried away by "happy stories" on the internet or other publications.

    I guess I would agree that if you have been faithfully attending to your situation for a year and are no better, it's time to try something else.

    I know everyone's situation is different so you cannot really compare one person to another. My husband badly ruptured a lower lumbar disc 17 years ago, the day before Christmas. He was in immense pain, but several spinal specialists told him they would not recommend surgery at that time...she he did PT. I think he was off work about 2-3 weeks, then went back. (office) At first he did not sit much...he would stand to talk on the phone--sometimes would close the door and lie on the floor to return calls, etc. Anyway, by about six months' time, he was pretty much back to normal...he was taking it easy and protecting his back, but he was fully-functioning. He has not had a relapse. To this day, he does his "back" exercises every morning, avoids those activities that he knows will cause a flare, paces himself on those activities he cannot avoid like raking leaves or shoveling snow. The only real concession he made was giving up playing ice hockey.

    I only mention this to show I know first-hand that a seriously ruptured disc can heal...but his progressively got better from the point of injury on. By the way, this was before steroid injections were commonly used. He never had any spinal blocks or injections...just the back exercises, patience and time. Mother Nature did the rest.

    I think it is a good idea to go back to the surgeon that is offering the procedure with your list of questions and really talk to him. Perhaps he will offer you the names of a couple patients who have had the procedure that you can call for information.

    Please let us know what you decide. I would like to hear a first-hand account of the procedure!

    Good luck ~~
  • JS,
    I have been on medication for 20 years and would agree that for those starting off an alternative strategy should be preferable, I was fortunate to have a professor support my condition and for me this has been the next best alternative, rather than additional surgery.

    Be aware that we are all individual going into procedures with unique symptoms, having a consensus view only relates to the success of the group and not the individual. Using others experience as a measure of your success is fraught with imponderables, we are looking for success we expect those who cater to our needs to be positive and realistic. My own failed fusion is not reflective of the majority and should not be used as an example of failure in others.

    Take care.

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