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x ray and surgery, advice and info greatly appreciated

tb25ttb25 Posts: 14
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone,

I've been to my doctor with worsening back trouble.

My doctor and has talked about the possibility of a herniated disk, and she wants me to have x rays. She has also mentioned surgery as an option. Has anyone had surgery? are there alternatives? I really want to get as much information as I can, can anyone help.

I guess it's early days yet, but I'd like to know all of the options.

Thanks for all your support.



  • There's a lot of information on Spine Health about herniated discs and the treatments for it, both conservative and surgery. If you type in herniated disc in the search box at the top of the page, you will find a plethora of posts in regards to personal experiences.

    Here's a link to articles on back surgery http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/back-surgery

    As you will see, it is quite complex as to what type of surgery is done for the specific injury. The best thing is to let your doc help you with a good evaluation of your condition, and go from there. There are many things that can cause back pain and it is very important to make certain you are getting the right treatment for the specific problem that you suffer from.

    Don't just assume herniated disc. Make certain that you get a proper diagnosis and treatment specific to your needs.

  • I'm guessing that you are seeing your primary care or family doctor at this point. Would that be correct? X-rays will not provide much information. Ask you doctor about getting a MRI. If you find you are having disc issues you will be better off being referred or calling up yourself and making an appointment with a fellowship-trained spinal specialist. This can be either an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon who devotes his practice to issues of the back and spine.

    You can waste a lot of valuable time going to a generalist if your back problems are more severe than a pulled muscles or back strain/sprain. If there is a mechanical reason for your back pain, I highly recommend going to see a spine specialist. Don't be scared off by the "surgeon" in their title. Spinal specialists will first try conservative treatment to manage your specific problems, and surgery will only be proposed as a last resort, when all conservative treatments have failed.

    There are hundreds of informative articles and videos on this site. Here is one that describes various sources of back pain:


    Good luck in your search for answers.

  • Hi Trudy,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around there are many articles and knowledge to be gained here. I think your doing the right thing by working with your primary doctor first. Your primary should be able to order all the appropriate test. Sometimes waiting to see a spinal specialist can take a long time. I would wait and see what the x-rays show and then your primary may even want a MRI as well. It is possible they may need to send you out. But it also maybe something they can treat. Did you do anything specific to cause your back pain or did it just come on? What type of pain are you having and where is it located? Keep in mind after a certain age everyones films will show some defects just one of those things that go along with aging. Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Keep us posted on what you find out. Take care.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084

    Hello, and welcome to our group.

    You are a LONG way from being able to discuss surgery. There are hundreds of different types of back disorders and just as many treatment possibilities.

    f you are seeing your primary care physician he/she may start with an x-ray, but that only shows the bones and the space in between the vertebrae. Do some research on the spine (what it looks like, from top to bottom) and after the x-ray it may be wise to go for an MRI. Then, if the results indicate a problem, a possible consultation with an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon and/or Neurosurgeon. Now that doesn't mean you are headed for surgery, or not, but an OSS or NS can review your test results fully and do a complete examination of you and render a diagnosis and treatment plan. That may include physical therapy, referral to pain management, medications, minor pain management procedures (epidural injections), etc.

    Let us know what happens after you see your PCP and if your symptoms are continuing with no improvement I recommend discussing the option of an MRI with your doctor which shows so much more of the other structures in the body.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I agree with Tamtam, don't put the cart before the horse. Working with your GP to start sorting through what may or may not be causing your pain is a smart move. Specialists are funny when it comes to patients being referred to them without first having gone through some fairly simple treatment protocols and examinations that your GP can do.

  • Hi Trudy. Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I have to agree that you're a long way from even thinking about surgery. When I started having muscle spasms in my back, I saw my GP and she sent me for x-rays. She said it looked like I had some problems with my neck and she wanted me to try PT. So, I went for six weeks and got some help at first, but then everything started going downhill again. I called my GP and told her and she sent me for an MRI. Only after looking at my films and reading the report did she tell me to find a spine surgeon, that things were worse than she had seen with just the x-ray.

    I would think it's best to stay with your GP for now and let her decide what the next step is. You don't need to pay the big bucks just yet, there are a lot of conservative things to try before running to a surgeon. Surgery is absolutely the last resort.

    Take care,
  • Thanks for the great feedback guys. I think I'll ask about MRI. It's so great to get this support. I'll keep you posted.

  • hi Guys,

    Thanks for all the great feedback and support you've been giving me.

    In the light of what you all said I really pushed for getting an MRI, and one has been arranged.

    I'll keep you posted.

    I did some research about, x rays and was rather scared at the prospect of a discogram. I know that this may come up. What are people's experience of this procedure. Sounds horrible.

    on another side issue, apart form this great site I've also been getting some great info from ehealthforum.com. Don't know whether that helps anyone.

    Thanks again.

  • I had a discogram a few months ago...it was quite painful, but I knew I would get answers. And I did...I am going April 2nd for an ALIF on L5-S1. I have been having back problems for a long time now and I am glad I am having something done about it, finally. When I first hurt my back my PCP said it was pulled muscles...I was treated for that for over a year and I asked for an MRI and he sent me to PM and he did the epidurals and they made the pain worse. So here I am just waiting for "the day". Hope you get answers to get relief. I was told on here repeatedly to make sure I get more than one opinion...I got 3 and they all said I need the surgery. I feel satisfied with the decision to have it done because I can no longer live with this pain. Good Luck!
  • Hi guys,

    I had an MRI two weeks ago, and I'm stil waiting for the results. Is this normal?

    Hope you are all well. Thanks Tamara for the info on discogram. It's put my mind at rest should I need one. I hope not though.

  • Trudy they should have the report withing 24-48 hours. However most places will only send the report to the doctor who ordered the test. Once you have spoken with your doctor you can get a copy of the films (or a cd).

    Call your doctor. I bet it's sitting on someones desk.

    Let us know what you find out. Also maybe I missed it but what happened to cause your pain? As many of us have learned there are often several things that can cause the same type of pain and sometimes it is more than one that is actually to blame. So knowing more would help someone here identify with you and offer their experiences.
  • I didn't hear from my PCP about my MRI results for almost a month, but he doesn't do very good about getting any results to any of my doctors. I called and they mailed me the results and I had them to take to my PM doctor. But when I had it done they said they should have the results within a few days. Hope you don't have to wait too long!
  • Hi Guys,

    Thanks for your amazing support and info. I've eventualy managed to get the results of my MRI and it didn't show anything.

    My Dcotor is now saying that I may need a discogram. Is this normal? I'd like to avoid it at all as it seems very painful. Can I manage the pain somehow, I've had so much of it recently.

    Hope you guys out there are as well as can be expected.

  • Which doctor is telling you that you need a discogram? If it is not a fellowship-trained spinal specialist, I would not do it. I am under the impression that your PCP has been ordering tests thus far. I apologize if I have missed a step here!

    Discograms are a somewhat controversial test and most spinal specialists avoid them unless there is no other way to determine where the pain is originating.

    If you are continuing to have pain, now might be the time to make an appointment with a spinal specialist. They can organize your conservative treatment, referring you to the appropriate physical therapy program, setting you up with a pain management guy or a physiatrist if you will need some steroid injections, etc.

    Ii think it is always a good idea for anyone who has experienced back pain more severe than simple muscle pain to have in mind which spinal specialist he/she would go to if an emergency developed. Particularly if you are flirting with a lumbar disc problem, you never know when it might rupture and cause problems that would deem it an emergency. So, to me, it makes sense to have someone you have seen previously so you can get in more quickly, or if at the ER, you can say "Dr. X is my spine surgeon." That way you won't end up with the resident on call or whatever....

    Just for your information, a discogram is not automatically requested if you have back pain. It is not "next" after having a MRI. It is only relevant for certain spinal issues...and you want to be sure there are no other ways to get the desired information before agreeing to have one.

  • Hi guys, and thanks to Gwennie for the feedback.

    I'm trying to arrange to see a specialist. I've heartened to hear what you say because I'l like to push to get physio

    Anyway I'll keep you posted.

  • your doctor should be sending your for a MRI not xray.. you are gonna want to see a spine specialist, orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon. I had a bad herniated disc and it required surgery. An orthopedic surgeon and neurosurgeon did the surgery together. I am 6 weeks post op and feel VERY good (knock on wood). Good luck!
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