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Young,active,scared and need help please.

PaDavePPaDave Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in New Member Introductions
My name is Dave i live in Pa im 29 and i have a disc herniation at the L4-L5 level with sciatica pain. I have been working through this pain since being hurt at wwork in Sept of 2010. I have done all the PT injections mris xrays and the kick a$$ CT DISCAGRAM what a treat.
I have had 2 opinions so far. First opinion was a fusion rom my belly using a cage and screws.
My second opinion at UPMC Pittsburgh wass a disectomy with Dynesys stabilization.
I have a wife and two children, i live a VERY active life, with my kids and hunting and fishing. I am very scared and don"t know where to turn so thats why im here. Any advice is seriously appreciated. I am on Comp through AIG if that helps in any way. Im just looking for what are my best options as well as opinions. Thank you very much. Dave


  • Look around this site, there is so much information on this site. It will no doubt help you make your decision. You are the only one who can make the decision on surgery. I know that I researched a lot before each surgery that I had.

    Make sure that you are completely confident in your decision and your surgeon, if this means getting more opinions, then that's what you need to do.

    I'm sure that many of the people on this site will give you very good info. Good luck and may you be pain free soon.
  • You might want to collect a couple more opinions before making a decision. I gather that you have been told that surgery is necessary??

    There have been people on the board in the past that have had the Dynesis system. You can run a search on the board to see all, but I found one to get you started, if you are curious:


    Many people on the board have had a one level fusion. There are various ways of approaching it other than through the front (ALIF). Again, under the section of the board entitled "Back surgeries and neck surgeries" you will find many discussions of what various members have experienced.

    There are articles on the website that explain lumbar fusion.

    The first thing to determine is whether surgery is your only option. Some people are able to recover from a ruptured disc without surgery. It is less common than it used to be, but it is possible, depending on the individual situation.

    Fusion is a very big first step and, of course, once done, cannot be undone. I would suggest you do some research to learn more about what options are available, and see what another spine specialist might recommend. You might want to seek out a physiatrist (a doctor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation). This is a specialty that recommends a variety of modalities to help a patient return to functionality, short of surgery.

    If you have seen neurosurgeons, you might want to get an opinion from a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon, which is not to be confused with just any orthopedic doctor.

    As you say, you are young and wish to continue to be very active, so you need to really do your homework before proceeding. If surgery is your only option, then you will have a decision to make. There are many new techniques available to someone who has not had previous surgeries. Most new techniques maintain more spinal movement than the fusion with cage and pedicle screws. However, speaking from personal experience, a one level fusion does not limit motion or flexibility in the majority of people. The L4-5 segment does take the brunt of the spine's movement...so it will be important to find a procedure that will work best for you and your active lifestyle.

    There is lots of information on this website. I encourage you to take your time and familiarize yourself with all your options before reaching a decision.

  • Hi there, Sorry you are going through this.
    I think the other 2 folks have offered great advice. Don't feel as if you have to stop at 2 opinions. That's the blessing in the US, is that you can go find more opinions.

    I was 40 and active and scared. I believe I had no choice on my 1st back surgery which was a microdiscectomy (they cut away the herniated disc that was compressing the nerve at L5-S1). When it failed, I was told to try the surgery again or to fuse. I wasn't sure which was the right decision. Fusion scared me because afterall, it's 'breaking bones' and putting screws/rods in.

    So I met several doctors...SEVEN! Yep, I paid co-pay each time. I basically got 2 opinions that I mentioned above but what it helped me with is understanding more about each option as well as possible issues in the future. I also learned aobut the varying approaches to fusion.

    Start by taking a look at the links above.
    My diagnosis isn't the same as yours. I had herniated disc L5-S1 with DDD (Degenerative disc disease) and a bulging disc at L4-L5.

    I opted for revision surgery but I chose a doctor who does Minimally Invasive TLIF and TLIF (which is from the back...if he can he'll do them minimally invasive but was very clear that the only thing minimally invasive was the incision size and avoiding big cut through muscles. The fusion is still abig surgery).

    If you find surgery is the only choice, it's good to prepare yourself for the recovery so that you can get back to your active live even if you have to modify it slightly.

  • Thank u for your support, i have read through this forum for about a month now. I have read Shely's claim to fame and dont believe it the numbers dont lie. Secondly yes i am at the point o no return, surgery is the only option left, that article about fusion actually has me very interested since i am only at one level. I am going to be seeing probably atleast 2, probably 3 more Nueros and maybe a Ortho. I have scoured the net and just basically want stories and opinions. I have read on the orum back and neck surgery and the topics are alot to sort through since they are not direct.
  • One reason you want to be really careful at this point is that many of the "new" procedures cannot be done if the patient has had previous surgery.

    Depending on your situation, you might qualify for an artificial disc replacement. I gather the two doctors ruled out doing a decompression of the disc without fusion. Do you know why it is necessary to have fusion since you just have one level involved?
  • No gwennie i do not know why they want to fuse me. I haven't looked into decompression either. Im going to find out what that is and go from their. I have had no previous surgery i believe my second nuero wants the dyne because it keeps your mobility and their is always the option to fuse later.
  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. you have alot to consider. i see you are asking questions and doing your homework about what is going on with each procedure.. it can get crazy!! good luck with whatever you choose to do to relieve your pain...stop by anytime! Jenny :)
  • Hi Dave,

    You may want to visit a doctor at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. These are the some of the best spine surgeons in the country. Fusion sounds very drastic, and even though I'm not a doctor I've rehabilitated many people with herniated discs (without fusion). A discectomy is much more common and does less damage to your body. You should definitely get a second opinion.

    I have had the same exact problem, herniated discs in my lumbar spine, one of them at the L4-L5 region. I didn't get surgery because it scared the crap out of me and I wanted to try everything possible to see if I can correct this. I've learned from my own experience that sciatica can be cured, and disc herniation is actually a very common problem. A friend suggested that I try hot yoga to stretch out my body, especially the hamstrings and glutes (where sciatica hits), and amazingly that was what worked for me. I've been practicing consistently since and I feel great. I do get hit with sciatic pain once in a while these days, but nothing that I can't manage.
  • Dave as you have figured out you have some choices to make. I can't stress enough how important it is to write things down. By the time you get through your 3rd opinion you will be so confused. If you write down what each doctor said and any questions that you come up with you will be better prepared to make decisions.

    Good luck and let us know what you decide.
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