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So Confused....Help.

scaredofsurgerysscaredofsurgery Posts: 20
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all...I had my aquatic therapy today and for the most part it really felt good. I talked with the therapist and he believes that I am not a candidate for surgery...
He said he has had the same herniation and did the therapy. He has not had surgery and of course is back to his normal activity, even though he has had the worst herniation.
What do you all think? My surgeon even told me that if I wanted to cancel the surgery I can. What should I do? Of course I will go through all of my therapy and do my exercises from here on out. My therapist even told me that I could eventually get back to running.
What do you guys think?
Any thoughts are welcome.


  • Howdy Scared...

    Sorry, but my mouth is *still* on the floor! A therapist (in most cases) is not a doctor! And as such, if he isn't a specialist of the spine, I think his 'telling you, you're not a candidate' floors me! The decision is with you and your surgeon not the therapist. As a matter of fact, I would advise your prescribing doctor of this 'advice' given.

    Remember, most of our spine surgeries are 'elective', but that word is a misleader - many of us *have* to have said elective surgery to function. Wow! Sorry still shaking my head here. I don't have a problem if my therapist say....recommended me doing this or that exercise to 'see' if surgery can be avoided, as that is part of their job, but to tell a patient they 'aren't a candidate'....wow! Sorry, maybe I misread your post or meaning?

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • sorry scare
    Its a hard to hear everyones stories and of course pt's well I think they should just do what docs tell them you need done..and keep quiet..
    If you are on the fence about your surgery then you are not ready....call your doctor and talk it out more..
    Sorry bad memory I know I have chatting with you before..but fibro brain here
    What surgery are you having or not having??
    I have well over 6 diff pt's and some I have asked to pls keep their opinions to themshelves..
    I so agree with Brenda that person should not even be discussing this with you and definitly not sharing their herniation with you...none are the same..
    and nobodys the same...
    No one can make such a important desicion for you...if your not sure get more info and keep talking with doctor..
    keep us posted
    neck,bone spurs pain started 04, back issues and fusion l4,l5 06~hardware removed.
    good few yrs. 09 pain sharp, numbness feet,legs, diagnosed fibro, neurop. legs.lung issues.
    daily goal do good thing for someone.
  • It is not terribly helpful for anyone but a spinal specialist to give you advice on whether or not you "should" have surgery. Even though ten people might have a herniated disc at L4-5, they will all have slightly different situations, variations, etc.

    None of us on the forum are medical professionals and would not be able to advise you either. That being said, I can tell you that some herniations can and do heal on their own without surgery. I know people that have ruptured a lower lumbar disc and without any intervention other than physical therapy, have been able to heal and to resume running. It is possible...but it is not a quick fix! I believe it requires quite a bit of time, patience and a certain commitment to a lifestyle that allows the disc to heal without being further stressed.

    Have you had more than one opinion on your situation? I would think that you might want to try all conservative treatments prior to having surgery, as once you have surgery, there is no turning back. If physical therapy and time are not able to heal you, you can always have surgery...but this is a decision only you and your doctor can make, hopefully together.
  • In my eyes what your therapist told you borders on malpratice. If he did as you say he should be reported to your state authority. Sometimes some of the coversations betwqeen a patient and PT person are misunderstood so be sure of what he/she said. I am with Brenda as far as my jaw dropping and eyebrows raising. Did he do a full exam and is he certified to read films such as x-rays and MRI's?

    Ask yourself who is going to do the surgery, if needed, and who has 8+ years of education and training for these types of problems.

  • I think I am still in a state of shock!

    Are you sure he is a therapist? not an assistant or a tech?

    Therapist are never to make suggestions as to weather or not to have surgery. They are to carry out the plan of care which the doctor has to agree with and cosigned!

    I feel very confident the surgeon did not sign off on that!

    I am just so sorry! I honestly am dumbfounded and horrified! It is just unexceptable!
  • Hey there,

    I agree with others that it's a therapist's opinion. It doesn't mean it's not valid but it doesn't mean it is. It would be like us giving you an opinion. S/He is clearly giving you food for thought so you go back and speak more to your doctor.

    It seems as they are seeing an improvement and want you to be sure on the surgery.

    Have you only talked to the one surgeon?
    Can you get a few other opinions?

    Back surgery is elective b/c it's a very personal decision. I personally would be thankful you got another opinion that has you 'unsure'...why? because it means you still have unanswered questions.

    If you were sure, you would have said "Thank you, but this is the right thing for me".

    Good luck.

    Gentle hugs.
  • Brenda I think you hit the nail on the head. A Physical therapist is not trained to be giving surgical advice and diagnosis. Do you have lumbar issues? If so, I am suprised with a large herniation he would be talking much to you about getting back to running. I know some people do it but depending on what issues you have running is really hard on your body because of the impact(my opinion and experience and doctor recommendations). If you are really on the fence about surgery and are wondering if it is the best choice you might want to consider getting a second opinion from another SURGEON. I wish you the best!!
  • Yeah, I dont know why the therapist said that but I guess he just felt comfortable talking to me about it. Its such a hard decision to make about getting a surgery done, but I am just going to see how the therapy goes. I never knew that a disc could be reabsorbed by the body and or dry up.
    Is this something that is documented about herniated discs?
  • I don't know exactly what's wrong with your back, what the progression of treatments has been so far, etc., so I can't give you much advice. Then again, I'm not a doctor or spine specialist either! What type of surgery to you have scheduled and when is it? My experience with cancelling a surgery because I felt better was generally that the pain would soon return and then I'd be stuck waiting for another month or two because I had hesitated. Sitting around in pain when I knew that I could have been on my way to recovery was very depressing.

    Yes, there are instances when herniated discs can be reabsorbed by the body and, once they shrink enough to get off the nerve, the pain can go away. I think you could ask most of the people on here and they would say "no, that didn't happen to me." Two reasons for this: 1) most of us who are here had enough damage that we weren't likely to have a reabsorption; 2) discs with severe damage (annular tears, etc) aren't likely to be reabsorbed.

    I'd tell your physical therapist that your spine specialist should decide whether or not you're a candidate for surgery. If you're not in a great deal of pain and can wait, I'd try the therapy and see how far I got. Eventually, you will know whether or not it's going to help you. My opinion, after all I've been through, is that a life lived in pain really sucks. Although I had a pretty severe surgery, I'm glad I did it.
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hi Isteller....the surgery hasnt been scheduled as of yet. I do have an appointment at the end of this month for pre-surgery bloodwork. I was told by my surgeon that this procedure is my choice. I am in the water therapy now and do notice some positive change. I am going to complete my therapy and then see how I feel. If I dont advance in my recovery then I will do the surgery. The surgeon told me that its just a herniation and that he couldnt see a tear. So, I am hoping that it will reabsorb/dry out etc....My surgeon had recommended a MicroD of the L5-S1 herniation if my therapy doesnt help. And again he told me I could cancel the surgery if I wanted.
  • I can tell you that the odds are on your side! :)

    It is frequently sited that only 10% of herniations need surgery...I have often wondered how I got in those odds when I have never even had a winning lottery ticket....go figure huh! :)

    I am actually praying to be one of the 90% as I have already herniated the level above my fusion and I think having another surgery so close to my fusion and a 4th in 5 years would mentally destroy me.

    Hang in there! We are here poolside cheering you on! I, too, do aquatics and will be thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers! :)

  • I love my PT. He's a great guy with lots of experience. He is also very against surgery which I know and accept. When it's needed he has no issue but I guess he has seen lots of unnecessary surgeries in his years which we all know happens.

    Maybe the problem is in the way your PT gave you this advice. If he told you that there are alternative treatments that might help the disk to reabsorb which would eliminate the need for surgery then this is fine. If he gave you "medical" advice that involved surgery options in a way that bashed the surgeon then that's a no-no.

    The world of medicine is like the rest of the world. Every one has opinions. And we all know that opinions are like a$$holes... every one has one and each one is different!! Now you have to listen to all the opinions, think about the person who is giving the opinion and how much we value their opinion, and then make our decision.

    I think you are wise to finish out your aqua therapy. Maybe talk to the PT to see what they are suggesting and discuss this with your doctor. Many doctors believe that PT can resolve certain issues. Your doctor doesnt seem to be pushing for surgery so they would probably like to see you try everything possible.

    Good Luck and I can't wait to hear what happens.
  • That's why it's so hard on here for any of us to give you advice on which way to go. We all help give you insight on how we made the decision.

    I think several folks refer to hernations as the same thing when in fact the details are key.

    Disc protrusion, bulging disc, and annular tears.

    I had a tear...thus, quite different than you.
    Interestingly, I try to read the SPORT study b/c I think they talk about the subjects and whether or not they had tears or not. The success of the surgery is different on tear vs. protrusion.

    I wish you the best.
    I'm with some of the others that I let people give me their opinions but then I use them as tools to help me figure out what questions I don't have answered. Sounds like you have some time. Any thoughts about getting a 2nd opinion?

    I'll probably send you a buddy invite to follow your posts.
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