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MRI Results - Surgery Recommended



  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    You may want to make sure you get at least 2 consultations with a spine surgeon (orthopedic spine surgeon and/or neurosurgeon) as surgical method opinions can vary. Read up on the spine doctor you will be seeing. Look into his/her record with the state, specialty, education, etc. I often feel better when I've read their record with the state and know where they went to school. Sometimes it's a topic I can bring up to make the visit more personal "I saw you went to XYZ College, I actually lived about 3 miles from there when I was younger".
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
    edited 07/09/2012 - 8:17 AM
    Go to the main page of the website, not the forum. Look down to the bottom right of the page and you'll find links to good articles. For example.

    degenerative discs -

    broad based protrusion / extrusion -

    read these just cause -


    Get educated on the basic terms and what they mean so you can have an intelligent discussion with your doc. Just don't let it overwhelm you. Just understand the basics.
  • Thanks Z06. I have read most, if not all of the articles on this site. My doctor did explain the herniation and sciatica to me. I guess I was just looking for more information and comments from someone who has experienced the same diagnosis as me. For example, is 6 mm a lot or out of the ordinary? I see I wasn't very clear in my first post. My doctor, who has been practicing for 35 years, said this was the worst case she had seen - not including back injuries caused be an accident. When reading the site info, I was assuming I'd be having a discectomy. I'm hoping that's it, as it sounds like this may be the least invasive of back surgeries. I've already started short term disability - my doctor pulled me out of work 3 weeks ago, so I'm ready to get the show on the road and start working towards reducing this horrible pain!
  • SpineAZ gave you some very good advice. It can sometimes be very important to get more than one opinion and check the surgeons record with the state, specialty, education, etc.

    We are not allowed to tell you what your MRI looks like or try to read it on this site, though someone may send you a personal message if they feel they have information that might help you. I can't help with those, as I am not medically qualified.

    I don't know your symptoms, age, what caused your pain, how long it has been going on, your medical history, ect., so even though 6mm may or may not sound out of the ordinary to me, it would really be of no significance in your own situation... but, like I said somebody else may very well have more/better answers for you.
  • Thanks Robin. Here's some more information about me in general. I am 43 years old. I started feeling above average back pain early this fall. Other than a stiff back once in a while from too much activity, this was the first time I had experienced back pain for no apparent reason. In November the pain seemed more intense when I would stand up straight - the pain would shoot down the back of my left leg. On December 18th, when I rolled over to get out of bed, I experienced very intense pain in my back. The pain forced me to stay off of my feet throughout the weekend, but slowly tamed down and became tolerable. The pain was no longer in my lower back, but in my right hip, leg and foot. I also started experiencing numbness in my calf and the right side of my foot. On December 20th I met with my doctor for the first time. She did some range of motion tests and assumed the pain was coming from the L5-S1 area and ordered some pain meds (800 mg Ibuprofen 3 x daily and Flexeril 2 x daily) and referred me to a physical therapist. She also diagnosed me with sciatica at this time and said if the pain did not decrease or got worse that she would order an MRI to confirm her findings. I did PT for around 3 weeks and on January 9th when I got up to get out of a recliner, I apparently twisted the wrong way and the pain was so intense that I ended up in the ER for about 6 hours as they tried a number of IV meds to relieve the pain. At that time the Dr. ordered 15 mgs of Oxycodone every 4-6 hours in addition to the other meds. I had the MRI the next week and from that point on I have been unable to work due to the extreme pain. I am also not able to stand for more than a few minutes without experiencing extreme pain and I can only walk about 10 to 15 yards at a time before I have to sit down. My doctor referred me to a spine clinic in Mpls. MN. (per my request) that is said to be one of the best in the state. The radiologist that read my MRI would not recommend cortisone injections, as he felt the disk was too far gone and the damage to my nerves needed to be treated surgically. I have researched the surgeon I am meeting with this week, and he has a very high success rate and comes highly recommended.

    I realize that medical advice should not be given on this forum; I was just hoping someone would have had a similar diagnosis and would be able to offer me some personal advice or share their experiences with me. I will share what the surgeon's recommendations are after my visit.

  • Your pain sound like mine did a few years back. I had surgery but it failed> I ended up with damage nerves. The only thing that help me was a SCS unit.

    Just remember I am not a DR. Only your Dr will know for sure.

  • Welcome to Spine-Health. It's really strange with spine problems in that there really are rarely two problems that are alike. There's so much going on with the spine and so many things can happen, that I doubt there is someone with your same problems.

    With that said, I can appreciate the stenosis pain. Severe is the key word there - I also had severe stenosis at L4/5 and couldn't stand for more than 5 minutes and couldn't walk very far either. My only relief was bending over if I was walking or sitting when I could. It also caused pain in my lower back, hips,and down the back of my legs to my knees, and was exacerbated by facet problems.

    My cervical issues were like yours in that it was a sudden onset, very serious, and after useless PT, had no choice but to have a 3-lvl fusion.

    So that's about all I can say - I have had some similar situations to yours. I understand what you're looking for, someone to commiserate with because being new to spine problems, it's very scary and you have no idea what to expect. I think you'll feel better after talking to your surgeon, if only because you'll then have a plan of action.

    One suggestion: make sure you have complete confidence in your surgeon. You might like his bonifidies, but if you have a negative gut feeling about him, get another opinion. I happened to love my surgeon immediately and have been with him since September 2008 and he's done both of my surgeries. He also manages my pain, as I'm having problems above my cervical fusion.

    Take care of yourself and please do let us know what your surgeon says. I hope it's a good meeting.

  • Jim,
    Thank you for your comments. What is a SCS Unit?
  • Thanks Cathie -

    Yes, you are correct about me looking for someone to communicate with. Last week my foot felt like it was wet...was also very cold...of course it wasn't wet. I freaked out and almost called my doctor. Then I came on here and found that others had had this same sympton. Talk about relief!

    Thank you for the tip on the surgeon. The spine center that I'm going to has 5 different locations and 10 different surgeons, so if I'm uncomfortable with this one, it may be easier to switch to a different one.

    Your experiences with surgery and pain sound very painful...when I hear the words rods and screws it scares the daylights out of me! I'm very curious to find out what the surgeon is going to do with me...I'm praying that whatever it is, I will wake up feeling 100% better. It seems that so many others have.

    Thanks again!
  • 6mm is not "alot" - BUT if in the wrong direction - it can be. In your case going backwards and impingement on the nerves in the thecal sac sounds pretty serious.
    You will usually find that if you go to one "center"; you either won't be very welcome by the second doc or will get the identical opinion - they will not contradict each other within in a group. What you will find in these groups is that there is usually a pain doc/injecting doc, one with a niche maybe in ADR;s,, one more fusion oriented etc. Find a second unrelated neuro or ortho spine surgeon for your second opinion. Good luck.
  • Thank you so much for your reply. I'm starting to feel some numbness in the left foot and pain in my upper left thigh. I've also been having a hard time "feeling" when I'm urinating. I feel in my bladder that I have to go, but when going I can't feel that I'm done. I called the center and they didn't seem to think I needed to come any sooner, but my doctor felt the surgeon would treat me as an emergency...that being said, I'm not sure if I will have the time to meet with two surgeons. It took 3 weeks to get into this one! I'm at the point now where I think I'd let my neighbor operate and it's only be two months. I can't imagine that so many on this forum are experiencing pan for months, even years! I'm so glad I found this forum...if anything it's a place you can go to get things off your chest to people that actually understand! I'm sure my family and friends are tired of hearing my moan and grown!

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