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Rob MRRob M Posts: 36
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in New Member Introductions
Thanks to all who take time to read and respond to my first post. Any advice is appreciated. I injured my back when I was a senior in high school during football practice.Couldnt get up or feel my legs. I ended up with a ruptured disc and a compression fracture at the L4. I was confined to a wheel chair for a month until the swelling in my spine subsided. Scary for a kid to loose feeling in your lower half. Doctor advised not to operate as procedures then were not that good and also since I was so young. My twenties were very painful but I did heal. In my 30's I only had the once a couple of month muscle spasms.
This past summer things went south with chronic pain. I went in for an MRI and was diagnosed with DDD in L4/L5,L5/S1. Ruptures in L2/L3,L4/L5 and L5/S1. Annular tear in L4/L5 after a painful disco gram. Small tear in L5/S1.
My pain is mostly located in my lower back and am blessed that my leg pain only comes and goes. I seldom walk up right as the pain is so bad. I have also lost alot of nerve reflex namely in my right knee and both ankles. Dont know what that means and it doesnt bother me but the doctors always seem to be intrigued.
I did my due diligence finding a surgeon. His recommendation is to do a multi-level ADR via ALIF. Using a rigid ADR at L5/S1 and a Pro Disc L at the L4/L5 level. Any suggestion is appreciated but espeacially with this area on ways to proceed and what to expect. My insurance is Aetna which is good because supposedly they and Cigna are the insurances' that except the Pro Disc L. My doctor expects 6 months of denial and rebutle letters since he is recomending what he calls a hybrid procedure with two differnt types of AD's. So now I wait and fear the unknown as I am in the insurance companies hands to how my financial future will be. Not knowing how much longer I will be in pain is also scary.
Thanks again as it is hard to communicate with others unless they have gone through it themselves.
Current Meds: Percocet, flexiril, celebrex, and neurotin.
Weight room accident at 18. Had compression fracture and was paralyzed for month until ruptured spinal column healed. At 37 did all the epidurals/blocks. At 38 had two level open lami and Discectomy. At 39 (Sept 2012) had two level ALIF L4-S1 fusion.


  • & join the Pain Club! (Unfortunately)
  • Hi

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and we have a few here whom have ADR(artificial disc replacement). The one thing I always encourage anyone looking into surgery is do your homework. You only have one spine and want to make sure you understand everything. So first and fore most having a good surgeon is important. Also getting multiple opinions is important as well. One thing I would encourage you to find out if something happens with the ADR what will they do? Can the surgeon putting the ADR get it out. Most lumbar ADR's can't be removed once put in and are life threatening to take out. But you need to go over all of that with your surgeon. Which is why I encourage you to research all the procedures and all of the possibilities you have. Sounds like you have already had a rough go with the fall in high school, so you know how bad things can get. But you also want to ask about permanent nerve damage, and what are the odds the surgery will reduce the pain.

    Hopefully some of our members will come by that have a ADR and can help you out more. Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Take care and look forward to reading more of your post, and your progress.
  • I had only a single level adr back in 2004 in my l4l5 that is called the flexicore adr which caused me many issues of nerve pain right after the surgery. 2 years later they fused it leaving in the adr thinking that might help. But of course it just made it worse. My dr was already doing 3 level adr as trial basis before fda has even aproved the adr so i let him do the single level on me thinking its safe enough.

    After severe pain after my surgery. I seen many drs and realised many of them dont realy believe in this adr for many reasons of complications with patients coming to them with complications after there adr surgery as myself. I understand when doing multiple levels they want to keep some motion within the spine. But sadly i only know of one person here who had multiple levels with adr and fusion with good results.

    I personaly feel i would of done much beter with just having them do a fusion from the start and could of avoided the nerve damage i sustained during my adr surgery. Its posible now that adr has been around longer and they might have beter results with it now. Its all very complicated with these surgeries. I wish you the best of luck on whatever they do to help your issue. Alex.
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • thx, no doubt!!
    Weight room accident at 18. Had compression fracture and was paralyzed for month until ruptured spinal column healed. At 37 did all the epidurals/blocks. At 38 had two level open lami and Discectomy. At 39 (Sept 2012) had two level ALIF L4-S1 fusion.
  • I hate to hear that after you go in for an ADR you may come out worse. I hate that it happened to you. The biggest cross road I face making a decision about the ADR or surgery period, is if I am making the right decision. Being I, like many have been miserable for most every day for a long period of time. Almost feeling like you would beg to have surgery to relieve the everyday debilitating pain. Then on days that are very few and far between I have pain but only aches and I start to have the notion that the light is at the end of the tunnel and surgery is not a need. Then of course it hits the fan! It is scary to think if maybe I just waited, things would have gotten better. I becuase of cases like yours am waiting as long as possible. Your points of concern you mention are very good ones. Post op nerve issues and pain that actually is worse than it was before surgery. I know your intention is not to scare me away from a surgery but is to make me wiser on the reality of potential issues and I appreciate that! I hope the doctors get their act together and get you fixed. No one deserves to go through that. Best of luck.
    Weight room accident at 18. Had compression fracture and was paralyzed for month until ruptured spinal column healed. At 37 did all the epidurals/blocks. At 38 had two level open lami and Discectomy. At 39 (Sept 2012) had two level ALIF L4-S1 fusion.
  • I also had a tear in the l4l5 when all this started. After about 18 years of suffering with back pain i was almost exited after discogram showed tear and disc leaking so it can finaly be fixed when they sold me on the adr. It just all backfired. I noticed you mentioned you have a tear also. But is it leaking? Or does it just have a minor tear in the disc? I read on older posts where some had tear repaired to there disc. If there is anyway to save the disc i would try to go in that direction if posible.

    It seems the people that have the minimal invasive procedures like partial removal of the disc when there is a buldging or anything like that where disc is not totaly removed seem to do much beter then some of us who go under major surgery

    Soon as they change the structure of the spine many of us have multiple issues soon after surgery even at other levels where there might have been very small issue previous to surgery. Not to mention the legs hurting like crazy. It realy is a gamble how surgery will turn out. Dr"s usualy dont have an answer after they do surgery and pain gets worse and you complain about multiple symptoms you never had before.

    Sometimes they just look at you as if you was crazy or something just because they cant put there finger on whats causing it. Only now i understand why people say only have surgery if you must. If you know it will cause serious damage by not doing it. Or because pain is so bad where you just cant live with it by any means.

    Spine is more complicated then some like to admit. And sadly usa has the most money in the world but also has the most failed spine surgeries in the world from what i been reading the last 7 years. I will never understand how other countries are having beter results with these kind of surgeries wirh all the money we have here as if its all about the money for dr"s here in the usa.

    It has become a big business here for i can drive and see a spine care center every 2 mile here in the chicago land area. I am on my 5th pain dr here and they all go by the same book. To find the best dr for this type of surgery is i am sure very important. Its like finding a mechanic for your car. You have many bad mechanics and then you have the good ones somewhere in between. Good luck Rob. Let us know what you decide and how things turn out. Alex

    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • When I had the discogram, they did it on 4 levels. The worst was the L4/L5. I have never felt that amount of pain in my life. When Im 70 and my kids ask what was the most painful thing in my life, it will be that. I screamed and couldnt stop shaking. I know this was a necesary procedure though. I do not know the size or grade of the that tear, all I was told is that it was a major tear and all the dye that was injected imidieately leaked out. By the time the cat scan was done there was no dye reflecting in that disc. The L5/S1 disc was just a small tear. Both DDD and ruptured.

    First when I went to the surgeons I expected somthing at the most to be a orthoscopic procedure to trim the disc. All three doctors suggested an ADR via ALIF. I was blown away. They were all seen even before I had done the discogram. They wanted the ALIF because of the DDD.

    Now post discogram, to repair the tear, the clinc that has done all my epidural prodcures and pain management suggested an IDET. My chosen surgeon agrees it would be worth a shot. This is pending because my inurance considers this experimental even though when I go on their website they say it is a good procedure and they believe it gives good results but say that during the clinical trial the test groups where not done properly so its hands are tied. Whatever. Why would they shoot down a $5,000 procedure in lieu of a potential $50,000 procedure? Maybe they know of patients like you that still live in chronic pain post surgery and figure why spend the money if we are always going to need help.

    If I do procede with a major surgery, I have a chosen surgeon....I think. He has been highly recomended by many other members in the medical field and by other back patients who have no ties to each other. BTW I am in ATL. He favors the Pro Disc and is well versed in it as he has done six surgeries with the lead surgeon who created the disc, I'm told. He says also well over 200 by himself. Of course this is just what he tells me. I have checked his bio and he is with a large practice and his training and education are impressive. We all know and he even says openly that Germany is where it is at. He says we are way behind because of the FDA regulations and it is frusterating.
    I am holding out for the IDET, then will take it from there. Your nerve issues concern me the most. A couple of surgeons I met with were pretty open in the fact that a major surgery has a 70% chance that the surgery will do what it is supposed to. That statistic doesnt say it will make my issue worse. It is what they dont tell you, right! Your hardware in your back is pretty knarly. You dont have to tell me you live in pain by looking at it.
    Weight room accident at 18. Had compression fracture and was paralyzed for month until ruptured spinal column healed. At 37 did all the epidurals/blocks. At 38 had two level open lami and Discectomy. At 39 (Sept 2012) had two level ALIF L4-S1 fusion.
  • Thanks for reminding me how painfull discogram is. Lol. I am looking at having it again on another level. They think i might have a leak in l5 s1 now. I actualy cant remember my 1 st discogram because of all the events that took place after it. But i know what you mean about the shaking in pain. I made a joke before 1 of my injections to the girls to close the door because i will be screaming like a litle girl and turn the radio up. Well litle did i know it realy did hurt so bad i thought i seen god. I swore so bad cause it hurt so bad screaming frickin stop i cant take it lol.

    I usualy do prety good with injections but this 1 was a killer. Ok so you saying i will be seeing god once again during this discogram? Lol. Bring it on. I survived adr and then fusion. Discogram dont scare me. As alex screams like a litle girl in tears I want my mommy lol.

    But seriously some of this stuff is very painfull i dont care who you are. I worked construction all my life and thought i can hadle pain. But times this nerve pain and tests or injections can bring a grown man to tears
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • The dreaded discogroam. First, let me say anybody reading this, it can hurt but it is a necessary test to get you in the right direction of recovery. Now, Alex like you I was in contruction for many years and luckily now am a project manager so I get to ware kakis and mostly do paper work. But the pain :jawdrop:! I was screaming so bad when they got to the bad disc, I asked the nurse who by the way is very nice on the eyes if the walls were sound proof so other patients could not hear. She said not to worry it happens. Needless to say my pride was left in that room that day.

    Here is my point. I have heard from people that the amount of pain you will feel is determined by the size of the tear, I strongly agree. When they did the discs that were not damaged, it was pain similiar to a reugular epidural, piece of cake, disc with the large tear, a ton of pain, and the disc a small tear ouch but not crying. And yes at one point I told them that if they were not done and more disc to do, then we would have to stop the procedure, no lie. Luckily they were done. Back to my point, the people I know who have had the discogram either were half sedated or like us no sedation. If in the future I ever have another, it will be done with anesthesiologist in the room with partial sedation. If your disc is damaged you will feel the pain through the sedation. That is my .02 cents!
    Weight room accident at 18. Had compression fracture and was paralyzed for month until ruptured spinal column healed. At 37 did all the epidurals/blocks. At 38 had two level open lami and Discectomy. At 39 (Sept 2012) had two level ALIF L4-S1 fusion.
  • The person i talked to here who dont come here very often any longer also is a project manager for construction company. Electrical if i remember correctly who had adr in lumbar along with fusion. He is the only one here that i know who had that type of surgery with adr and fusion and from what he said he went back to work and surgery turned out great.

    He had it done in California from what i remember. I am not sure where you live Rob but if you might be near cali, Ken is a person you might want to talk to posibly to find out who did his surgery.

    Funny thing i heard on a radio talk other day on spine surgeries. Conversation was about how there was no chronic spine pain medicaly in the 60"s and only in the 1980"s these mri images came along to find so much issues in the spine and dr"s started seeing things in the mri that just about anyone would have after years and dont mean thats actualy causing there pain,

    Pont to it was that all this mri image just shows so much stuff to the dr"s that now days they jump the gun and do surgery even when its not needed and it never resolves a persons issues, Just like DDD is not such a big deal as some people think, especialy when so many people have it and they never need surgery for it.

    DDD is an aging process and nothing more. Many live there whole life with ddd and never needs surgery and most cases dont ever cause them pain. They were trying to make the point that mri image these days is not always a good thing bringing on so much surgeries instead of just turning to conventional method to deal with there issues,

    I though this was interesting radio talk so just thought i share it, Alex

    Point that was made is
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • It looks like your closing point was cut off but I think I got the gist. I am aware that the majority of the population has DDD and live normal happy lives. Heck your right I'm sure that if you took MRI's of people who do not complain of pain, you will find all kind of medical issues wrong with their backs. I guess it is that fine millimeter that seperates us from them. I'm not sure if my pain is from the tear, DDD or the rupture.
    To answer your other question. Im in Atlanta. I visited your city two years ago, beautiful city. If your buddy gets back on line, let me know.
    Changing gears, have you gone a short period of time and not have any pain? I went 4 days this past week. I didnt mention it because I knew I would ruin it. It for me has been 6 months of consecutive chronic pain. Previously it was just once or twice a month of back spasms dating back to when I was 18 when I first injured it. The past 4 days ending Sunday were glorius! I was so confident that on Friday during my pain med appt, I told the doc I was going to come off the meds. One in part because Im 6 months out from a surgery because of the insurance and I didnt want to be on meds that long and two becuase I was feeling better for once. Man was I an idiot! It came back with a vengance. I am realizing that it is better to be a little cloudy than to go off the meds and live in pain. I like you had to come to reality that this is my life for now on. The other painful reality for me is that I was a gym rat. It was my escape or relief from life. Now I go to work and lie down when I get home, sux.
    Weight room accident at 18. Had compression fracture and was paralyzed for month until ruptured spinal column healed. At 37 did all the epidurals/blocks. At 38 had two level open lami and Discectomy. At 39 (Sept 2012) had two level ALIF L4-S1 fusion.
  • Yes there has been times where pain let up for posibly 3 days. And soon as i thought i was geting beter nerve pain came back fighting hard where i thought it was the end of the world. When they fused my adr in. The dr said there is a litle nerve damage above the adr level. First thing in my mind was what is a litle nerve damage. In my eyes if its damaged its damaged end of story

    In my situation the fusion was a big mistake after nerve damage was found because i was still beter off with the adr in there for i still had good movement just had the nerve pain as i still do along with the stiffness and aches of other stress related issues from the fusion,

    In my view soon as my 2nd dr opened me up for fusion and seen the nerve damage above the adr he should of known fusion will just put more stress on that level and agrivate the nerve even more not less as he originaly thought if the nerve issue would have been in the adr level as originaly thought to be before surgery,

    The responsible thing to do would have been to back off the fusion idea and just posibly do a lami on the level above as it was done at my last surgery when they took my hardware out from the fusion to just make more room for that damaged nerve. You dont have to be a dr even to figure out fusion wont help once he went in. But of course more money in fusion then lami,

    I personaly lost respect for most of these dr"s for our life is in there hands and they dont always do the rite thing, should they get credit because they tried to help? It was not free help we pay for there services,

    If another construction company screws up a job and we get called in to fix it and we fix the wrong thing do we deserve to get credit for it and get paid? Of course not. Only the dr"s do,

    I found out after research the adr= flexicore disc only came in like 2 sizes and if it did not fit the person, they made it fit. Kind of like hammering in an over size wheel bearing in to a car and expect it to work. The pro disc i believe comes in diferent sizes so has beter results.

    In my view the only way to have great results with an adr is if it is more like a real disc and has some cushion to keep the stress off the other levels of the spine just like the disc that you was born with. And this should not be so complicated to invent for this purpose. I only seen one out there that came out that looks posibly close and might be promising but who knows. It looked like it uses springs from what i seen,

    I seen it posted here on spine health somewhere. It did not look perfect but beter then the ones i seen without the spring to take off some of the weight shock from the spine. All the brain power is going in to iphones and ipads but they cant develop the perfect artificial disc for people to help them out to stay out of pain it seems,

    Only thing they developed for failed back surgery pain patients is a nerve stimulater systems to put leads of wire in there spinal canal and send electric through the leads to block the pain, oh and if that failes because the patient cant handle electric runing through there spine/ boy thats a shocker eh lol ?

    And next we have the great invention of a morphine pain pump they can tap in a patients spinal fluid and deliver morphine along with other medication as long as the person can over come the posibe spinal leak that might hapen or infection that can also come from it.

    Yes i guess its beter then nothing, but is this the best the usa can do? We can send man to the moon, we can build just about anything you can think of, but we cant cure cancer or help so many people in pain ,

    Just my view". Alex

    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Wow I'm almost speechless. What kind of quality of life is that? I feel for you, I really do. It really seems like rolling the dice. It's almost like a game show. Behind one curtain you have a procedure that the doc says everything should go great and of course tells you your a good canidate, the other is to choose a curtain that you deal with the cards you are delt and make the best of it and go non surgical. Seems either way you are going to end up at the pain clinic the rest of your life! The only thing that keeps my sanity is that people such as yourself and others on this forum have it worse than I. It makes it easier to suck it up and put on a brave face.

    One thing is for sure is that I need to get back to my doctor and discuss all the risks in detail. Ask why this happens to people and why I would be any different. I can see now why so many do have surgeries. To get out of the pain they are currently in. One could think what do I have to loose, I'm in pain now, they're going to make me better, right? Again it seems that alot of people here have learned to cope with pain. I suppose I'm learning too. Just tired of it!
    Weight room accident at 18. Had compression fracture and was paralyzed for month until ruptured spinal column healed. At 37 did all the epidurals/blocks. At 38 had two level open lami and Discectomy. At 39 (Sept 2012) had two level ALIF L4-S1 fusion.
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