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Male- age 31 with lumbar stenosis- contemplating surgery

HandsccHHandscc Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Spinal Stenosis
Hello. I came across your forum in an attempt to learn more about my condition.  3 or so months ago, i was lifting my son out of the tub, and felt a severe pain in my lower back.  Anyway, it got progressively worse in a matter of days, and moved into my legs (predominantly my right).  I went to an urgent care clinic who said it was a pinched nerve.  He prescribed motrin and PT which i began.  

Then i went to my regular dr who said it was the same, and that it would heal with time. He prescribed motrin, gabapentin and flexoril, which i started.

Pain got worse, and i couldnt walk, so i checked into the ER.  They did an xray and an ultrasound of the veins in my leg and found nothing.  They set me up with an appt with an orthopedic surgeon who i saw the following week.

The ortho ordered an MRI and after the results, he determined that i had DDD with spinal stenois which is causing me extreme pain in my legs and back due to the compressed nerves. He said that i didnt need surgery, and that it would get better.  He prescribed more PT and lortab, whichi began.

I tried PT and it didnt help at all, but the Lortab helps me be able to get out of bed and get to work.  But without it, the pain is debilatating. 

As i was unhappy with my local ortho's diagnosis, i sought out another opinion at a spinal specialist center (syracuse orthopedic specialists).  I am seeing dr. Wulff there.  At my first appt,  he reviewed the MRI and confirmed the DDD and lumbar spinal stenosis.  He added that while it is uncommon to have this at age 31, that he has seen it before.  He said that PT is always worth a try, and its recommended if it helps you.  But in my case, he said i could consider the injections to relieve the pain.  But he also reminded me that the injections were only a temporary solution to the problem.  And that i would be a good candidate for a lumbar laminectomy due to the severity of my problem and pain i was in.

It's been 2.5 weeks since i w Dr. wulff, and ive decided to go ahead with the surgery.  I realize that surgery too,is a rather temporary fix to my stenosis, But it seems more long term than an injection is.

Any advice or comment you have on this would be greatly appreciated.

Until then.


  • Hi. I'm new to this site too. I'll be 31 next month and was just diagnosed with degenerative spondylolisthesis/lumbar stenosis. I haven't seen a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon, but have seen a neurologist and pain management physician. I've had 3 epidural steroid injections recently (they start with a round of 3), which is a temporary fix, and I don't know how long it'll last. I do not have major pain, in which I need pain medication to function, but I do have pins&needles/numbness in my left leg all the way down to my foot when I stand for more than 5 minutes. I've experienced this numbness for years, but never did anything about it until this past December. So far, the numbness is gone after the injections. I would try the injections before surgery because it is less invasive, but it is only temporary. I'm just bummed that this happened and I'm not even 40 yet.
    Good luck.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You came to the right place for information with regards to your lumbar issues and the members of the forum are very friendly, knowledgeable and supportive.

    I can feel your pain. Although we all have DDD to some degree, it's the stenosis that I can so relate with. I also had severe stenosis at L4/5, along with facet hypertrophy (swelling) with loss of lubrication as well as spondylolisthesis. The spondy wasn't so bad, but made my lumbar unstable whereas the stenosis and facet problems were extremely painful.

    Do you also have pain in your hips? My stenosis and facet problems caused pain in my lower back, hips and down the back of my legs to my knees, though wider than sciatic pain that's caused from herniated discs. I got to the point where I couldn't stand or walk for more than 5-10 minutes.

    I tried the injections, but they didn't work for me either, so I ended up with surgery as well.

    You were smart to go to a spine specialist as I personally believe that when it comes to the spine, a specialist is always best because they know so much more than other doctors about the complications and complexities that come with spine problems.

    I don't think that you need to consider surgery a temporary fix, however - it could be that you'll go on to live a very active life and, if you take care of yourself properly in the years to come, you may never need to deal with lumbar issues again. I'm over a year out from my TLIF and not doing too bad. I have flares, but the main thing is to protect those levels above and below the fusion - they're most at risk in the years to come. It's life-changing and you have to rethink the way you do things, like lifting, bending, etc., for the rest of your life after surgery.

    So anyway, I just wanted to welcome you and let you know that I totally understand the frustration and pain that stenosis brings and wanted to say that surgery isn't necessarily a temporary fix. I've known people who've had lumbar surgery 10 to 20 years ago and have never had another problem.

    Take care of yourself and please keep us posted.
  • It seems to me the ortho spine specialist is probably right, although your pain could diminish some time in the next 2 to 3 months or more even without surgery. Spinal stenosis itself doesn't go away, but the symptoms can come and go.

    To help make your situation more clear, you could keep a record of the type of pain you have, where, how severe, how long it lasts, things that make worse and relieve. Also how long you can stand comfortably, how far you can walk, and your comfort during sleep etc. Also record your activity, exercise (if any) and what pain meds you are taking on some kind of spread sheet. If you think back over past 3 months you might be able to conclude that you've had some improvement in some of these areas.

    If you do try the blocks they might surprise you how well they work. Also they might give very long lasting pain relief and it's hard to predict whether they will or not.

    Are you able to sit very long? Is your job predominantly sitting, or is lifting or standing required very much?

    Feel free to fill in some of the blanks, more to help clarify your situation in your own mind, than to be able to get any medical advice from any of us. Good luck!
  • Handscc, I am 30 years old and just had two surgeries done on my S1-L5-L4. I had a pars defect and degenerative discs. I had spacers, metal rods, screws and bolts to help the fusion process. Also, with this condition I had a total fracture of my support bone and had to have the bone totally reconstructed.

    The first surgery was fine and I felt instantly the pain in my legs were gone. I had my surgery on Feb. 23rd. At one of my follow ups, my surgeon found that one of the instruments had bent and a bolt had come loose and recommended that I have surgery the next day. He put in a bigger rod with bigger screws and bolts. It has seemed to have worked.

    After this surgery, I was incapable of moving much and formed a blood clot in my left leg. The clot has been taken care of, but I still have 5 months to go before I know the clot is totally fine. I had that surgery on March 2nd.

    Now I am having trouble with another screw on my left side, but it is remaining intact as of now. I am currently seeking a second opinion because I am speculating that I may need a third surgery to repair this problem. I do not know who is at fault here the manufacurer of the instruments or the surgeon.

    My surgeon told me that this is the first time that he has ever seen this happen since he has been in practice. I feel that the surgeon should have used the bigger instruments in the first place since I am a bigger man (6'280lbs) at the time of surgery. I did my home work on this surgeon, pre surgery, and he is supposed to be one of the best and has a very high rating on every website that I went to and in his defense all the instuments are made of the strongest metal on earth. I still trust my current surgeon, but there may be another surgeon out there that has seen this situation happen before and knows what to do.

    I am trying to seek a second opinion, but because the surgeries are so fresh most surgeons do not want to see me. This condition has put my life on hold over a year now. I lost my job over this and I still cannot do much. Though, I am feeling improvement now, I am still worried about this instrument coming loose again and needing a third surgery. I had to get the surgery because I tried everything possible before the surgery and those methods did not work. If anyone can recommend a good surgeon in the NY/NJ area please respond to me.

  • If you're thinking about surgery I would get a second opinion from another Neurosurgeon or Orthopedic Surgeon. Best wishes. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Bulging Discs can be helped by Injections , allowing you time to heal.
    Herniated Discs do not respond as well.

    I would grab another Opinion and try a Neurosurgeon this time. The do only Brain and Spinal Cord. If he Recomends the surgery I would go for it.

    If they can Do Laprascopic then you will wake up ready to jump for joy, through I recommend you avoid Jumping !! Maybe a fist pump instead ;)

    Also who told you Surgery was a temporary solution? You may have to repeat the surgery in 40 years or maybe in 4 years. No guarantee's. Take it one day at a time!
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