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Advice on Back Surgery - Yes or No?

sandalgalssandalgal Posts: 11
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
First off, I'm just turning 25 in about a week and a half and I have 3 herniated discs (L3/L4, L4/L5, L5/S1). I've been in pain since January and the discs were discovered in March after a complaint about hip pain and then more pain. Since then I have been under treatment of a specialist. The disc herniation is pinching a nerve and so I have severe stabbing pain all down my left leg (lower back to top of the foot).

At first the doctor thought that giving me a epidural steroid injection would be what I needed. So I went through that procedure and the pain, while it lessened after two weeks came back full force. I went back to him and gave him this information and he recommended surgery. I didn't want to hear it (because I'm stubborn and young) and ask for a Rx refill and a physical therapy Rx. He said after this last refill, he wasn't going to give me any more pain medication. He said that he thinks surgery would be the next step because he doesn't feel that conservative methods are working. Since then, I have been trying to locate a physical therapist and have started seeing a chiropractor. The chiro says it's going to be at least a month before we know if this is going to help (UGH!).

But for the past two months, I haven't been able to stand up straight, the top half of my body leans to the right and I'm in constant pain, with good days and bad days. Thing is, I'm getting married in September and I don't want to be crooked walking down the aisle and we are also thinking about starting a family and I need to be healthy for that. I'm wondering if I should seriously consider the surgery and recover before the wedding. My fiance and my mother think that it would be a good idea after knowing how much pain I'm in and how it could seriously help. My quality of life has gone down, driving hurts, going to work is uncomfortable and my mobility is limited, going grocery shopping is painful and afterwards, I have to lay down and rest because I'm in so much pain. Basically, I can't keep up with my life.

I don't know exactly what to do and need some advice. Can anyone help me out?


  • Im the same age as you, so I can relate. But before you rush into something, you may want to talk to a few different doctors. What kind of surgery is he suggesting? How long recovery, etc.
  • I don't know exactly what surgery he was suggesting honestly. I would have to go in for another consultation for that discussion because I didn't want to consider surgery my last appointment. I don't mind getting second opinions and have located a few more doctor with which to do so but just feel limited in options and time. I do know that recovery would be roughly 6 weeks or so.
  • Sounds like its probably a micro discectomy if its 6 weeks down time. I had the same operation on my L5/S1 disc. I will say the recovery wasnt bad. Also do you know which discs will be operated on?
  • Not right off the top of my head but my L5/S1 is the worst one but the L4/L5 is pretty bad too. Did physical therapy help you at all?

    I may have to have some sort of a fusion because my discs move around a lot according to the Doc. For example: yesterday for about 15 minutes I could stand up straight and then the discs moved again and I was in agonizing pain. I know they don't really slip persay but they feel as though they are shifting a lot when they go back into 'place' there isn't much nerve pain, just back pain.
  • No, I didnt notice any difference with PT. Im sure it helps long term. Obviously no one can tell you yes or no. The best advice I can give is research every type of surgery, and if you decide to go that route, see a few different doctors and make sure you are comfortable with them. I regret not doing more research before my surgery. After my surgery failed I started to research for hours. Im sure in the end I would have had the same surgery but there are different techniques to that surgery and that would have been good to know going into it. Its your one and only back, dont rush into anything.

  • sandalgal said:
    I know they don't really slip persay but they feel as though they are shifting a lot when they go back into 'place' there isn't much nerve pain, just back pain.
    I believe that is called "spondylolisthesis".

    Have you had MRIs or CT scans? Flexion X-rays? How about a discogram?

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • You have to find an MD/Surgeon you trust. Not one that will tell you what you want to hear, one you trust. My first microdiscectomy was at L4/L5 and I had immediate relief that lasted for three years. I'm a big believer in "if you can cut it out, cut it out!" I'm big into surgery. I never had any relief from ANY of the conservative treatments. Don't be afraid of surgery.

    The most important thing is finding the right doc. One that will listen to what your goals are and do the best to get you there.

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    Post Edited by Authority Member Numbskull
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