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29-year old with thoracic disc herniations

KimD592KKimD592 Posts: 435
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
Hi there! My name is Kim and I am 29 years old. I injured my back lifting one of my kids this past October. I was subsequently diagnosed with several herniations in the thoracic area, the larger ones in T8, T9, and T10. Apparently T9 is the worst of them, though, and is pressing on my spinal cord. I was also diagnosed with moderate DDD.

I am going for a CT myelogram on Thursday and then I have a followup appt with the NS next Tuesday. When they called to schedule the appt with the NS, they said he wanted to talk to me about possible surgery. But after reading other posts on here, it sounds like surgery is reserved for the worst of the worst. So does that basically mean that I am screwed and will have to live with it? I have tried just about everything except for a chiro, since my insurance doesn't cover that and I simply do not have the money. I am an RN and have been out of work because of this. I've tried PT, multiple injections, TENS unit, ice packs, heating pads, yoga, stretching, pain meds, muscle relaxants, etc, etc, etc.

The pain ranges from moderate to severe and often times wraps around my sides to just under my ribs in the front. In the back it is a deep, constant ache, and in the front it is a stabbing pain. I also get radiating pain in my legs, and recently I've noticed a pins and needles sensation in my legs. This makes walking difficult, and it is getting harder and harder to move around. This is not good being that I have three children, ages 9, 2.5, and 15 months.

Please tell me there is hope!!


  • Kim-

    I think that each case is different and the doctor's thoughts are all different. I came on here after I started having back issues and reading so many stories and the difficulties that they have with doctor's I can't imagine that to be my story.

    I fell on 2/28 and tore my mcl in my knee and started experiencing what they thought was sciatic nerve pain. This was uncontrollable nerve pain and the regular doctor said that they hadn't seen sciatic pain be so debilitating before...One week of physical therapy wasn't helping the pain, a 5 day round of steroids didn't help so they ordered an MRI. 3/18 I had the MRI and within 2 hours the doctor called saying I needed to get into an orthopedic surgeon's office for possible surgery. It showed a herniation at T11 with severe stenosis and I had worsening muscle weakness in my right leg beyond the extreme pain I was in.

    I called and got an apt in for the following Wednesday 3/23 he wanted to do the surgery the next day and said that he does often try to talk people out of surgery but with 1-2% he tries to ensure that they have the surgery. I put off surgery for 5 days because it was my birthday weekend.

    One week in the hospital and an awful 5 weeks of pain, discomfort, frustration and crying that life will never be the same later....I am glad that I did it.

    Some other doctors may have wanted to drag it out or they may have wanted to do surgery immediately I don't know because I believed in my doctor and that it would be the best, quickest option and it was needed to get my life back....I'm going back to work on Monday with limited office duty, still having issues with the incision healing but it's getting better.

    Some doctors don't want to do thoracic surgeries because they aren't as common and they aren't used to doing them. I believe that a doctor's skill level or expertise shouldn't be the deciding factor on if I live with chronic pain and nerve damage for the rest of my life....So I don't believe that you have to be the worst of the worse but it definately should be warranted, needed and the best option for you.
  • ...for your response. My biggest fear is the NS telling me that I'm going to have to just live with this. It's slowly becoming more and more debilitating. I feel like I'm too young to be going through this. On the one hand, I want to have the surgery so that I can have a chance of being healthy (or close to it) again, and so that I can enjoy my life with my family and be productive again. On the other hand, the surgery sounds way too risky, and I'm terrified of something bad happening and not being around to see my babies grow :o( So I'd almost rather live in constant, debilitating pain. I guess I'll try not to get ahead of myself. I'll see what the doctor says on Tuesday. If he says he can't help me, perhaps I'll drive to Philly and get a second opinion.
  • I would certainly wait until you know something and try not to get yourself worked up, go for a second opinion for sure!

    Every surgery can have complications no matter how small the surgery but you can't let that fear hinder your thoughts or decisions. I have seen a friend who has lived through years of chronic debilitating back pain...and I've watched her kids grow the last 10 years...it's not been good for any of them and the kids have lived thru it as well as her.

    I hope you get a good answer to your fears and questions!
  • Kim- I had a L5/S1 disc hern when I was 25 (2005) and know how nasty it is. I work in a hospital (IT department) and know how horrible it can make work and your mental well being.

    Only you can make the decision for the surgery, but I had mine by an Army Colonel at an Army Hospital. He was the chief of ortho there. I would do the surgery again in a heartbeat. It did take 2 weeks for the nerves to heal and stop sending pain messages to my brain.

    I know how hopeless you feel. Believe me. It was so bad I wanted to end it all (thinking I would have to deal with this forever). Just remember you have our support and the NSs you're seeing are no dummies. Their intent is to get you as pain free as possible. I'm sure you've seen your MRI which is showing the discs hitting into the nerves. They did a micro-diskectomy on me (minimal incisions). Recovery sucked as well as the all mighty catheter. Expect recovery to be nasty. Have someone bring you a laptop and tons of reading material. My faith helped me greatly.

    I sincerely hope you get fixed %100. You're in my prayers.
  • Thank you so very much for your support. I have decided to go through with the surgery. I'll be having a thoracic discectomy, done posteriorly, in two weeks. I'm extremely nervous but feeling optimistic about it. I'm ready to get this done and overwith. Thank you for your prayers. That means a lot to me!
  • Also.... They don't know how bad it actually is until they get in there. I was supposed to have a mildly protruding disc. I actually had a severely herniated disc.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • Hi Kim,
    I have T11/12 disc protrusion for a few months. After consultation with the orthopaedic surgeon, he suggested injections if there is any pain.

    Just to share with you all this while I never had pain. The reason could be due to the far infra-red therapy (Contiago mattress) daily which generates the fibroblast functions for connective tissue repair.

    In addition, I also took Genacol daily & physiotherapy and all these helps greatly.

    Here's wishing you the best of health and do feel free to email me on thoracic health.
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