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Husband reherniated same disc. Now what?

question4Uqquestion4U Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
DH had surgery 10 years ago on his L5 with a microdisectomy and laminectomy. The only thing that solved was his sciatic nerve issue. He herniated his disc after falling down a flight of stairs at a job.

Well after pulling, tearing, and working, he reinjured that disc on the other side. An MRI (or CT--don't remember) showed that there was a reinjury to the other side. Well that was about 6 years ago. He refuses to go to another spine doctor because he is terrified of surgery. He does not want a fusion thinking that is his final choice. He doesn't want to go through ANY surgery. He only wants HGH, which no doctor does (and to me, I don't think this can repair his damage)

What options does he have? Any "best class" doctors in Chicago? I'm looking up the heads of the dept. at U of C, Rush, NW but I don't know any of them. I understand his fear but I think his stubbornness is causing him more injury and pain.


  • I can completely understand your husbands fear, but does he really want to live in constant pain the rest of his life? Obviously, surgery is not a surefire thing. In addition, whichever surgeon he sees, if they recommend surgery right away before trying anything else, I would recommend he run away and don't look back. It's always best to try conservative measures first, which include physical therapy, steroids, muscle relaxants, injections, etc. If those conservative measures don't work, THEN surgery becomes an option. BUT, I would recommend seeing at least two, maybe three, surgeons before making a decision. I saw an orthopaedic surgeon and two neurosurgeons before deciding to have my surgery 5 weeks ago. Now I'm having new pain on the other side, and I'm praying the doctor doesn't tell me I need to have another surgery.

    What I did to find my doctor was googled neurosurgery and national ranking. Then you can find a website that ranks certain hospital for their various departments. I live in PA, so I chose to go to the University of Pennsylvania, since their NS dept ranks #15 in the country. Plus, I have multiple thoracic herniations, so my surgeon specializes in the thoracic spine.

    In any case, best of luck to you and your DH. At the very least, try to talk him into seeing the doctor just to get an opinion. Then you guys can discuss it and go from there.
  • Traction.
    The patient lies on a traction table. The table is split into an upper body half, and a lower body half. The upper body is strapped to the table as well as the lower.
    The table pulls the lumbar spine in opposite directions. This is said to open up space in the foramins for the nerves.

    I have used it with minor degrees of success.

    How old is the gentleman?
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • My husband is 40. The problem is he relies on Vicodin (many times 2 or 3) to the point where our primary has stopped with the prescription. Now he's resorting to buying them off the street. I do NOT like that let alone him relying on the pills. I can respect his pain and wishes. But he refuses to even see expert opinions. I gave him U of C, Rush, Loyola, NW and NW derivitaves (even where I went which is exclusive spine/orthopedic), and even the Rehab Institute. He refuses to even get opinions (and we have darn good insurance). He says "they'll say surgery and that's it. I'm not going."

    Here's the thing.

    I care about his pain and limited ability. But he also has his own business and we have a child. His business requires heavy lifting, restricted movement, etc. and he keeps reinjuring it. It's going to get to the point where he will be worse off and probably wont' be able to work. Then what? Not be able to function? Not be able to play with our son AND not be able to bring in an income let alone the lack of benefits one usually gets from an employer (for example, I get workers comp, STD, LTD, etc. if I get hurt). He gets nothing.

    This stubborness is what bugs me. He even says physical therapy is useless and would barely do the exercises the first time around. He wants a complete, fast, and perfect fix and NOTHING will do that--traction, surgery, etc. So he resorts on these stupid pills that will ruin his other organs.

  • And a final word, while I have a completely different and minor injury (C5-7 degenerative disc, annular tear, and bone spurs--you can see the swelling) I went through an expert, Xrays, MRIs, and then eventually physical therapy. And it helped. It's not perfect. I still use my Flector patches when I can't move. I KNOW I am in far less pain than him. But I got I tried to work on it and know that it will never be perfect. I know I may need surgery down the road and most likely that surgery involves through the front to get to the back. but you know, if I was in excrutiating pain and it could mean a loss of function or paralysis, I woudl do it.
  • Until your change your husbands attitude changes you are wasting your time asking about doctors. Yes, most likely they will say surgery, and more than likely fusion. At L5 doesn't limit movement much at all. My fusion is there. Heavy lifting he will never do without pain, period.

    Sounds like he is addicted to the vicodin also. At some point that will catch up to him too.

    At this point though he'll end up in the hospital in ER when it takes him off his feet and he can't move. Then he'll be facing emergency surgery. Tell him that little tidbit. If he thinks that won't happen he's in for a really bad surprise.

    Sadly that is going to be his wake up call.

    Anyone in their right mind is afraid of surgery. It hurts, it's no fun, it's a reality.
  • I live up in the chicagoland,
    And you cant go wrong with any of those hospitals you mentioned.
    In fact the U of C is rated in the top 15 in the country, for Neurological.

    But Z, is correct, until hubby changes way of thinking what you described will continue.
    I was the same way, when i was hurt or sick, any way possible i worked thru it, as i had a family depending on me.
    And all that does is put off the envitable,

    I completely understand your hubby's way of thinking but he is not doing himself or his family any favors by putting this off.

    So is it the surgery or loss of income that he is most afraid of. Either way you need to reassure him you will be there for him, and together you two will make it work.

  • It's the pain from the surgery. He said with his previous microdisectomy and laminectomy, he never felt the same and was in constant pain. However, yesterday's simple cough that caused this, is excrutiating. He said the pain equates to the day he came home from back surgery. He can barely move. I told him about the loss of income, burden, and more importantly my concern about paralysis if the damage gets out of hand. He just won't listen. He wants human growth hormone and that's it. Well, we would all love a cure for xyz via an untested, theory but you know, you have to take what is available for now. He was so desperate that he was willing to pay out of pocket for HGH but he saw it was $500 and touted for anti-aging. I told him that's quackery/crazy talk unless it's a top hospital, clinical trial controlled study (which you sign your life away to).

    Heck, while probably not useful, I even told him to try acupuncture before this incident. It's at least trying. But now he's saying the minor disability insurance he has, he doens't want to mess up with a second surgery, etc. So I'm at a rock and a hardplace here. I know that one can't MAKE anyone do anything but he's just so frustrating that in turn, I just shut down and he then cycles with the "you don't love or support me." When no answer is a good answer to someone like that, what am I supposed to do? Baby him? I'm sorry, I gave all of the calm support with listing/researching viable options. He doesn't like them. And with street buying of vicodin it brings a whole other dynamic that I just don't like. And like an addict talking, I'm not "supporting him in pain and putting up with his bad mood." Sorry but no can do.
  • A visit to a neurosurgeon might help. Will they say surgery? Maybe but a lot has changed since your husband's surgery 10 years ago. Many good doctors will try conservative treatment (steroids, PT, esi injections) first. And even if surgery is the last resort, they have improved here too with micro surgeries and nerve monitoring to reduce recovery time.

    Not seeing the doctor is telling me your hubby is happy on drugs which is also a bit alarming. They also have other meds to block nerve pain versus what he is taking.

    He will want to start searching for a doctor now because he may find himself with no choice and no time to sift thru doctor later.
  • HI,
    I agree that your husband should see a dr. soon, to see what is happening, and to change his meds..Street meds are never a good idea, and I'm sorry he's resorted to this... But other meds can work for him, if he ever changes his mind and decides to do the best thing, and that's quit the street stuff and see a reputable dr!!!! I'd make the appt. and just tell him when it is.. maybe once the process is started, he won't back out.. You know how those guys can be...
    And if I may, I suggest you sit down with a glass of wine or whatever...you deserve it!!!! :) Sometimes it's harder on the caregiver than the patient!
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