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Please Help!

catattack85ccatattack85 Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have a herniated disc at L5-S1 and it is impinging on the nerve roots. Surgery is one of my options for treatment, and I'd like to know as much as possible beforehand. I've been told that if I don't get it treated soon I'm risking some pretty hefty long term problems. Please let me know what the pros and cons are and what possible side effects and complications you've experienced.


  • I'm in a little bit of a different boat here, but per your request I reference mine a bit?

    I have what is called "Spinal Epidural Lipomastosis (SEL)", which is basically the 'floating' fat we all have in the epidural space has solidified into a fatty tumor. That critter is squeezing my cord at the L5/S1. Awaiting a laminectomy to get that crap out of there.

    Here are some of the pros and cons (as told to me so far by my doctors). Cons: Pain in the lower back (a given), pain in the outer buttocks, outer thighs, shins and feet and middle toes. Progressive, can cause numbness, weakness. Bladder and Bowel problems can also be a risk if you get nerve damage.

    Pros: Reduce or stop the pain. Most surgeons will tell you that the 'back' pain portion may not go away. Reduction or resolve of leg/feet issues. Maybe reverse bladder/bowel issues (if no damage). Stop further progression of nerve damage....

    I hope that helps, and again, going on what I have (stenosis from the SEL), this is what I've been told. You being exit nerves, it is one side vs bilateral. Please let us know how it goes.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    the one concern I would have is the impingement of your spinal nerve due to a disc problem.

    Depending on how much the disc is pressing on the nerve root and where, outcomes can vary.

    I've had several lumbar surgeries that included a disc impingement of the spinal nerve root. (really the cause of Sciatica pain) The surgeries went well and no long term problems (except for adhering to restrictions and limitations).

    However for my 3rd lumbar surgery, I waited a long time (15 months) before having the surgery that I knew I needed. The results! I have a drop right foot and some dead nerved going down from my right knee down into my foot. When a nerve dies it will not come back.

    So, the major PRO in having the surgery sooner than later, is to avoid any permanent nerve damage.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Welcome to spine health! Sorry you are going through this right now, especially being uninsured (your other thread.)

    I had three ESI's and for me they did not bring any relief. Others seem to have varying results with them(one day to six months).

    I agree with Ron, regarding waiting too long for surgery. I did all the usual conservative measures, waited to see specialists and have testing ( I am from Canada, so there are long wait times for tests and referals.)

    By the time it came time for surgery (once agreed upon with surgeon, it was only a week later) more than a year had passed. I had nerve's being compressed in three different places.

    I am now 5 weeks out from surgery and am not feeling any better yet, with numbness in foot and calf, that may never go away.

    While I definately think it is a great idea to try all conservative measures and recieve multiple opinions from fellowship trained orthopedic and neurosurgeons, if you are a surgical candidate, please don't wait too long.

    How long have you been having your problem with L5/S1? Do you have sciatica with it? Any numbness or tingling?

    Wishing you all the best! Please keep us updated on how you are doing.

    >:D< Karen

    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • I am staying as informed as possible with the doctors, but I also want to stay informed from real live people who have actually been through this.

    To answer the question of how long, it's been 6 months since my injury and I have a considerable number of symptoms including sciatica. The symptoms have been getting considerably worse and have completely effected my daily life. I can't walk unassisted, my drugs aren't working anymore, and I've become incontinent multiple times. All because of some pinched nerves. :-/ I'm kind of at a loss as to what I should do still. I'm leaning more towards surgery as everyone I've talked to who has had ESI treatment says they don't work and the side effects are awful. I knew so little about the human spine before all of this happened, and I'm still terribly ignorant. I still need more tests too as my pain isn't just in my lumbar spine, but all the way up, and I still suffer from whiplash daily, unfortunately I had a doctor who didn't know how to listen and only ordered imaging for my lumbar spine.

    Sorry. I'm rambling. I guess I'm just confused and scared. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    Thanks again for the advice. :)

  • Cat,

    If that is a ramble, you're doing good! (G) I've had ESI's for my neck (didn't help), but none so far for the back. From what I've heard, the back is more receptive for some more than the neck?

    I look at it this way, "Doc, is the shots going to stop the issues with my nerves being squished?" If the answer is no, then I don't want shots, I want my nerves freed up!! I am sort of actually hoping they try them for my upper lumbar (hernias) though - lower is the tumor, so they won't help there.

    The key is you want to avoid permanent nerve damage. I have it in my right arm and hand, and it bites. You, and I am going to assume is using a cane for walking? I started using a cane almost a year ago. It's a pain in the butt, but it does extend my mobility to a point. Progressive means changes in my book, so I would vote for them to really look you over and give you a game plan.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hi Cat! I would definitely recommend doing whatever it takes to untrap your nerves! Losing continence is scary and often requires urgent attention.

    I have had many, many ESI's and while they are wonderful for pain, they can't untrap your nerves.

    Do you have children or someone to support and help you?

    Wishing you all the best!
  • Thank you all for the info and support. I'll be making the venture day after tomorrow to Stonybrook hospital about 50 miles from me. Apparently it's the best in the area, and there's a better possibility that I won't be given a few pills and shoved out the door . . . yet again.

    I know there is something very wrong with me. I'm a very strong and active person and ever since my fall I have felt weak and tired all of the time. Also the pain. I've been at a minimum of 6 for half a year now. Even with narcotic pain killers and 750mg muscle relaxers. I'm pretty sure that's not normal. I don't remember what it's like to not hurt when I stand up or sit down or shift in my seat or even try to turn my head.

    I know this isn't normal. I know I need real help.

    I look forward to the day when I don't cry at least twice because I am so frustrated with my body. I look forward to even one day without pain.

    I don't know how you all have managed so well. I mean, I do know, I'm just not there yet. It sucks to have everything change so much so fast from such a simple thing as falling down. I guess the fact that I have an adjustment disorder that presents with depression and anxiety during big changes doesn't really help me in this, but I have been trying.

    I'm so happy to have found this site. I'm so relieved to receive such warm support. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart. You people give me hope that there might be a light at the end of this tunnel. <3
  • Just keep up the fight!! We in this day and age have to be our own advocate! It looks like you are getting there, good for you!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • that you are going to the hospital on Thursday. Do you have an appointment with a fellowship trained orthopedic or neurosurgeon?

    Jot down all your symptoms as well as questions that you have before going, as I know for myself this helps, so that when I leave I don't forget to mention something or ask a question that I wanted to.

    Please mention your issues with incontinence as this really worries me. This is a big sign.

    As Brenda said, keep up the fight! You know what you are dealing with, you need the doctor's to get on your side, order tests and figure this all out, so that you can get on the road to recovery.

    All the best, and please keep us updated.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
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