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Too young for surgery?

Hello. So here is the deal. I am eighteen years old and trying to cope with the fact that I may need back surgery. I have two herniated disks in my thoracic spine, and a pinched nerve that is causing me a great deal of pain. I've know about this for about a year and have sought the help of a pain management specialist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, anything under the sun. My doctors do not want me to put me on any high dosage pain medicine because I am so young but that is forcing me to take 5-12 ibuprofen a day and sleep aids at night which I know is not healthy. The pain has gotten so bad that I cannot do the things normal college kids should be doing. Instead of going out to dinner I am walking a mile to get to my chiropractor, instead of going out to party on weekends I am lying in bed with ice on my back trying not to break down. It is slowly controlling my life and I am running out of options.

For those of you who have had the surgery would you recommend it? What can I expect from it? In your opinion will I need to take a semester off of school? Any advice or suggestions you can offer would be greatly appreciated and thank you in advanced!

Warm Wishes,


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    edited 03/07/2013 - 3:59 AM
    Spinal problems never discriminate regarding age. We can never be too young or too old to suffer from spinal problems!

    What kind of doctor ordered your MRI? Can you identify what thoracic discs they are talking about.

    To me, many others on this site and doctors will try all the conservative treatments before going in for surgery. It apepars you have started on some of those types of treatments. My take, is that at times you may have to repeat some of those treatments again.
    - Physical and Aqua Therapy
    - TENS Unit
    - Traction
    - Massage Therapy
    - Spinal Injections
    - etc

    I am not a big fan of chiropractors. I think they are fine when it comes to muscular related problems, but once you know its disc related or nerve related, I would not continue to see a chiropractor.

    What have your doctors recommended as a course of action for you?
    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
  • I would agree...you need to discontinue the chiropractor. Chiropractors are good for alignment or musculature issues but actual disc issues they are a pretty poor option and alot of them are reckless in these cases. I have talked to numerous people whose herniated\ruptured discs were made 100 times worse in the hands of chiropractors.

    have you been given any surgical options? have you attempted epidural steroid injections? Have you visited a spine surgeons office to determine more treatment options. I would explain to them you can't live a productive life in this condition and see if they can put more effort into your case. keep us posted.

    I am in the same boat as you.

  • AllMetalAAllMetal Posts: 1,189
    edited 03/07/2013 - 5:28 PM
    I must agree with the other two, if I were you, I'd try EVERY TYPE of conservative treatment I could, and more than once. I'd also try to do them in different combinations. I do understand how this feels at age 18. If you were to have to have surgery, you wouldn't need a semester off, so I wouldn't stress too much over that. I'd suggest you have it as soon as the spring quarter/winter semester ended and take the summer off... you might could even take a semester of online courses, or if needed your college could make some special arrangements for you. I have found "jumping" back into life as soon the doctor deems safe is the very best thing to do and at a young age you'll heal quickly. With all of this said though, I'm only trying to encourage you with the "worst case" scenario... I'd still do everything possible to put off the surgery for as long as possible. I know how it feels to "miss out" on so many things that others are doing at your age, but you must remember, having the surgery won't magially put you to a "normal" 18 year old status. Hang in there, seek some second opinions etc, do what you can to post pone, but know there's lot of people on her to encourage you no matter what treatment you decide to go with.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    I normally would not copy/paste a response I gave to one member to another member. But I feel that your situation and the other member's was similar so it warranted me to duplicate my response.

    I know that you will find your time here rewarding. Spine-Health provides detailed medical article and video libraries that covers almost every known Spinal Condition and the Treatment. The main site also provides members with details on 'how' to survive after a spinal surgery. This includes topics from bedding and pillows to exercises. An added feature are the patient forums (which you are now part of). This allows you to discuss your problem with others who have already walked the walk. You will find that when talking to others here, they are not going to be looking at you and think you are crazy.

    Just always remember, there are no formally trained medical folks on these forums. As such, no member can provide you with medical advise. In fact, that is a forum violation. However, many members here have lots of experience in dealing with spinal problems and surgery. They can provide you first hand experiences that text books can not tell you about.

    Now, back to you. By now, I am sure you realize that spinal problems do not discriminate regarding age. You can never be too young or too old.

    Its perfectly normal to be very scared. You are just beginning to experience spinal pain and you have be given diagnostic tests and all the information coming back to you might be a bit overwhelming.

    Since you are talking about several different problems here, I am going to point you to the entire list of Spinal conditions. From there you can scroll down to read more about specifics. Start by reading Spinal Conditions . After that, when you narrowed down what actually pertains to you, start to read Spinal Treatments

    Before you see the surgeon, take a look at

    Your visit with the doctor

    Preparing to meet the Spine Surgeon or Specialist

    38 Questions to Ask your Surgeon

    It is always valuable if you can have someone come to you when you meet the doctor(s). Since this is all new to you and scary, it is very easy to forget things, or not hear everything that is being said. One very important aspect to remember is that YOU need to understand everything that is going on with you. So, if necessary, ask the doctor to repeat his/her statements again and again so that you completely understand what is being said.

    Now there are some positive points about all of this.
    While being young, some people will say you are too young to have this, too young to have surgery, etc... Having
    youth on your side is a positive. If surgery is required, you will be able to respond quicker and have a better overall

    But thats the last resort.

    With any Spinal condition, you always need to look at the Conservative treatments first. These include:
    - Physical and Aqua Therapy
    - TENS Unit
    - Massage therapy
    - Heat/Ice therapy
    - Traction
    - Acupuncture
    - Spinal Injections
    - etc
    Many times you will have one or more of these treatments to realize some pain relief. And if you dont, then perhaps you need to do them again and again.

    All of this before having the aggressive option - Surgery

    HOWEVER, my words are from my own experiences dealing with Spinal Problems, Surgery, Chronic Pain for the past 35 years. The person that really matters is your Doctor He or She will be the one you put your condition into their hands. Also getting second or even third opinions are always options. You always want to have at least two doctors agreeing with the diagnosis of your condition and the action plan.

    Remember, you are not alone. While we are not there for you in a face to face situation, we will be there for you the best way we can.

    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
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