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Surgery or no Surgery?

Hey all,

I'm new to this forum but I have been having back issues for the past 4 years. I have only known about my bulging and herniated disc for the last two. I am 20 years old and have bulging discs between L3/L4 and L4/L5 as well as a herniated disc at L5/S1. I am currently a student at a university, however, I had to drop out for the semester about 4 weeks ago due to the severe amount of pain I was in. My back muscles were as tight as a rock, I was having severe muscle spasms, and my nerves were being pinched causing extreme pain in my hips and down to my knee - making me unable to walk to class, carry books, and somedays it would take me 1-2 minutes to get out of bed because of the pain. I knew that I was not going to be able to continue on with my studies so I dropped school and have returned back home and am currently staying with my mother. I have been seeing an ortho for the last two years who is very conservative in his approach, however, after my last appt with him he said that the next step would be surgery (lumbar decompression and possible laminectomy). Over the past two years I have taken anti-inflammatory pills, did pt for 2 months last year and continued the regimen on my own up until pain became to great, and had 2 injections of which the last one had zero effect. I also have been seeing a neurologist and have been trying a different approach through medicine which includes muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory pills, and an anti-seizure pill for my muscle spasms. Over the last week or so I have noticed very minor improvements with the new medicine however I am unable to do much because the medicine puts me out. Also, as a 20 year old male, I am very worn out with hearing the phrase "manage the pain." I am unsure of what to do as far as have the surgery (which has a great success rate and my recovery time would most likely be short because of my age) or wait it out with the pills and hope that I'm not back in the same situation in 2-3 years. Anyone have any advice or wisdom?


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

    - Detailed medical libraries of Articles and Videos that address almost every Spinal Conditions and Treatment

    - The Wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.

    - Under the Resource tab, there is a section Doctor Advice Health Center which can be invaluable.

    - As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a Support System. You are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 International members and growing daily.

    - It is very important to understand the Forum Rules to make sure all of your posts do not violate any of the rules.

    - As a new member, it is helpful to understand the 'makeup' of these forums, how to make posts, tips on adding images and much more. You should read Forum FAQ

    If you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the Private Message facility to contact any one of the Moderators on my team:
    dilauro , tamtam or liz

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • welcome to the spiney world where we all get it!
    I can't relate to your particular situation however, I just wanted to suggest to maybe ask your surgeon for "references" alot of times patients will volunteer to talk with another pt if needed. You might ask the doc if there are any young male/female patients he's done this surgery on that would be willing to talk to you.
    Also of course no one can make such a big decision for you but they can with you. If you are unsure and you are well informed about what the doc wants to do then maybe write out pros and cons. For example, quality of life for you right now...etc. that may help.
    welcome again I'm sure someone with more experience with your surgery that's had it done will post.
    tAKE care
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