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Is Surgery Ever a "No Brainer?"

I ask this question becuase I realized I have been kind of getting ready for my microdisectomy assuming it is really the only solution and I have never thought about if there are other viable, and I emphasize "viable", solutions.

I should point out that when I had my first herniation a couple of years ago my Ortho did not jump to surgery, as a matter of fact, he said he did not recommend it very often. I did PT, got the steroid injection and it did get better, and last year, for about five months, I had a period where I forgot I had any problems until about three months ago.

This time the sciatica has gone way up and I am to the point now where I literally can't sit for more than probably thirty minutes without severe pain and I have been on pain killers non-stop. When my MRI came back this time I could not even see any "white space" whatsover. My Ortho pretty much flat out recommended surgery but he said we could do the steroid injection again but I just said "let's go for the surgery".None the less, I thought I would ask if others have ever recovered from a severe herniation in "reasonable time" without surgery. My feeling is that I am making the right choice but I thought I would ask.




  • UsedToGolfUUsedToGolf Posts: 37
    edited 04/01/2013 - 8:21 AM
    My surgery was a no brainer - it sounds a lot like your situation. My nerve was completely crushed, with no white space at all, and it had been slowly occurring for years. I sneezed one day and dropped to the floor, and was incapacitated for weeks, so there was no other choice for me. I met with an anesthiologist about getting a shot, and he told me that surgery was really the only choice.

    My surgeon told me that he only reccommends surgery for people who just about grab him by the collar and say "Please Help me". Is that where you are at? Good Luck
  • I dealt with my sciatica for 2 years. Did chiro for months with little to no relief. Had 3 ESI's again with little to no relief. It got worse and worse. For a long time sitting relieved all of my pain. When it didnt I knew I was in trouble. That was about 16 months in. A few months later I could barely sleep, no positioning provided relief. when I finally saw a surgeon he wanted me to try PT. I had to beg for an MRI. I left that office severely defeated and depressed. I saw a different surgeon who got me in for an MRI right away. It showed how severe the herniation had gotten. I think I actually was too conservative and if I had had surgery earlier I may be a bit better off.


    Recovery isnt roses either. I am 7 mo in and still having some flareups. Its been a roller coaster the whole way along. Great days, bad days, and all in between. Fear of reherniation, depression. Lots & lots of work for PT & returning to work and all that good stuff. This med, that med. Its not easy. But with all that said I am so much better than I was pre-op. There are so many days when I do something I couldnt have done before surgery that make me very, very happy & grateful.

    This is why surgery is a tough, personal decision. But for me living with the chronic pain was no longer an option.

    Good Luck in making the best choices for you!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • kenpo1980kkenpo1980 Posts: 18
    edited 04/01/2013 - 12:11 PM
    Thanks for your comments and your stories seem very similar to mine.

    UsedToGolf, your question about the level of pain is interesting becuase it seems to vary from day to day and based on what I am doing. For example, today I have not taken any pain killers and I have noticed I can seem to sit longer and stand up without as much pain. But with that said, on other days sitting for any length of time is excruciatiing and it takes me like five minutes "to get it together", as I call it, after standing from sitting. And getting sound sleep, know matter what I take in terms of medication, is really a lost cause at this point. Whether I am on my back, on my sides, on my stomach, I am in some level of pain all night. Taking a couple of Vicodin before bed can help but that wears off in the middle of the night and half asleep/half awake game begins.

    I guess ultimately it is possible that through stretching, physical therapy, and another injection, I could work my way back again but my fear is that I end up screwing it worse and become one of those people that needs emergency surgery. Plus, a recurring theme I keep hearing from people who have had the surgery is that they wish they would not have wasted their time and done it earlier.

    My struggle right now, seems to be figuring out what to do in terms of work while I am in this limbo period waiting on my surgery date. I am unable to do my job to the degree required but I also don't want to head out on short term disability until I have a surgery on the books.
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