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Does surgery help back pain

I am new to this site and probably facing back surgery. I have always had back problems that have come and gone. I am 33 years old and had my first baby ten weeks ago. When I had about 6 weeks left of my pregnancy and my back started killing me, so I went to a chiropractor. He did minimal adjustments on me and I started to feel better (although I'm not totally convinced it was because of the chiropractor.) However, I started feeling mild sciatic pain in the outside of my right calf. I assumed the baby was just situated funny, and that the mild pain would go away when I had the baby.

Well, I ended up having a c section on July 5 with severe complications that required a second surgery three days later because of internal bleeding. I ended up staying in the hospital for eight days. I continued to have mild sciatic pain in my calf. About three weeks after having the baby, the pain turned from mild to horrible! I couldn't sit because I'd get pins and needles down my calf and horrible back pain. So I went back to the chiropractor and he started adjusting me and doing tens unit and laser therapy. I saw him three times a week for four weeks. I wasn't getting better so he ordered an MRI.

The results were horrible. I have severely herniated discs at L4/L5 (measuring 1 cm) and L5/S1 and bulging discs at the two levels above. I also have severe spinal stenosis (down to 5 mm), both congenital from L3/L4 down to L5/S1 and from the herniated discs. I also have congenitally short pedicles. I have tears in my bottom three discs.

Since getting the MRI, I have started physical therapy and I'm on neurontin 800 mg/day. I have also had one epidural injection. Nothing is working and my lower leg pain seems to be getting worse. I also still have severe low back pain on both sides. My big toe and outside of my calf are always numb and I always have tingling there. I also get severe pins and needles often down my leg. I am miserable. I am an assistant principal at an elementary school and have gone back to work, but I'm in so much pain that I've missed a lot of work. I also am unable to take care of my baby. I can't sit long enough to feed him and I can't hold him long while standing because of the pain. My husband quit his job to take care of both of us.

There is a surgeon in my area that normally takes six months to get into because he's supposedly the best neurosurgeon in the area. A PA that works in his office is my sister's neighbor and he showed him my MRI and he wanted to meet with me ASAP. So I have an appointment this Tuesday. I am so scared! I have had an appointment with a place that does endoscopic procedures scheduled for tomorrow, but I don't think the doctors there are neither orthopedic or neurosurgeons, so I'm nervous about that.

I do not want to have a fusion!! I don't want surgery at all, but I can't keep living like this! I want to return to my active lifestyle and be able to take care of my baby boy.

Can surgery help back AND leg pain? I have read that it often makes back pain worse. I can't handle that!

Any suggestions or words of advice? Thank you!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 09/15/2013 - 9:58 AM
    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

    Here are some you should take a look at:
    Read before you post
    Tips for Newcomers
    Understanding the rules

    All of this will help make your threads better and improve the times and quality of responses you will receive.

    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:






    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • EMS GuyEEMS Guy Posts: 916
    edited 09/15/2013 - 3:36 PM
    Fusion is not always the answer. There are other less invasive procedures that might be done. I do wonder why they want you at PT with herniated and torn disks. But, the doctors have a lot more schooling than I do!

    No matter what a "Spine Center" or "Surgery Center" says, I want only a neurosurgeon working on me during surgery. Others love Ortho's and I'm sure they are fine. But to me personally, I want someone who knows the nervous system inside and out.

    Good luck!
    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • 1st of all, congratulations on your baby. 2nd, sorry you're having back problems.

    Surgery got rid of my back pain (leg pain too). I had both a neuro and an ortho present for my surgeries - it doesn't have to be one or the other.

    I'm sending you a link to helpful info; look for it in your inbox here.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • In 2002 i had herniated my L4-5 and was hunched over on excruiciating pain. Pain that took your breath away everytime you tried to move.
    A " 10" is not close to being high enough on the pain scale

    My husband took me to the ER was admitted and within two days a neurosurgeon performed a laminectomy.
    Woke up from surgery and pain was gone 100 percent and did not come back, but not as bad, until a deer totaled my car in an auto accident 12 years later.
    So in a simple answer, YES!!!!! Back surgery does work and take away the pain

    If you are SUFFERING have the surgery.

  • My two fusions helped me out. I had no back or leg pain for quite awhile after my fusions. Unfortunately, I have adjacent disc disease. My L5-S1 is giving me issues now. You can seem what all I have had done in my signature. I am having yet another MRI next week to check for a herniation on the levels next to my fusions. Even though am having some issues now I consider my surgeries a success.

    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
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