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what path should I take?

Hello everyone,
I'm happy to find a group where I can share my own personal experience and hopefully get some useful advices.

I'm 23 years old in good shape. I have a15mm herniated disc on the L5-S1 disc. However I have not experienced any extreme pain or disorders in my walking abilities. The only symptoms I have is an insistent burning on my left hip that seems more like a burn after the gym. After I went to the doctor where he suggested to have an MRI, I came across with a "massive" herniation. The doctor immediately suggested surgery saying that even though the clinical condition is not requiring surgery the size of the herniation can cause very serious neurological damage and has to be removed as soon as possible. I was quite terrified. Surgery was the only option? I went on and asked more doctors and they gave me the same answer. They say that physiotherapy will have no results and that chances are that the herniation will continue to grow to cause serious damage to the nerves. However there was one doctor that told me that since my clinical condition is not as bad I should wait, have some physiotherapy and see how it goes.
To tell you the truth I don't trust people that don't give a second option especially when they have much to gain (from surgery). I'm to the point now that I need to do something ether surgery or physiotherapy. Doesn't seem to be a strait answer to it. So I would be grateful if you could give me some more advice to make my decision easier.
Thank you all in Advance!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

    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 growing.
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,858
    First of all, I know that all of the new news to you has to be somewhat terrifying. To hear the words 'Massive' and Immediate surgery would rattle anyone.

    I suggest that you take a look at the following:
    Herinated Disc
    Pain Management
    Spinal Surgery

    They will give you more detailed information. It is always the best thing to become really educated in the area that you are having a problem in and being faced with potential surgery

    Many times, people with herniated discs really do not feel alot of pain. Most of the time, the pain is associated when a disc is impinging on a nerve root. That would generate the pain in your butt and also down your leg. That is the classic Sciatica condition.

    When this does happen, doctors tend to perform surgery sooner than later. The problem in waiting is that the nerve root is being damage and if it goes too long untreated you could wind up with permanent nerve damage.

    I've had a number of spinal surgeries. On my third lumbar surgery, I waited about 6 months after we knew that a disc was pressing on a nerve root. Finally, I could not take the pain any longer and I was having trouble walking. The surgery went fine, but it took almost a year before the nerve pain went away. I was left with some permanent nerve damage from my knee down to my foot. I have a partial dropped foot because of this. Nothing major, just something I need to be aware of.

    Next time you see you doctor, discuss all the pros and cons of having surgery now versus waiting. I am a firm believer that all conservative treatments should be tried once or perhaps twice before having surgery. But all of that depends on the severity of the disc condition and the impact on the nerve root.

    Since you stated that another doctor also agreed with the condition and treatment, I would just want to know from the doctor if the surgery should be done now. Back surgeries are so much more common now. It is almost getting routine for some spinal surgeons.

    One of the most important things right now is to realize if you have trust and confidence in your doctor.

    Here is something else worth reading Questions to ask your doctor before spinal surgery

    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
  • The issue with a herniation of that size is the danger of a surgical emergency for a conditon called Cauda Equina Syndrome, which is basically a compression of the nerves in the spinal canal in the lumbar area, which if left too long untreated, can result in permanent damage, including but not limited to paralysis, damage to the bladder and bowel to empty on their own, as well as neurological damage.
    The best and most reasonable option is to remove the herniation and release the pressure on the spinal nerves as soon as possible to minimize the chances for CES and permanent damage.
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