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New Member Need Advice

Hi All. Im a 61 YO male. I have been diagnosed (MRI) with a large herniation/significant impingement on l3-l4disc. When it happened I actually lost all feeling/use of my left leg and collapsed. This was on 11/12/13. I went into ER, was told by spine surgeon herniation was too large to heal itself, they wanted to operate next day. I initially said yes and was admitted. After more thought I chose to cancel surgery. They advised against it but put me on steroid taper and sent me home. I was using a walker as left leg was very weak and would buckle/collapse at times. Over the next two weeks leg slowly regained some strength but still weak. Dr still said surgery was best option, to avoid nerve damage and to stop muscle atrophy in thigh. I have to this date been avoiding it. Leg is considerably stronger, but still much weaker than my good right leg, I still fall sometimes if left leg gets too much load on it as it collapses. I really don't want surgery but seemed to have reached a plateau. I have a non desk, very physical job(HVAC tech) and need full use of my legs to work. Just don't know if I should continue with conservative treatment or throw in towel and have the surgery(microdisc)...Ive heard so many back surgery horror stories!
Thank you for looking.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • PaulPPaul Posts: 730
    edited 01/16/2014 - 2:50 PM
    Today, there are medical advancements that allow for minimally invasive surgery. A surgeon that knows how to use these techniques is key. There are some that use flexible endoscopic instrumentation and only need two small access ports in your side. These small incisions usually don't even need stitches to close.

    The small and flexible instruments can be fished inside without too much damage. In old times, surgeons would make huge incision and cut lots of tissue leaving a bunch of collateral damage. Go on youtube and search lumbar microdiscectomy to see different versions of the same kind of surgery.

    I would also tell you that once a disc is injured, it will from then on be the weakest link. It will be like a fuse in an electrical circuit. Overload it and it will pop. Except, to reset it, you have to have surgery on it. So, you need to know the limit and not go over it.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I think you should bite the bullet and operate. Your leg issue will probably not get any better and could put you in danger of a nasty fall and additional injury. I know it's a drag, but trust me, there ARE many successful spine surgeries (including mine), although it is much easier to find and read the horror stories.

    Do you have disability leave as an option? I am on leave for 6 weeks while I recover and will then return to my desk job. I could not imagine how much pain you are in on a daily basis and working with your arms up over your head must be awful. Find a trusted and recommended surgeon and then get a second opinion, but I have a hunch, hearing how serious your symptoms are, they'll all want to operate.

    I am so very pleased with my outcome so far, and you could feel the same too. Take control, gather data, and make a decision. Best of luck!
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • Dcullen62DDcullen62 Posts: 6
    edited 01/16/2014 - 5:06 PM
    My friend I had surgery on Monday ( 5 days ago) to remove a broken disc I was crippled and hadn't slept in 4 months from
    My experience back surgery is amazing I now sleep in my bed and I am slowly returning to normal it takes a while to return to normal in fact it can take months but the longer you leave something that needs to be fixed the longer it takes to fix and remember permanent damage is permanent.MD takes about 45 min and is so safe you would be mad not to have it. In Ireland there is a 2 year waiting list for this surgery in the public hospitals.
    Danny L5-S1 MD
  • glderguy, i sent you a pm, look in your indox. i would try to exhaust all other options first. i am glad i have, so far. once you go under the knife, there is no turning back, there are alot of bad outcomes from the microdiscectomy on here. mainly, that is what changed my mind in the beginning, i could not believe how many i have read about.
  • inchwormiinchworm Posts: 719
    edited 01/18/2014 - 6:38 PM
    I can't advise you what to do but am just here to say that I've had 3 back surgeries in the last 4 years and have not regretted one of them. Sure, things can and do happen but if you have a good surgeon that you trust and you follow instructions post-op you have a good chance at recovery. You may know this already, but the longer you wait to relieve pressure on a nerve, the less likely the nerve is to experience full recovery. You've got a leg that's collapsing under you and that's not a good sign, to my understanding, and the surgeon who examined you is not pushing an unnecessary operation, he is giving you sound advice. My thought is that whatever could potentially go wrong from surgery would likely not be as bad as what you are now experiencing. It's your decision, of course, and nobody here can tell you what to do. All we can do is share our experiences and wish you the best. :)

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
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