I herniated L4-L5 and L5-Si with annular tears falling from a horse in ’05 and had an open decompression (laminectomy + discectomy) in ’07. My back pain was always worse than my radicular leg pain but bad enough to do the decompression surgery. The first surgery didn’t relieve anything, and we decided to re-operate in ’08. I had a horrible recovery and spent 9 weeks barely able to walk. I am 5’6 and 114 lbs so not overweight and I am quite active (walking, gardening, etc, since my back is so painful I can’t do much else) I quit riding horses 5 years ago. I used to be a professional dressage trainer and rode upwards of 6-10 horses per day.
I have had several rounds of ultrasound-guided facet joint injections to try to ease some of the pain in my lumbar spine but as it hasn’t been too much help, we decided to take a CT to see what my back looks like since the last surgery, and the results were shocking, to say the least (in my opinion). The last images I had before my last surgery showed the herniations at L4-L5 and L5-S1 impinging on the S-1 nerve root with the annular tear, with disc degeneration. (it was an MRI).
This recent CT shows L3-L4 circumferential disc herniation effacing the thecal sac moderate bilateral degeneration of the facet joints, and hypertrophy of the ligamentum flavum, L4-L5 shows circumferential disc herniation effacing the thecal sac, moderate bilateral degeneration of the facet joints, hypertrophy of the of the ligamentum flavum, and this coupled with the disc herniation creates spinal stenosis at the L4-L5 level. L5-S1 shows circumferential disc herniation mildly effacing the thecal sac and impinging on the S1 nerve root, moderate bilateral degeneration of the facet joints, and hypertrophy of the ligamentum flavum.
So, now my L-3-L4 is affected, my facet joints are buggered, I have spinal stenosis already showing on CT, and the herniations are all back.
If you were 28 years old, wanted to have children in the next few years, and were in pain every day (which I know almost every single one of you are) what would you do? would you opt for fusion? I have a referral in to my neurosurgeon to go over this scan and to talk about my options, but I want to go in with confidence and looking forward to my life. I don't want to think "this is the best I am ever going to feel" and "I should have done something while I had the chance"
I feel if I do nothing, degeneration is just going to continue and my spine is going to get worse and worse. and this IS the best it will ever be. and that scares the hell outta me.