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Will I need surgery?

I have herniated discs at T12-L1 and L3-S1, degentrive disc disease, spinal stenosis, and arthritis. I am wondering if anyone knows from expereince if this could possibly go away with time or will I need surgery in the furture?


  • Welcome! As to your question about whether or not you will need surgery- unfortunately, no one here can answer that question. The decision regarding need for surgery needs to and should come from your visit with the a board certified ortho or neuro spine surgeon. He will make that decision, based on your symptoms, his examination of you, as well as the radiology findings.
    Herniations, uncomplicated by nerve compression issues can heal by themselves, but if there is nerve involvement, then depending on the severity of it, and your symptoms, imaging studies, all help to determine what treatment options might be offered.
    There is a link at the bottom of my post that is the Step by Step Guide to treatment for Spine Pain.........it might help you to read it so that you can understand treatment options available to you.
  • Thanks! I'm just so frustrated with stuff. I've had multiple MRI's and Xrays and have been told I have 4 herniated discs, spinal stenosis, lumbar disc disease/degentrive disc disease, and arthritis. I have had surgery on my L3/4 that was a discectomy with laminectomy and have tried PT, epidural injections, and burning of the nerves on my lumbar discs. The last doctor said that I would need 3 fusions to take care of the problem but my pain doctor that I have right now said that is the very last resort but it seems everything that I have tried is not working. I am on pain medication 4 times a day and it sucks because I am only 28 and still have many years and am debating about the surgery since nothing is working. So I guess now am wondering if anyone else has had 3 fusions and how it went whether good or bad. Thank you so much.
  • Before you consider the surgery route, you need to understand that surgery is not a cure for pain. It can in fact, cause far worse pain to stick around than what you currently experience. Surgery is done to fix/repair an anatomical problem or to remove compression of a nerve. In those two situations, surgery goals may be much different than the patients expectations going into surgery. Too often we see patients who aren't undergoing surgery to fix the problem but expecting pain relief and that may not happen.......so if you do consult with a surgeon, be sure to ask him what he considers a "successful outcome" to see if it matches yours.
    As far as the DDD goes, almost everyone over the age of 18 is going to have some level of DDD show in imaging studies. All it really means in most situations is that you are getting older and because of a natural aging process, the discs aren't as hydrated as they were when you are a teenager or youth. In some rare cases, DDD can be severe, but for most of us, it is not......I honestly wish that there was some other name for it besides disease because people hear that and think, oh my spine is falling apart and that is not usually the case. DDD can be very , very mild but it will be put on the imaging reports because it is there.......
  • Thank you, I guess I didn't know that surgery could make pain worse. I've seen two surgeons and the first one actually wanted to do one fusion and two disc replacements but insurance wouldn't cover it. I saw another surgeon who did my first back surgery and he said I would need 3 fusions. They both said that it would help my pain a lot. I'm to the point of where somedays I can't work and have to call in and cleaning a lot of times I can't do or even shaving my legs so its getting bad and I'm at my wits end. So that's why I've now been going to the pain doctor but right now its gonna be pain pills the rest of my life or do the surgery. Thank you for the info!
  • of the vertebra and stabilize them so that they aren't shifting around as you move, but it also creates scar tissue and can increase the pain as well due to the scar tissue buildup.....a lack of fusion can also create problems if it needs to be redone.
    Is the stenosis in the canal or is it compressing a nerve root or nerve roots? There are two types of stenosis- one in the central canal, which if it is severe enough can cause compression of the nerves in the spinal cord, but it would be rather unusual for it to be that bad for someone your age.....so I am guessing it might be very mild, or at worst, moderate amounts if it is the central canal........if it is where the nerves exit in the foramina ( little areas where the nerves ecit at each level of the spine) it is also dependant on how much compression if any exists on the nerves ......stenosis can cause difficulty walking or standing for someone who has it in the canal , and can cause symptoms of nerve compression, numbness, stinging, burning if it in the foramina.....surgery for either problem involves opening up the area of the compression and removing the overgrowth of bone...it gives the nerves room to move as they are supposed to and can in fact, offer great relief for that problem.
    Those surgeries are called either a foraminotomy or a laminectomy if it is the central canal.....a laminectomy removes the lamina over the canal if it is a canal issue........a foraminotomy opens up the foramina where the nerves exit at each level of the spine. They would only do those at the levels of your spine that are involved and need treatment.
    I always tell people considering surgical options to consult with at least one board certified ortho and one board certified neuro spine surgeon.......even more if your insurance allows it........that way, you get different options given to you, and you may find that some surgeons are move conservative, while others may suggest a wait and see approach....
    but you learn something new at each appointment and learn more about your condition and the options available to you......Pain management usually is about avoiding surgery, but there are some conditions, where surgery is necessary to prevent further problems and if there is nerve involvement, the longer you wait, the more likely that you can find yourself with permanent effects if you wait too long
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