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Discectomy and age

I've been trying to do my research, but I keep coming up with so many opinions and so much information. I have a degenerative disc (l4-l5) and a herniated disc with large extrusion (l5-s1). My leg has been numb for about 3 months and I've been in pain for almost 8 months. The only thing that has helped somewhat is gabapentin. Anyway, I'm scheduled for surgery next week and I'm so nervous that I'm making the wrong decision. I'm 28 with an almost 1 year old. We want at least 1 if not 2 more children and hopefully sooner than later. I need to feel better in order to care for my son properly, but I'm so afraid that I will feel the same or worse after surgery and have ongoing back problems forever. I know every situation is different and that's what makes this decision so hard. I've read success stories and stories from people who regret doing it. I'm so confused. Anyone have any encouraging words to help get me through this? I have friends telling me what a bad idea surgery is, but I don't know of any other option. I was told at this point injections are only a temporary fix so I opted for what could hopefully get rid of the pain enough to be somewhat active again (gym, 5k's, chasing and holding my son without pain).


  • My first back surgery was a Discectomy back in 2002. I was only 17 years old. My sciatica symptoms completely resolved after. I carried twins in 2006 with no issues. If your surgeon is confident that surgery will improve your symptoms, then you'll have a greater chance for a positive outcome. I still had some off and on back pain but it was much improved. It's important to write down a list of questions to ask prior to surgery so you have an idea of what to expect. It's also important to follow the P/O instructions carefully. Make sure you have help through your recovery.

    I'm happy to answer any more questions you may have. Best of luck!

    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • CratticusCCratticus Posts: 21
    edited 06/14/2014 - 8:05 AM
    I had a microD back in November of 2013, age 36. Nearly the same level, L4/L5 for the same thing. Severe disc herniation was crippling me on my right side.

    I opted for the surgery because I wanted immediate relief. The surgery was a success, as in I did not have my severe pain. And all that was left was surgery pain. Rehabbed great and felt back to "normal" By Mid-Jan 2014.

    I was only free from pain for about 3 weeks before the ole degenerative disc blew out another chuck. Then another. and finally was in enough pain again to go back to the doctor. I decided to not stay local and go to the big city for a surgeon. Don't go for the small town guy, not enough experience... New doctor said fusion was my only option as I don't have much more disc space to left to remove.

    I am now on recovering, on day 6, from a L4-5 fusion surgery...
    The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,863
    edited 06/16/2014 - 3:54 PM
    What kind of surgery are you having?
    Spinal Surgery is always a very personal action. You will hear all about the Good, the Bad and the Ugly regarding surgeries.
    One of the most important factors is the level of confidence you have in your doctor. If you trust your doctor and you feel totally comfortable with her/him, then that should be one level of doubt removed.

    All surgeries are scary. Most times, before having surgery, you will want to have at least one other opinion. You want them to do a clinical examination, read your diagnostic reports and then come up with the same conclusion as your current doctor has. If they differ, they perhaps seeking a third opinion would be needed.

    Based on what your wrote, having the leg pain/numbness, I would venture to guess that part of your protruding L5/S1 is impinging a nerve root. When that is the case, most doctors opt to suggest surgery sooner vs later. You dont want to risk any long term nerve damage.

    Spinal surgeries are so different then they were 20 years ago 10 years ago 5 years ago and in some cases even a few years. No surgery is without risk, but today's spinal surgery, specifically cervical or lumbar are becoming almost routine.

    You are young, ( I had my first spinal surgery at 28), so you can use that to your advantage. You are stronger and can recovery quicker then someone who is older than you. As long as you follow all the post surgical restrictions and limitations and keep up with approved exercise programs and diet habits, you put yourself in a much better position.
    And this is what you want to strive for, especially since you want to expand your family.

    I am wishing the best for you in your upcoming surgery and always remember you can ask questions, you can rant, etc... the Spine-Health member community understands what you are going through.
    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
  • Thank you for your comments. I am less than 24 hours post surgery and feeling ok. I'm still hoping I made the right decision and this will help me get back to feeling normal. Read so much about people struggling afterwards and hurting their back again, but I'm trying to stay positive that I will get better and stay better. I'm sure I will continue to use this page to help get through this.
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