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Should I have surgery or not??

I am 51 years old and in December I broke my foot in two spots. Since then I have worn a boot on my foot, resulting in me walking unbalanced which caused a flair up in a herniated disk at L4/L5, I went from feeling fine to severe pain and numbness in a matter of days. Since then I have been resting as much as possible, but still have pain/numbness if I try to walk or stand too long on my foot. I have visited the neurosurgeon twice, and they are ready to operate, but will not do so until my foot is completely healed. I came to this site looking for some help, but reading many of the posts has me wondering if I should avoid surgery and just live with the pain and numbness. I teach, so I am on summer break now and the goal was to get surgery done by the beginning of July so I would be able to go back to school on August 15th. I would love to hear success stories. Right now the pain is not bad, as long as I do not walk much. I realize many who have successful surgeries never tell their stories, and often all that is posted is the stories of those who have had problems.....before I chicken out of this surgery, I want to hear the stories of those who had back surgery and were helped. My doctor wants to do a right-sided L4-L5 hemilaminotomy. Any insight, support, encouragement, help, etc is appreciated!! FYI: I feel about 2 1/2 weeks ago, and may have to undergo shoulder surgery before back surgery.....I am not usually such a klutz. The first fall was due to walking on ice with the wrong shoes, the most recent fall from clutter on the floor combined with a boot on left foot and numb right foot from sciatica. After turning 50 I started falling apart......


  • I feel like my body is falling apart too, I'm so sorry. When it comes to surgery I always believe in second opinions. Have you asked what will happen if you delay surgery? That's one of my favorite questions. I don't just want to know if surgery can be done, I like to be aware of all of my options before I commit to anything life changing & for better or worse surgery is. Have you been referred to physical therapy? Resting is only good for a very short time. More than a couple of days & it can make pain worse. It's important to keep moving. What other concervative measures have you tried, injections etc?

    Welcome to the site. I hope you enjoy your time here. I look forward to seeing you n the forums. There's great recovering from surgery information & support here so you can get a better idea of preparation & recovery.. Good luck! ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • The decision to have surgery or not is one that must be made by the patient and by the surgeon.......A hemilaminotomy is not as invasive as some other spine surgeries, however it is surgery and it does require that the patient follow the post op instructions and restrictions.
    A second opinion is always a good idea, and depending on what you find out at the second surgery, it can confirm that your first surgeon was on the right track , or it can offer you a different option.
    With numbness, it means that there is contact with the nerve root, and that relieving that compression is to prevent permanent damage.

  • I would not have any laminectomy/discectomy without instrumentation because if you imagine a load bearing wall in a house and you removed it without first propping up the roof the roof would collapse ..in the bad old days 1990 and before they did not use any form of instrumentation and people like me suffered as there spines slowly started to collapse into itself as a result nerve damage is done and that is irreversible now my consultant spend most of his time trying to repair 1990 back operations that have failed but many have permanent nerve damage .all new laminectomies /discectomies he does are with instrumentation to prevent disc collapsing . having surgery won't necessarily get rid of your pain if there has been nerve damage then you will have it for life spinal operations are to remove bone in and around the spinal cord and to stabilise the spine where trauma or disease has damaged it ..if you can avoid surgery ..then do ..if you carnt then make sure you have the best consultant you can find don't settle for second best you only have one spine and once its messed up you wont even get it fixed properly and even with an excellent repair there is always a chance that you may still have mechanical back pain ..good luck
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I had a Lumbar Laminectomy L4/5/S1 in 1996 with no instrumentation, I have not needed further surgery since. My surgeon was the best in the area and carried out private health as well as in my case NHS.

    The only difference in my recovery then to as it is now was it was much slower and my surgeon was good but very strict and insisted on 2 weeks in hospital the first weeks was strict bed rest with simple exercises to prevent DVT, second week I was allowed to go to the bathroom, I was then sent home on a stretcher for more bed rest with the same restriction just adding getting up to prepare a simple meal. It was 6 weeks before I was allowed to spend my day up and about.
    My only medication from day two was 2 paracetamol in the morning and 1 Hydro codeine at night while in hospital.

    I do suffer flare ups and have some nerve damage which affect my bladder but that was the case before surgery and there is some scar tissue.

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • that's fantastic
    my consultant was telling me why so many of us that had surgery back in ;;the bad old days ;;to quote him are still suffering now .laminectomies and discectomies are still done without instrumentation but my consultant and many of his colleagues are not doing those operations without instrumentation {to prevent more damage to the spinal canal ]I know it makes the surgery a bigger one but in the long run it should prevent problems ..it makes sense now I have had it explained to me ,if you remove parts of your spine and leave it with bit missing your asking for trouble further down the line .my problem is that my first surgery was done as an emergency due to my car crashing I had no say in the matter I just got the on call guy {who happened to be a HAND SURGEON] he over did my operation by doing a midline cut about 9 inches then cutting far too much material away ..as it happened I had a fair to good recovery because I was very fit and healthy back then
    a few years later the pain got to a stage where I was in agony and I needed more surgery ..again I did not know much about bad backs or good consultants and got another bad one !! he was way out of his depth and just made a mess he left me with a very unstable spine and as a result the adjacent disk started to telescope into one another I was in hell and no one wanted to operate .if I would have seen the consultant that did my ALIF then I am sure I would have had a better outcome ..it was another 7 years before I found the consultant that would take me on he specialises in failed back syndrome and ADR/fusion .I wanted ADR but my spine was too far gone and he could only offer ALIF .unfortunately the nerve damage was already done {and this is the reason why 5 spinal consultants turned me down because they knew that they would not be able to get me pain free through looking at the MRI scans } but this guy that did my ALIF told me from the start that I needed to get stabilisation in my spine or the other disk would collapse but he was honest enough to tell me because of the previous poor surgery that I would not get any pain relief ..he said he could not leave me as I was as my spine has been ;;apple cored ;; it looked like two pyramids stood point to point !! he has filled in the gaps with bone /end plates and carbon fiber cages .he also told me that the majority of his work for the NHS is repairing previous poor surgical technique laminectomies /discectomies .any new lami.disc he always backs his work up with instrumentation and has a very good success rate with NEW patients [and when I say new I mean virgin surgery not redos ].he has lots of ;;tonys ;;on his books requiring his services .he has me as a case study and mentions me to other patients in the same boat .as its a teaching hospital and a centre of excellence I wanted to help and volunteered to be a case study for new surgeons to read my story as the newbie surgeons don't get to see many spines like mine any more ..liz you got lucky but there are many not as fortunate .I am not only disabled with intractable pain its affected my bowel and bladder and I have been ED for the last 9 years .so a mess !! I think you know most of my story as I have posted plenty of times and its a shame that I did not have the guy I have now in the first place ..I will be in pain for life .my doctor and consultant have told me and my consultant has told me that he would not be surprised if I need a wheelchair before I am 60 not because I will be paralyzed but standing /walking will be too painful ..he has already diagnosed mild cauda equine syndrome and moderate arachnoiditis .all from poor surgical technique
    as you know I have just had bladder surgery [recovering well} but now need shoulder surgery to repair ?? caused when I fell out of a hotel bed {I was asleep } does it even end liz !!
    liz I hope you never require a fusion and the works that you have had done holds out
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • peacelovehopeppeacelovehope Posts: 10
    edited 06/27/2014 - 6:48 AM
    Unfortunately, not mine. I've refused surgeries because of what was said in the previous posts, there is already nothing in my
    Back to support the vertebrae, so nothing to operate on in the 2 levels that are bad.
    Part of the reason I've waited is because my X husband had extremely successful surgery. He required 2 levels & a bone spur removed in his neck. Since they weren't doing 2 level ADR in the US, he went to Germany & had a EDITED who has an amazing success rate ( mainly because he refuses to perform surgery that he doesn't believe will be successful, although he has repaired failed surgeries, which I think is essential, EDITED
    He had 2 artficial discs placed cervical, 7 yrs ago, he has full mobility & zero pain. The AD will last longer than his lifespan. He had the surgery at 41 yrs old.
    I'm sorry if this doesn't relate directly to your situation, but I think a few things can be taken from this. The obvious, finding the right surgeon & the right surgery. Never settle for anyone you have less than 100% faith in, he did a ton of research, and trust your own educated instincts!
    BTW, his brother is a Dr & told him he was crazy, but he knew what he was doing from research & a now gone EDITED
    He was walking around in Germany, and off all pain meds within 2 weeks. I know not everyone recovers so quickly. Now his back is out, & my back & neck are out, haha, but he's had some pain-free years from the surgery he had. Hope that helps a tiny bit. Best of luck J

    Post edited by Sandi- Read the forum rules found at this link- http://www.spine-health.com/forum/forum-rules
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  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 06/27/2014 - 7:03 AM
    will last. They have run studies simulating movement of the various areas of the spine, but there are not studies that are available that state that an adr device will last longer than anyone's lifetime. It is unknown how long they will last, but the suggestion is about 20 years or so, since that's the longest study that I am aware of out of Europe. These devices are made of metal and in some adr's polyethylene material which can cause metal and plastic debris to accumulate in the body, and the plastic cores of some of the devices are also known to wear out, after they were implanted.
    The doctor that you referred to, does not have the sterling reputation that you alluded to, in fact, he abandons patients who have less than stellar outcomes. He also is known for putting devices into patients that are directly in contrast to what the manufacturer's state are contraindications for using adr .
    I am glad that your husband is doing well, but it is vitally important that each person, facing surgery, do their own research into a particular surgeon, and his outcomes, and be sure to read all of the available material about devices, manufacturer's standards in their use, and know/learn about your condition before buying into some great advertising and marketing regarding someone's alleged "success" rate......success at implanting devices is one thing, success in good outcomes for the patients are another. The doctor in this situation rarely sees the patient once the surgery is over, and they return to their homes...
  • Well, my broken foot is as healed as it is going to be, but I fell and fractured a bone in my shoulder, so surgery is delayed until at least August. I posted here because I wanted to hear stories from those who had successful surgery. When you google a procedure, you usually only hear the bad outcomes. I may have to make another visit to the spine surgeon to ask some questions. I am navigating through very unknown waters right now. I am only 51 and would like to be able to walk as I age!

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