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Should I try a discectomy or more conservative options

This is my 3rd attempt at getting some advice on here so hopefully I can get a response or two.
In sum I am facing a discectomy on sept 15th. I am considering alternative treatment options such as Prolotherapy. Prolo is a regenerative injection based therapy which is designed to repair loose tendons and ligaments surrounding the disc and therefore prevent further herniations / bulges. My disc at l5 / s1 is like a flat tire with a protrusion. My back has gone out 3x in the past 2 mths and i have missed a lot of work. I do not have leg pain, the pain is specific to my lower back. I have been dealing with this issue for about 6 years or more. As I said my back has gotten worse lately. So the orthopedist has recommended a discectomy and mentioned that I may need a fusion down the road. I have tried PT, Chiro, and yoga all to no avail. I am running out of insurance at the end of september. If I am going to get the discectomy then I need to do it now.

Has anyone tried Prolotherapy? What were your results? Should I go ahead and go forward with the discectomy while i can?


  • I had tried 2 or 3 steroid injections and PT for a while and nothing worked. The pain was so significant and my Orthopedic Doctor had recommended the discectomy so I went for it. That was in 2007. The surgery itself wasnt so awful, I was in the hospital overnight and then home and out of work for 2 weeks, after 4 weeks I believe I could get back to normal activities and started doing some PT (it may have been longer, its been 7 yrs so could be off on my timeline!) I was 27 at the time I had the surgery. It did greatly reduce my pain but wasn't ever 100% but the pain I did have was manageable. There were many times over the yrs my back would go out and I'd have severe pain again on and off but again more manageable and not all the time. Recently it has got a lot worse and every day, went back for another MRI, x ray and saw my orthopedic surgeon again and he now says I will need a spinal fusion! The rest of the disc that was left has deteriorated over the yrs and there is basically nothing left at that level. My bones are swollen from rubbing up against each other and other 2 lower discs and degenerative from taking on more pressure. It seems like a mess he said there was nothing more that could be done. Awful news and I really do not want a spinal fusion, WAY more invasive and recovery can be tough and long. And once you do that there is not going back and from what I have learned, surgery doesnt guarantee anything. Sorry wanted to give you my story briefly. Its a tough call, it did help but ultimately look at me now. Not in a better situation. Id really make sure you try everything first. What I started doing are medial nerve block injections, they may not have been around or used as much 7 yrs ago since nobody ever suggested them to me. Its along the same lines as a steroid injection, they inject a numbing agent and steroid right into the nerves to block the pain, they can give relief from a couple hrs to a few months. I first had 3 in June and they really worked, like almost took away all of my pain for a good 3 weeks. I just had 6 done a week ago, still hurting now but hoping thats superficial pain from the procedure. It can be kind of painful, had a muscle spasm when the 3rd needle was being placed in position, everything was just flared up and swollen. Hoping for better relief soon. If that works they can next go in and burn the nerves which can give you pain relief for up to 2 yrs. Not sure if it would wok for you but worth asking about. My pain sounds like yours, just in the lower back, not so much sciatica. I'd ask about them for sure. While I'd say my discectomy at the time was a success and has helped me for yrs I'm not in a good position now so makes me wonder if I should have done it at all. I guess at the time it was the right choice because my pain was intense and chronic, just wish i knew more about down the road. I hate that im 34 facing a fusion, I'm now like you looking at every alternative before I consider surgery. I'd really ask myself is the pain bad enough everyday that I can't deal with it any longer and ask about the medial nerve block injections. Its all about managing your pain. My pain management doctor told me he doesnt think anyone should have back surgery until you are completely unable to function. There is just no going back and no guarantees it will sure you! Lot's to think about, good luck!
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 09/02/2014 - 4:07 AM
    it is not a decision we can make for you.
    Prolotherapy is injecting sugar water into muscles in the area, it is not a cure for herniations nor will it prevent other herniations from occuring later on. It causes an inflammatory response in the tissues and therefore creates scar tissue in those muscles.
    A herniation is not something that you can prevent other than by making sure that you minimize the risks, by strengthening the muscles, using proper lifting, bending techniques and not abusing your spine in general.
    The decision to have surgery or not is and has to be yours and yours alone, based on what your surgeon is telling you is medically in your best interest.
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