Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Back surgery in 2 days, Freaking out now. Please help

nmad19nnmad19 Posts: 5
edited 01/20/2015 - 1:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi guys,

I am 22 year old active guy, who has struggled with a disc bulge at L3/L4 level from the last 18 months. When I booked my surgery 6 months ago I was in pretty bad pain (left buttock and hip). Would struggle to play any sport, sit for long periods or walk without any pain.

However now 2 days before my surgery all that is gone, the only pain i get is random jolts of pain down my leg and bad pain only if i aggravate it by doing a straight leg raise. A second MRI still shows the bulge present and I'm afraid that If i don't get the surgery, I could go back to being in the pain I was before.

I have done all conservative management and after 2 years I just want to be 100%.

My surgery is Thursday and I'm freaking out about the fact that I could be doing an unnecessary surgery.

Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated !


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • You better show your recent MRI to more spine experts. If you have hesitation, you better seek thorough picture so that you won't regret.
  • Doug HellDoug Hell Posts: 335
    edited 01/20/2015 - 3:15 AM
    Does the MRI show any improvement? If not, then obviously the problem remains.... Clearly you are still in pain and dealing with serious symptoms. Jolting pain or shooting pain is not something to undermine. There is a problem here. If you feel comfortable, let us in on some of the history as to what happened and such....Where you were and where u r now so to speak. That would help us steer you in the right direction.

    I'm a firm believer in that surgery should be the last option, but I have no background info on your situation what so ever aside from the fact that there's STILL a problem, but your pain has decreased. That doesn't mean it wont spike again, especially if there are still symptoms. Pain is an up and down roller coaster ride with all of us.... I had a 4 level fusion with instrumentation, compression and radiculopathy over a year ago and I'm still on this pain roller coaster....

    The biggest misconception is that surgery will take away ALL the pain. It isn't always a miraculous fix. My concern is that the bulge gets worse and then you have to wait another 6 months to have the procedure when it begins to compress into your spine. That's when things go from bad to worse....

    In the meantime, I would definitely CALL your NS or what ever Doctor you need to speak with to ensure that you are indeed making the right decision. 2 days isn't a whole lot of time to figure this out my Friend.

    Best wishes,

    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • tallulah73ttallulah73 Posts: 5
    edited 01/20/2015 - 3:52 AM
    I've no answer for you but ive just subbmited a similar post.
    I'm due for my surgery on Monday after waiting over 18 months and right now my pain is minimal. its a terrible decision to have to make. I know just how you feel. My herniation is just the same but just not causing me much of a problem right now.
    I hope you can come to the right decision for you! X
  • So, I had surgery at 25 years old where I got L5/S1 fused, I did not take the decision lightly. I exhausted all of the other non-surgical treatments and waited too long to get the surgery, I think. I had the fusion and pain got better but there is still permanent nerve damage so I always will have pain. The pain is back, in a different area and I am going to see my neurosurgeon in a few weeks.

    I would say that if your pain is better call your doctor to discuss it before the surgery. You know. I started to think I was feeling better simply because I was deciding on the surgery being needed or not. If the MRI shows that you have the same issues, that would definitely warrant a talk with your surgeon. I also learned that pain isn't the determination if surgery is needed or not, my pain is still there just not as intense.
    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
  • Hey nmad19. I had a similar experience before my surgery and was wondering the same question. Remember mostly any spine surgery (besides traumatic) is completely your, the patient's, decision. Having said that I believe that you should talk to you doctor more if you're not ready; I cancelled my first surgery the night beforehand (wound up getting it anyway but I wanted another opinion). Hope you feel better :)
  • nmad19nnmad19 Posts: 5
    edited 01/20/2015 - 12:50 PM
    Thanks guys for all your helpful responses. I have spoken to the surgeon and physios but all of them have said 'it's your decision". To shed some background on the issue.

    - starting having severe back pain 2 years ago. Was a sharp back pain.
    - lived with it for about 6 months until the pain shifted to my leg, hip and buttock( constant throbbing pain). Pain would shoot when ever I looked down whilst driving and put the nerve on stretch.
    - I was struggling now to participate in all my sports and my performance was dropping
    - had an MRI which showed a disc protrusion compressing L3/L4 nerve root.
    - for the next year I tried physio, massage, core strength, corticosteroid shots which helped and the pain became intermittent rather than constant.
    - I hit a plateau and wasnt improving and still couldn't play sport! was in a terrible state of mind;( so I had another MRI which was pretty much exactly the same as the 1st according to docs
    - I was put on a 6 month waiting list for a microdiscectomy
    - in the last 3 months before the surgery my pain has gotten better, it's not constantly there. I can bring it on by doing certain exercises such as a double straight leg raise, leg press, a slump test is still very positive. However it is not troubling me in my Day to day life. I am able to play at 80% but I still get those occasional symptoms.
    - Surgeon said I can live like this or have the surgery and be 100% in 6 months.
    - My surgery is tomorrow and essentially I still have no idea what to do. I could have the surgery, do a good rehab and in 6-8 months be hopefully at a 100%. On the other hand I could avoid surgery and wait for my body's natural healing BUT what if I go backwards and get back to the depressing days :s

    This is the hardest decision I have ever made, and I don't want to be worse off after the surgery.
  • Your story and situation sound exactly like mine. Yesterday I said I'd made a descision and was going ahead but today ive changed my mind again. I wish I had the power to fast forward into the future 12 months with surgery and 12 months without to see what the outcomes would be.
    I may flip a coin on Sunday night to decide!
  • NO surgery should be about the pain factor because there is no guarantee that your pain will get any better or any worse. What it should be about is that there is an injury that hasn't healed in 2 years and you are into playing sports and being very active in your life which changes everything.

    If it were me in your shoes, due to the playing sports and very active factor combined with the fact that there is no improvement within 2 years (outside of pain in recent months), my concern would be that the activity level with sports could very easily eventually make things worse for this type of injury... SInce you are active and want to continue to be active in your life, I would proceed with the surgery (if it was me), especially if my NS was telling me that I'll be 100% eventually.

    At the end of the day, it is your decision, but remember that pain symptoms change with these types of injuries.... It can go from bad to worse in a blink of an eye, especially if you hurt yourself again and lets face it, with sports, eventually you WILL. I would take the plunge, fix the issue and continue on with my active lifestyle when I could, but that's me.

    Common sense tells me that this is the best route for preventative reasons....With surgery there is always risk, but I think that those risks are far less than the risks of doing nothing.

    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • Well, your surgeon is correct, you do have to make the ultimate decision, but it's a tough one. I've been there. I've also been in the position where there was no question I couldn't go on like that and I've been in the position of not hurting terribly but knowing that I needed the surgery without question.

    The biggest thing I would consider is this: will the surgery fix the problem? I'm not asking if it will take away the pain, but if it will fix the problem, which in your case is a herniation that hasn't gotten better in 2 years' time. It "could" heal on it's own, but it could also get much worse (and let me tell you, if you're able to play sports at any level, you haven't experienced "much worse" yet!!) I'm 36 and at it's worse, I couldn't even sit upright at all. Just getting to the bathroom left me in tears (and I have had children with no pain meds, so not a wimp!) Being in that kind of pain, needing a wheelchair to move anywhere and not even being able to sit upright in that is an extremely miserable place to be at any age.

    Then consider, if it does get worse, what kind of long-term damage can happen. With a compression for 2+ years, you probably need to consider that eventually that has to be causing some sort of nerve damage. My nerve root was severely compressed for 3-4 months, and less so for about 6 months prior to that. Unfortunately, that's all the time it took for what is likely permanent nerve damage, which is extremely painful without medication and bearable, but never gone, with strong meds. I also lost a good deal of function in one foot as a result that is quite likely permanent. (still too soon to tell, but likely).

    Surgery might not be the answer for you or it might, but you probably at least need to have some more conversations with your surgeon and ask specific questions, particularly regarding what type of long-term damage might be happening if you do nothing. It's a hard decision and you're wise not to take it lightly.
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • Guys,
    I went ahead with the surgery on the basis that the doc said I would feel as much relief as I did when I had the cortisone shot.

    In quite a lot of pain now day 1 post op.
    Muscles around the area have all spasmed.
    But otherwise feel okay!

    Thanks to everyone. All your answers helped shape my choice somewhat.
    Good luck with all your respective recoveries!
  • Fair play to you for going ahead with it. I'm in a similar situation waiting for a fusion. Some days I'm in agony and some days I feel almost pain free. Then I remember that the huge amounts of morphine have a lot to do with it, as does my activity levels. I'm going ahead. I'll have the same misgivings the day before, but I just have to trust my research and the skill of the surgeon.

    Best of luck with your recovery. Speaking from experience, don't try to do too much too soon.
    L5-S1 herniation. Both knee meniscus tear. L4-5 herniation - 2 x nerve block injections. L4-5 discectomy. L1-2 nerve block injection. L4-5 reherniation - TLIF fusion. 2016: L1-2 and L5-S1 retrolistheses and multiple facet joint degeneration.
  • The rest of your life begins now.... Work hard to reclaim it!

    Wishing u all the best in your recovery and sending healing vibes your way...

    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • nmad19 said:
    I went ahead with the surgery on the basis that the doc said I would feel as much relief as I did when I had the cortisone shot.

    In quite a lot of pain now day 1 post op.
    Muscles around the area have all spasmed.
    But otherwise feel okay!

    Thanks to everyone. All your answers helped shape my choice somewhat.
    Good luck with all your respective recoveries!
    Hope you are doing well nmad. Im happy that you made your decision. When I had my microdiscectomy I was in almost the exact same pain. Docs had me up and walking the next morning and boy that wasnt too fun lol. As I remember, first week was all a blur with the pain meds and sleep. With your active lifestyle, make sure you listen to everything your docs say. If you push yourself too much (that's our inner athlete, I was a football player) you're gonna reherniate (as I did); do what you can not too much, not too little. Don't mean to scare you but really want to put it in perspective because now I'm in line for a multi level fusion. You will be back doing what you love soon enough!!
Sign In or Register to comment.