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back surgery in 6 days for L2-3 large herniated disc - help

skipnaplessskipnaples Posts: 2
edited 01/21/2015 - 6:21 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi! I am scheduled for surgery in 6 days…first time. MRI shows "huge" herniated disc at L2-3. Numbness in left hip joint, front of left thigh and sometimes in area of spine. Numbness started 5 days ago. Impinging on nerve root. Doc says will not get any better must take herniated material out. Doc is neurosurgeon. Worried about cauda equina syndrome if no nothing. Does anyone ever return to "normal" function? How long before can walk normally? Advice re alternative treatment options vs surgery. Anything is welcome!



  • 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
  • NinaRNNinaR Posts: 3
    edited 01/21/2015 - 9:30 PM
    I also had a huge herniation in almost the same spot. Like you I have heard to avoid surgery at all costs but ended up having it anyway. A chiropractor may be able to help you get some relief, mine did wonders for me, at least i only needed surgery on one joint instead of the 8 that were injured to begin with. Its costly and painful and takes some time but in my book worth it. Also huge though it may be i would think that your dr. would want to try a steroid epidural first, in theory at least that should work but as most of us know or shall soon find out that is not always the case. After that the only thing I know of is surgery, i assume you would be getting the herniated material removed, no laminectomy, no hardware, etc. But be warned, the longer that disc stays out the more risk for permanent nerve damage. The disc can harden to the point where whats pressing on the nerve cant be removed and the only option after that is to have part of the bone removed to relieve pressure and hardware installed in its place. If youre not sure what you should do, dont ask people here , not that they arent trying to be helpful but they are like me and can only go from their own experience, get a second opinion! Try an ortho dr. even most chiropractors will tell you up front how much they think they will be able to help you and most, if you have a copy of xrays/MRIs will consult for free. Call your neurosurgeon's office, usually the nurses can give you a few names of dr.s that they would recommend for a second opinion. They wont say that there is one that they dont trust and they aren't going to bad mouth the one that they work with but believe me they are going to give you the names of doctors that they would let work on them, nurses are notorious for bad backs. A word of advice though, if a nurse ever reassuringly tells you that Dr. whoever is "really smart" or "very sweet" RUN! I swear that is code for "that one is gonna cripple someone"

    As far as life after surgery, mine is a month old (i had a laminectomy and the hardware put in but they were not able to remove the herniated material as it had been there long enough to harden and no it had nothing to do with me seeking alternative treatments first, i had other issues) and i was walking after the morphine wore off, slow and tiny baby steps with a walker but still up and walking. A month later I can walk short distances such as around the house and a quick run into the store without the walker sometimes I still need a cane, but for getting in and out of bed or chairs or taking slightly longer walks anything over 10min I'm still using the walker though i need it less and less everyday. My surgeon has serious doubts about a "full recovery" for me, given all of my issues, but is very optimistic about me getting back to 75% possibly more within 6 months and up to 85% in a year and maybe even more over time after the first year. I was a train wreck, being able to walk without a walker or a cane, even if it is only from the chair to the bathroom and back is more than I could do before the surgery. I now sleep and sit mostly without pain, my pain meds have been cut in half and for the first time in two years I actually wanted to get up and walk around. That says a lot for the surgery.

    I went in happy about it and looking forward to getting my legs back, not worried that I might have made the wrong choice for treatment. Just after surgery the pain was horrible, nothing more or less than I expected though. 27 days later I am honestly impressed with how much better the pain is and how much I am able to do now and how much easier it seems to be, even shocked at the pace of recovery. However, I trust my surgeon and his nurses COMPLETELY, if I hadn't I would never have let any of them touch me. I felt they were realistic about how much good they could do and what i would have to go through before, during and after surgery. Unlike most of the people posting on here I didnt get the company line about how there would be no pain at all after surgery and I would be up and walking and back at work in just a matter of weeks, nor did I get tall tells about a full recovery at three months. I was told to expect pain and even new and rather odd symptoms to come and go as I heal. By no means have I been allowed to believe that physical therapy is going to be fun, easy or quick. And I've been given no false hope of ever being my old self again, 85 to 90% recovery is the very best case scenario.
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