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Three herniated discs; Dr. doesn't want to do surgery

Mike305MMike305 Posts: 2
edited 05/21/2015 - 6:56 AM in Lower Back Pain
I've been dealing with this for over 4 years and this is under workers compensation. The pain has come and gone over the years with countless back spasms. I've had at least 6 epidurals, trigger points and countless hours of PT. My primary Dr asked for a second opinion from another Dr; who looked at my MRI, got the history of the problems from me then and then ordered a discogram that was performed. The discogram showed, or I guess what I verbalized when it was being done but have no recollection, the Dr told that can happen, that I have pain on all 3 levels and will not do a fusion.

I never wanted surgery and that's why I held out so long without ever saying I wanted it. I finally came to the conclusion that I NEED it, and when this Dr told me he wouldn't do it, it threw me for a loop. He said from his experience that doing any surgery on 3 levels with the pain that I have; mostly in the back with sometimes down the leg, that it will probably only make the situation worse. I believe him since he turned down easy money since my WC would have probably authorized it if he said it was needed. I'm now really scared of dealing with this pain for the rest of my life with no solution.

If anyone has been in the same situation any information on your experience would help. Thanks


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
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  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 556
    4 years is a long time to be dealing with the same pain & getting no relief? Have you gotten another opinion? I would get all your test results & mri's & get a second or even third opinion.
    Good luck & keep us posted.
  • Herniated discs do not always require surgical action. I know that's not what you want to hear but in many cases the herniations can be reabsorbed and heal themselves. A fusion is only indicated if there is a structural (usually vertebral) abnormality such as retrolisthesus, vertebra collapse, instability or acute trauma) and so in that regard I think your surgeon is correct. That said, a minimally invasive discectomy could possibly help you? Get a second opinion and ask about the discectomy and whether or not it is indicated in your own case. Good luck!
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • Thanks for your replies. They say since most of my pain is in the back, not the legs, that disectomy would not be the answer. After researching I agree with the Dr that I should not have a fusion on 3 levels. I've had shooting pain down both legs, but never for too long and not nearly as bad as the pain in my back. I think that is one of the reasons why both doctors were not sure how to go about doing a disectomy.

    I'm going to see if I can switch to the Dr that said he would not do surgery because he offered up different ways of pain management than my original Dr. The original just sends you to the pain management Dr in his company that just does epidurals and trigger points, which have done really nothing for me.
  • Life is frustrating at times and chronic pain as well! You didn't say which discs are affected? Ihave had lower back problems with lots of back pain for approx 25 years and refused a fusion in 1995, 2 years after my second pregnancy. I opted for physio first, no help, then eventually found a good osteopath who help get me back in line and then sent me to the gym for a controlled, restricted routine to help build my core, to offer protection against further damage. I still believe i made the right choice even though i have now had to have surgery due to severe herniation, L5/S1 which trapped the nerve. If this had not happened I would not have even considered surgery .
    I hope you are able to find the right help to deal with back pain. However, should you encounter a trapped nerve, tingling or numbness in your legs I would strongly suggest immmediate contact with your doctor. Unfortunately the waiting times for me were too long and I have been left with permanent numbness in thigh, calf and 3/4 of my left foot, so push for treatment if these symptoms appear
    L5/S1 herniation Apr 2013
    nerve root injections Oct 2013
    L5/S1 discectomy Jan 2014
    L5/S1 nerve roo &, facet joint injections & edpidural Jan 2015
    L5/S1 revised discectomy, L4/L5 discectomy & Wallis Inswing Stabilisation L4/L5 May 1st 2015

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