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my dr wants me to get surgery L5

handshhands Posts: 2
edited 09/17/2015 - 7:45 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
this is my first time posting on this forum. I am a 36 year old male. I have had back pain off and on over the past couple of years. I usually treated it with a trip to the care station, pain meds and rest. I did not have any specific injury which I can relate to triggering this most recent injury to but this time it got so bad that it turned into sciatica, which I never had before. I tried to rest it but It progressively got bad enough that I finally went to an orthopedic dr. I had xrays and an MRI. I was told I had an issue with L4, L5 and S1. I believe I was ultimately diagnosed with a herniated L5 disk. I went through my 3 epidurals and they did not help very much at all. Now my Dr (who is not a surgeon) has suggested I see a spine surgeon to discuss surgery. He believes I need the L5 disk replaced. He believes it is too compressed to save. He thinks that they would have to replace it because even if they chopped off the herniation and sealed it off (these are my words not his) that there would still not be enough room for the nerve. I am currently looking for a second opinion and I would still like to look into physical therapy even though my dr suggested against it. Is that strange that my dr is against PT? I have been in pain for about 3 months. I missed a month of work and forced myself to go back because I was permitted to do so on modified duty. I had to go back due to the fact that I used a large chunk of sick days which I had built up over past years (if I run out of sick time, I don't get paid). Since returning to work I received my 3rd epidural injection and it actually helped a little as the first two did absolutely nothing. I just don't know what to do now. My dr suggests surgery and from what I've read it's 95% effective, I'm just afraid to be part of that 5%. He also told me from the start that he was against surgery because I was too young and would prob need another surgery in 10 years (to fuse?). He also told me from the start that the epidurals would prob get me back to 80% recovered and the only way to get to 100% is with surgery. I have prob only recovered about 30%.

Welcome to Spine-Health

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So many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. The more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong, The fact that your test results are negative does not mean that you are fine and without any concerns. Many times it takes several diagnostic tests and procedures to isolate a specific condition.

Here are some questions that you should answer:

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  • . Physical Therapy
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I’ve had this for years, it hurts, I cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should I get?

Diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. In many ways it’s like a game of clue. Especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! Then it’s up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. The doctor is like a detective. They need clues to help them move along. So, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. That is like it is here. Without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

Specific comments :

Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

--- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator : 09/17/15 11:17est


  • It's not a surprise that your doc has not recommended PT right now. Sometimes PT can cause more damage than good. My current PT will attest to this and some days he won't do anything for me, except some soft tissue massage. I trust him and him only (won't go near a chiro, even my own cousin who is one) Me personally, I'd say, stay far and clear from someone wanting to do traction on you. Even my spine surgeon put on my PT script "NO TRACTION" . (what sucks is that it does feel good, feeling of relief, but it's temporary)
    I've had 2 surgeries on my L4/L5/S1. First one was in 2011 & the second in January 2015 - which was a discteomy/laminectomy revision from 2011.
    Both surgeries were emergencies. The 1st one hit me out of the blue. I've had sciatica pain in the past but was able to keep it at bay w/ exercise and the occasional visit to PT. The morning after my 1st surgery, the surgeon said I had severe herniated disc with nerve compression . I asked how it happened because I really had no significant symptoms up until the day I was admitted to ER. His reply was that it's been going on for a long time and it didn't happen over night. However, I must had "done something to trigger it". Sort of like the cliche of the final straw that broke the donkeys back. (Ha, no pun intended) So i thought back and ironically enough, 3 days prior to my ER visit/surgery, I had TRACTION on my back!! Coincidence, maybe to some, but I feel pretty confident now that it played a big role.
    When your not working..rest...i know it stinks..but it helps now and later, should you need surgery. There are core strengthening exercises you might want to try to do in the meantime. Even if it's just tightening your abs while you sit at a red light . I play that game during rush hour traffic.
    Again, get as many opinions as you need before you make any decision, you gotta feel comfortable with your decision any physician/surgeon. Back surgery is a big deal!
  • DEM2015DDEM2015 Posts: 11
    edited 09/18/2015 - 5:41 AM
    in addition to the 3 epidural injections - was the medrol dose pack suggested to you? It's a steroid that you take over a course of 6 days. This actually help me more than the one epidural injection I got.
  • No I did not receive a medrol dose pack. it was not suggested. I asked my Dr for a script for PT and I just told him I want to do it. If he thinks I already need surgery, I don't think it can get much worse with PT as long as I am careful. So far on my own I have been doing the stretch called McKenzies on my own. I will start working on my core. I have also started a strict diet hoping that the loss in weight helps. I prob put on about 10lbs over the past 3 months. I want to drop 20, I already lost 5. Which did you use a neurosurgeon, or an orthopedic surgeon.
  • the stretch I was doing years ago, way before I knew what (or how to spell) sciatic nerve or what a herniated disc was, actually had a name! HAHA!
    Congrats on the weight loss, by the way.
    Mine is an orthopedic surgeon.
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