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herniated disc-surgery or not?

michellemmmichellem Posts: 1
edited 09/28/2015 - 8:56 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hello All! I am in need of any opinions/advice/encouragement. This may be lengthy but I feel it is necessary to know the whole story/series of events. My boyfriend is the injured one and I have been there to help in every way I can. Certain things I wish we would have done differently (been smarter about) but you live and you learn, unfortunately its been a pretty rough year. We are both pretty young (24/25)and have been lucky enough to have never dealt with a serious medical issue until now. So, if you are kind enough to take some time to read this and comment, I greatly appreciate it.

He severely herniated his disc (lower back) a year ago, there were other complications with surrounding muscles. The injury is from lifting/packing heavy amplifiers into boxes at work, he initially did not know how severe his injury was (he has a high pain tolerance, thought he just threw out his back), we waited a month or so before going to a doctor and during that time he continued to work which most likely made it worse. He also saw a chiropractor who said he had degenerative disc disease, had one adjustment which also could have made it worse.

After seeing an orthopedic doctor and having an MRI to confirm the disc herniation he was referred to do PT, he went 3 times a week for about 4 months till workers comp said he had reached his maximum number of visits for a year. He continued to do everything he could at home. About the time he had to stop PT he had a cortisone injection which helped for a week….maybe. He has not taken any prescription pain killers, just ibuprofen as needed and Zyflamend whole body (supplement with turmeric, ginger, etc to help with the inflammation). The pain had been fluctuating, some good weeks, some bad.

Now it's about a year later, bad weeks have taken over and we really need to consider surgery (i think). We had hoped for signs of improvement with the conservative approach but the follow up MRI showed that the herniation has gotten worse. We want to try everything we can to not resort to surgery. I have read all sorts of things online, some say it is possible for it to heal on it's own with conservative methods in a few months but this is not the case for him. We do not want to wait too long and risk permanent damage but there is also risk in surgery and it's no guarantee. He has had extreme anxiety his whole life and this is not an easy decision. He can walk 2 miles, of course he has chronic pain and some sciatica but if he can be somewhat active is holding off on surgery a good/okay option? I feel like we waited too long to see a doctor which could have prevented it from being so severe so I do not want to make the same mistake by waiting too long to have him get surgery! There are so many factors, another thing is that he does not get good rest and sleep is a big part of the healing process. We are getting a second opinion in the upcoming month but here are some things I'd appreciate some feedback on….

Any advice on different conservative methods to try?
How long is too long to wait to get surgery? (i feel some people get surgery right away because they need to get better quick, where we are willing to wait it out and see if it can be avoided)
Any personal experiences with having surgery or a long-term conservative recovery?

So confused/unsure of what to do….this has increased his anxiety levels, he has been depressed and I'm pretty sure he has PTSD(having nightmares of botched surgery).

Welcome to Spine-Health

One of the most important things that members can do is to provide the rest of the community with as much information about themselves as possible. It is so very difficult for anyone to respond when we do not have enough information to go on. This is not meant to indicate that you are doing anything wrong or violated any rule, we are just trying to be pro-active and get the information upfront so that people can start responding and your thread is more effective.

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:

  • - When did this first start?

    . Year, Your age, etc
- Was it the result of an accident or trauma?
- Are there others in your family with similar medication conditions?
- What doctors have you seen? (Orthopedic, Neurosurgeon, Spine Specialist, etc)

  • . Which doctor did you start with? Ie Primary Care Physician
    . Who are you currently seeing?
- What Conservative treatments have you had? Which ones?

  • . Physical Therapy
    . Ultrasound / Tens unit
    . Spinal Injections
    . Acupuncture
    . Massage Therapy
- What diagnostic tests have you had? And their results (MRI, CTScan, XRay, EMG, etc)

  • . Summarize the results, please do not post all details, we cannot analyze them
    . How many different tests have you had over the years? Similar results?
- What medications are you currently using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)

  • . Name of Medication
    . How long have you been using this?
    . Results
- Has surgery been discussed as an option? (If so, what kind)
- Is there any nerve pain/damage associated?
- What is your doctor’s action plan for treating you?

Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
of your situation and make it easier to respond.

Please take a look at our forum rules: Forum Rules

I also strongly suggest that you take a look at our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) which can be found at the top of the forum menu tab or by going to FAQ There you will find much information that will

  • - Help you better utilize the Spine-Health system
    - Provide pointers on how to make your threads / posts
    - Tips on how to create your avatar (your picture), posting images, etc
    - General pieces of valuable information

Please remember that no one at Spine-Health is a formally trained medical professional.
Everything that is posted here is based on personal experiences and perhaps additional research.
As such, no member is permitted to provide

  • - Analysis or interpretation of any diagnostic test (ie MRI, CTscan, Xray, etc)
    - Medical advice of any kind
    - Recommendations in terms of Medications, Treatments, Exercises, etc

What could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
You should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

It is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). It is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are

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 : 09/28/15 14:56 est

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