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Discectomy or disc replacement?

DanielleebrownnDDanielleebrownn Posts: 1
edited 09/29/2015 - 2:35 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi there,
I've been suffering from a 3.5mm disc bulge and annular tear in my L5S1 for about a year and a half now. I had an Mri in June 2014 from an injury showing a 3 mm disc bulge at the L5S1 with no nerve compression. I was on anti-inflammatories for 3 months and didn't get much relief (also doing PT during this time). I stuck with PT and tried 2 epidural shots which did absolutely nothing. Had a facet block and again, no relief. A year of living with this pain, I got another Mri which showed the same 3.5 mm disc bulge at L5S1 and now a very small 1mm bulge at the L4. Feeling like I've been getting progressively worse over the year, I was suggested to get a discogram. The discogram proved that my L5S1 inflicted unbearable pain and also showed an annular tear at that level. Now I have options and I'm completely lost. One neurosurgeon suggested a disc replacement of my L5S1. Another neurosurgeon suggested a micro discectomy and if that didn't work, then a fusion. I've heard really awful things about fusions causing other discs to degenerate. I want to give the micro discectomy a shot but I really just want this to be over with and not have to go through the recovery to find out I will need another surgery. I'm heartbroken at how this has ruined my life. I'm only 21 and I can't imagine living another year with the pain that I've been dealing with. So I'm hoping someone out there may be able to offer some advice on what surgery worked for them and their experience. I'm having a hard time finding someone with a L5S1 huge, L5S1 tear (minimal bulge in L4) and with no leg pain.

Danielle brown


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    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 Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 732
    edited 09/30/2015 - 8:47 PM
    Dear Dainiel...

    Forum Rule:
    5.06 You agree not to post information that is considered to be formal medical advice.

    Your post contains wording that may be considered as giving medical advice. It is very important that everyone understand that
    there are no medical professionals on this site, so therefore any comments are solely opinions based on personal experiences.
    They should never been taken as medical fact.

    Liz, spine-health Moderator
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 732
    edited 10/02/2015 - 7:32 PM
    Dear Daniel

    I tried to offer you my PERSONAL NON-PROFESSIONAL advise in the above post based on my experience but the overly zealous forum moderator Liz decided I sounded too much like a doctor so she blitzed my entire input. Sorry... I guess the only thing that is allowed on this forum is to say the generic and pretty much useless info of ... I'm sorry your hurting please consult your doctor and I hope you get better soon.

    I am sorry you find the rules hard to abide by I will pass on your complaint.
    You were sent a PM explaining why the posts were edited and all moderators were in agreement with the action

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • slaftermansslafterman Posts: 3
    edited 10/08/2015 - 3:29 AM
    Hang in there dude, Sucks that your having this issue at your age, but on the flip side, youll recover alot faster. Typically Dr's and insurance companies make you jump thru hoops to get to the treatment you should have had the first go around. The epidurals made mine worse(L5S1) and landed me on the table sooner than i planned. And honestly, My dr. gave no options, just cut off the herniation remove frags from nerve. So basically from what i gather from others is its very rare just to jump right in and get a new disk. Sorry for your pain, hope you get better soon
  • HI, I have dealt with damaged discs in my spine since 1976. What I have learned is all of the pre-surgery things, such as PT, do help a lot of people. Just not you. You are right to get 2 opinions on the best path to go. Since they give you conflicting suggestions, get a third opinion. I have had a bulging C disc removal and fusion, and have not had it cause another level to collapse. In fact the surgery was so painless, and the removal of the pain I did have so wonderful, that I wanted to go home the next day. Do wear any collar or brace they give you for the whole time you are told to. You will get your life back as I did.
    Still Walking
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