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Kind of confused about something.

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I've had back pain for years. Ever since I had my son 5 years ago. Last year I started having serious pain in my right leg, to the point where sometimes Id be walking and it would just give out on me and I'd have to grab something quickly so I didn't fall. I did physical therapy, chiro, cortisone injection... Nothing worked. So they did a microdiscectomy on L4-L5. The 2nd day after surgery I had the WORST nerve paint I have ever felt in my entire life. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but I was in bed literally crying for hours. They called in some valium and steroids and by the next day it had calmed down. Eventually the pain went away for about a week or so, and since then has been coming back. I still have the sharp pain at times that shoots from my lower back to my buttocks, and the leg pain has really been focused on my right side of my calf and ankle, lately. She said it's degnerative disc disease, and the disc is really dry and not doing much. It's entirely black on the MRIs, and all my other discs are a perfect white, all healthy and doing fine. They did another MRI, and some more x-rays, where I was bending forward, and bending backwards, and I go back on the 20th. I had been going to Aquatic physical therapy, which did nothing. My physical therapist had me try something called flossing, but told me to stop if it got worse. It definitely did... A lot worse. My neurosurgeon had told me at my last appointment when she prescribed neurontin and gave me a referral for Aquatics, that the only thing left is a fusion. They have models of artificial discs in the office... And there are 3 surgeons. She didn't say artificial disc replacement was an option.. She only said fusion. Not sure exactly why that may be. Could it possibly be because of the leg pain? Or because I'm only 22, and they don't know yet the long term effects of ADR? I read the first FDA approved surgery was done in 2004... That's not long ago at all. If I had the choice, I think I'd choose ADR surgery over fusion, but it doesn't necessarily seem to be an option. I've been out of work for over a year now, and I have trouble leaning over the tub to bathe my son, can't lift him for the life of me, and I'm just tired of the leg pain. My P.T. told me if the nerve is pinched, not just getting caught on something, that it can be permanently damaged. Of course, I'd rather live my life like this than in a wheelchair, or not have life at all... But the thought of having this back and leg pain for the rest of my life seriously depresses me. The P.A. tried to tell me sometimes it just gets better on it's own. I don't believe him. My mom and sister have herniated discs and have never gotten better. Same with my aunt. Friends mom's, etc. I don't know ANYONE who's condition just disappeared and they were pain free. I need to be able to go back to work... I can't sit at home all day. I'm going insane. 22 is wayyy too young to be stuck at home. I have a 5 year old son that I miss taking to the park, or to walk around the wall, or play wrestling, just having fun. I am too restricted and I hate it. I realize there are people who have it a LOT worse, but that doesn't make my pain any less. I can't even clean my house without ending up paralyzed for a few hours afterwards. I read in many places that a one level fusion for a spine with only one area with problems is the best scenario for a successful result, but I'm worried that the fusion will put a lot of stress on the rest of my discs and end up screwing those up as well. I didn't have an accident or injury that caused DDD at l4-l5.... It just happened on it's own. Wear and tear at 22 is not common, my neuro said... Most people have it after 40 or so... And it's ONLY that one disc. I have a really minor herniation at t11-12, but it's not a big deal at all. So I guess I dont know what I should do. I can't really start my career and then end up getting even worse and needing the surgery right away, and losing my job due to taking time off... And having no one to help with my son, and no way to pay the bills, and ending up homeless. I get SSI for my son's autism, and money from the state for me because I can't work. Once I start working, I will lose that money, and if I have to stop working again I am SCREWED. I don't live with my mom, I live alone with my son, and I can't afford to have that happen. Every one constantly tells me fusion is a bad idea it will make you worse, but it's got to have been successful for some people, right? Or why else would they continue to do them? Does anyone have any suggestions or anything, I do a lot of research, but nothing is the same as personal experience from those who have been there. Sorry this is really long. I'm new to this message board thing and not sure how to use it, so if anyone has any suggestions and wants to email me ,it's Lo419@aol.com

Thanks in advance. And sorry for the novel.


  • Hi Lo,

    I don't envy you this decision. I totally understand all your concerns. You are right about the ADR still being very new. If you did go ahead and have that done, there will be no guarantee about the long term performance. My surgeon here in the UK told me last week that he is due to publish some results on ADRs and they aren't looking too promising. Fusions, however, while not perfect probably give a better result than a lot of other options. There is a lot of bad press about them, and forums are full of people who have had failed fusion surgeries. But you need to remember that those who are doing well won't be here posting, they are off enjoying their lives. I have always had a negative view of fusion but recently I've heard from so many people who have literally been given their life back after having a fusion.

    4 and half years ago I opted for a surgery that was still quite new. I knew the risks and my surgeon didn't make me any false promises, but I went ahead anyway because the recovery was quicker than a fusion. I was doing great until 10 months ago when my hardware failed and I am now in a worse state than I was before the surgery. So, I am now going be having revision surgery which involves having a fusion. It is tough having a successful surgery and then getting your life back on track, only to have it all ripped out from under you again. If I had my time over again, I would have just had the fusion in the first place. In my opinion it is better to have a surgery that takes longer to recover from and be good for a long time afterwards, than a surgery that has a quick recovery but only lasts a couple of years.

    I hope this rambling helps you to make up your mind. Good luck with whatever decision you make. Keep us posted! Take care, Spicey
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