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Microdisectomy or fusion for bulging discs?

I’m 19 years old, hurt my back about 10 months ago. I got a MRI and it showed I had 2 bulgding discs. At first I started with really bad back pain but after a month I began experiencing bad siatic pain on my butt and right leg. So I did about a month of physical therapy, did the spinal decompression machine and both didn’t really do much. 

With time the siatic pain went away, however, I still couldn’t/ can’t lift my right leg or bend over without back pain. I also got an epidural injection that didn’t really do much but numb the back I feel like. 

The doctor says I’m too young for surgery but in all honesty, I’m fed up of the pain and don’t know what to do. Cant even work without low back pain, play sports or anything of that matter. 



  • Surgery is a double-edged sword. Does it help? Most likely. The problem is that it induces another problem, one that will evolve over time. And this will lead to more back problem, and possibly more back surgeries. 

    Try another injection. I know it may sound pointless but try it again. Surgery really is the last resort and being so young, you need to exhaust all your options. I know it's frustrating to hear, but once you go down the rabbit hole of surgery, there is no coming back.


    It's not a sprint, it's a marathon 

  • I agree with Azsgolf about surgery being a rabbit hole.  I had a four-level ACDF done in January when I had lost grip strength in my left hand. The MRI showed posterior and anterior cord compression.  There were bulging disks and bone spurs. The neurosurgeon told me I was at risk of total paralysis or even death if I was rear-ended in a car or fell down a few steps.  It was that serious. But most responsible neurosurgeons (I would absolutely avoid an orthopedic surgeon for a spinal issue) will tell you to avoid surgery until you cannot. Mine told me that stabilizing C3-C7 meant there would be instability at C2 and C8, and that they would be more vulnerable to wear and tear in the future. I am old enough to get AARP mailings, so twenty years down the road is not as big an issue to me as it is to you.  That’s why he called it a “rabbit hole”.  

    But on the other hand, if the problem is more than bulging disks—if bone spurs appear on future MRI’s and there is severe stenosis, spondylosis and especially spinal cord compression—then you probably must deal with it surgically or you might risk paralysis. If it is just spinal or peripheral nerve compression, then absolutely try other medical modes first (muscle relaxants, gabapentin, acetaminophen, NSAIDs, and (gasp) opioids, along with massage and physical therapy). Invest in a few extra large cold packs And lie on them a few times a day. And re opioids: even though they are being villified due to abuse, if the pain gets to an unbearable state, talk with your doctor about prudent use of them.  It still might be better than being cut apart and and screwed back together. At some point, you might have to bite the bullet and go down the rabbit hole. Just be aware that there are long-term costs to diskectomy/fusion, so don’t jump in until you’ve exausted other options and cannot deal with the pain.  And be extra careful about numbness. It is a different animal from pain and could be a sign of cord compression. I went down that rabbit hole of waiting too long to deal with slight numbness that years later suddenly became significant numbness due to cord compression. I have talked about that bit of surgery in a different post. Hope this helped.

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  • Ooops, sorry folks: I forgot that the forum rules state I should not be making recommendations or suggestions.  Since I can neither edit nor delete my earlier post, let me make a discalaimer that what I really meant to say was that those were things I would do myself and I was not recommending them to anyone else.

  • Thanks for the advice! I really need to get back to work since i havent done anything this year. 

  • Hi there, I sympathise with your pain, really. 

    I had two bulging discs as well as sciatica in my right leg for four months. I’m turning 19 in a week and just had a disectomy a few days ago. 

    Best. Desicion. Ever. 

    Although, be aware my case had gotten so bad it was affecting the strength in my right leg and the nerves that control my bladder. 

    Just because I had surgery does NOT mean that I hadn’t tried everything. I tried physio for a solid month and wanted to get injections but by the time I got my second MRI my discs had gotten majorly herniated and it was not an option. 

    Yes I’m young and yes surgery is supposedly ‘bad’ to do this early in life but I can say that my recovery is going great and it’s better than living with pain that made me bed ridden for days at a time. 

    BUT!!!!! Surgery can be expensive if you don’t have cover or your country or hospital does not have universal healthcare (left there without paying, thank god!) it can be difficult to get seen or get surgery. Also recovery is a long road. It may be shorter or longer depending on the circumstances.

    My point is, it may be worth it to schedule a meeting with a Neurosurgeon rather than wait and be sent to emergency like me (it was not pleasant) 

    Not a recommendation just a thought. 

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  • Did you have surgery on both of the discs? Glad to hear you’re doing better! 

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