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Herniated Disc.

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am 35 year old male and I have been a firefighter for 15 years. I have had back pain for the last 8 years. I have had back injections, facet shots, MRI", physical therapy.. you get the jist. I recently was moving some boxes at work and felt pop and had some pain, but over next 4-5 days got worse to where I couldn't get off the floor. My recent MRI following this showed disc herniation at l-4,l-5 with moderate stenosis, deg disc disease. Ihave had a shot a week ago and my leg is still killing me and feel like it's getting worse. They said I will have a shot again in 3 days and if no relief, the dr will do Othroscopic micro disectomy.

My biggest fear is will this completely heal me. Will my disc be as strong, and do I have a greater risk of herniating with the job that I do. I don't want to switch carreers, however, I don't want to be crippled either...feeling very depressed.

any info would be great.



  • Sorry to hear about your back pain, I know how much it sucks as I had exactly the same herniation as you and was in all sorts of pain before I went for the MicroD surgery in January to fix it. I am glad to report I am now pain free and able to do pretty much what I want, although I have opted to take up pilates and gym based stuff rather the running I used to do as I didn't want all that impact going through my spine.

    I am a stay at home Mum to 2 little ones (age 2 and 1) so I have a pretty physical job looking after them, but probably nothing compared to what you need to do being a fireman. I think you would have to be flexible in terms of your return to work after surgery, would you be able to go on restricted duties for a while and gradually transition back into your old job? It took my a good 6 months of physio and pilates to strengthen my core muscles and feel strong again.

    As for the risk of another herniation, I think if you are going to do it the danger time seems to be in the first few weeks after the op. From what I remember reading it seems like the op is successful in around 90% of cases and I am happy to say mine was certainly one of those.

    My NS said if I ruptured at another level then I would be in with a good chance of the herniation healing like it does in most cases, around 80-90% of people will be pain free within 3-6 months of the initial injury and just because the herniation didn't self heal this time doesn't automatically mean it wont next time.

    I know there are no guarantees, but in my case the op was a massive success and it has changed my life for the better. If you feel you are out of options it might be time to consider the surgery,

    Try to keep positive, this is a great site and I am sure you will get lots of help with your decisions.

    Take care

  • Thanks so much for your response. I have a good work disability policy, however, leaving a career you love is tougher than the back pain. I will crosss that bridge when we get there. another shot this tuesday, then if still in pain, dr will do surgery??? Thanks alot for your support!
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  • Sink

    I know exactly where you are coming from. Its kind of nice to hear someone else almost in the same situation I am. I work for a Public Works in the Chicago area. I have bulging discs (work injury) L4 L5 and L5 S1. I too am scared to death about getting surgery, not because of going under the knife, but for not getting healthy enough to go back to work. I really love my job and don't want to give it up. The doctors said either do nothing and live with it, or get surgery and risk not being able to do your job. Like you I don't want to be crippled the rest of my life and I'm really sick of being home, not being able to do anything around the house or with my kids. So I guess we both have a big decision to make that may affect the rest of our lives.

    The way I'm looking at it now is this has never happened to me before, so whatever decision I make will be the right one because I have nothing to compare it too.

    Good Luck!


    P.S. Have you tried P.T? I just started an intense session of appointments, 3 times a week for 8 weeks. The therapist said if I'm not feeling any better by the 6th or 8th time that I might have to think of doing something else (surgery, TLIF).
  • I was also in the same boat I deceided to get my surgery and rested real good but when I went back to work it lasted only a couple of mounths and it reherniated and had to get another mico d and about 2 weeks later it poped now it looks like a fussion is next up . So just take it easy and don't do tomuch once you heriate it once it will do it again easier.Thats just my opinion from my experience good luck to both of you Spark and Sink.
  • I'm as well in a similar situation. I'm 36 yrs old, and was in a vehicle roll over Sept '07. I've been living with whip lash as well as 3 herniated discs since then(L3-L4 5mm, L4-L5 6mm, and L5- S1 1cm). Been off of work since then as well. I saw a NS last Thursday and he is going to do a hemi laminectomy as well as a a Microdiscectomy at the L5-S1 level, since he figures that level is pinching the nerve the most. He said he will see how I feel after the surgury and if it doesn't help he will then look at the other two. L3-L4 has a tear in the disc. L4-L5 has some spinal stenosis. I pushed it off to the end of November because I'm moving within the next month.
    I'm not looking forward to the recovery, but my concern is re-herniating that level or damaging the other two above more. My job is quite pyhsical with heavy lifting.
    Do I attempt to go back to that job and risk another injury ? Or do I look at another career.
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