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What would you do?

eajosepheeajoseph Posts: 315
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have had a lot of people who I am sure mean very well try to push me into doing things that I am not sure is necessary. My neurosurgeon says it's time to do surgery.

I tried PT and that made things worse. I did pain management and coritsone injections. That was he!! and did not help. The problem I am having is that two discs are degnerating and I am having compression on the nerve canal. This is causing numbness and pain and a whole bunch of issues for me. Pain meds make me very sleepy so I am limited on how much I can take. The PM was left scratching his head saying that my side effects were so bad that he was out of options. The PM referred me back to the neurogsurgeon and said I'm a surgery candidate. I asked the PM and my neuro about other treatment options, accupuncture, inversion table, etc, they both said it won't help.

I've researched this online to the point that I cannot read any more. Everything we have tried and the results, or lack thereof, point to the same place every time. I've read info at the Mayo Clinic website and countless others.

So many people are pushing me to get a second opinion. Driving the distance to see another doctor would cause a lot of pain. Plus I do like the doctor I have right now. I've heard lots of good things about him and am comfortable with him. My hubby is going with me tomorrow to discuss where we go from here and meet the neuro.

Do I politely tell everyone thanks but no thanks? Or do I attempt to get in to see another dr? The neuro was upfront in the beginning and said that he did not want to do surgery on me (I'm too young at 40). If surgery is the way to go, I want to do it in January since my MIL will be here to help with my kids. The really good neuros within an hour drive are usually booked pretty solid for at least 6 weeks to see a new patient.

IDK what to do. Advice? Suggestions? thanks.


  • It's always a good idea to have more than one opinion when going into spine surgery. Often insurance companies require it.

    It sounds like your pain management doctor is of the same opinion as your surgeon. It also sounds like you have tried all the conservative methods of treatment, so it is not like you are rushing into this.

    No one here can tell you what to do, but if you are comfortable with your surgeon, I think that is a good sign. Our friends and family can be pushy sometimes, but please know they are probably just acting out of concern for you. Is it possible to go ahead and get your surgery date scheduled and then work on getting a 2nd opinion? That way if the other surgeon agrees, you are already set up to proceed with surgery.

    It is a difficult decision to make, but knowing that you feel comfortable with your surgeon is a good sign. Good luck.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Hi eajoseph

    I am in the same boat with pretty much the same condition.

    I am scheduled to have a two level disk fusion in Jan.

    I have a brother who just had a disk replacement by a Dr. in Colorado, who is suppose to be one of the best! He asked his doc about a double fusion and he responded "friends don't let friends have a double fusion."

    I don't know what to do, it has been fifteen years like this and I need to do something! I have asked my ortho surgeon about a disk replacement and single level fusion and he says that is not an option because of the strain put on adjoing levels after a fusion. After reading the forums I am seeing alot of peolpe going in for second and third fusions on adjoing levels.

    What to do is a mystery!
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  • I had one opinion and didn't feel the need to run around town asking various doctors what they thought. I knew this doctor and I was completely comfortable with him. All of my family members tried to convince me about it being a really stupid idea not to get other opinions. I knew my body and he had my test results. In these situations time is of the essence. Permanent nerve damage or possible paralysis in my case just weren't things I wanted to face. I saw my MRI with my own two eyes. That was enough convincing for me. No other doctor would have suggested anything less than surgery for my condition. So why get a second and third opinion when I already knew the answer. You seem to have alot of confidence in your current doctor and feel very comfortable with his opinion so I say "Listen to your body and your doctor and let the rest be a bunch of white noise." It was easy for my well-meaning family to give me lots of advice when they had absolutely no idea what I was going through.
  • I cannot even begin to tell you the number of doctors and treatment plans I had for my spine problems over the last 20 years. Most of them left me with nothing but frustration added to the pain. Last year, because of a change in insurance at the company I work for...I was forced to switch doctors. It meant starting all over again with yet another doctor. I was ready for another long battle but fortunately this doctor was different. He actually listened to what had and had not worked in the past and listened to what I thought should happen. We tried a more specialized form of PT along with the injections in hopes that it might be the answer. It wasn't and when he felt that it was beyond his capabilities to treat he sent me to a neurosurgeon. First of all...I have never in the past 20 years had a dr tell me that it was beyond his capabilities. I appreciated that honesty more than I can begin to express. My first meeting with the neurosurgeon....I don't know how to explain it but I felt like...FINALLY!! It was just a feeling I had that this was the dr I had been looking for. He actually looked at all of my MRI's and x-rays for the past 20 years to get an understanding of the progression of my problems. He explained to me why the PT wasn't working and why it would not work. He explained everything...the workings of the spine...what was going on in my spine. He laid everything out there and told me what my options were. He also explained what he felt would happen with each option and in the end...I felt very comfortable going into surgery. I didn't feel like I needed another opinion. Before the surgery, a lot of people were telling me that this dr was the best and that either they or someone they knew had used him. My surgery was a success, if only for the fact that for the first time in 20 years...I wake up every morning free of pain. I guess what this long rambling reply is trying to say is....sometimes you just know. If you feel comfortable with this doctor...listen to what your own instincts are telling you.
  • How long have you had your pain for? Can't you get an orthopedic surgeon's advice or NeuroSurgeon second opinion? It doesn't mean you have to give up your Neurosurgeon for surgery. I really couldn't give any advice if you'll be better after the surgery or if you'll have damage to you're nerve waiting only a Doctor can decide that. I've been off 9 months and am going to a second PM Dr. for his opinion about treatment. I heard even time could heal it by itself. You could ask your surgeon that and if you waited longer would that cause nerve damage. That would be my questions to him. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
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  • I did not get a second opinion. I am a nurse and I asked a lot of nurses who knew my NS, and everyone said great things about him. I had some co-workers (postpartum nurses) who discouraged me. I considered going to UCSF for a second opinion, as there was no other local NS that I had heard good things about. Going there would have meant commuting about 2 hours each way. I was concerned about having a ride for follow-up, as I am a single mom. I deciding to stick with my original NS, and I am happy I did so. Good-luck in your decision. Only you can make it, and it is a very hard one indeed. I totally understand how you feel.
    >:D< Cali-Sue
  • IMy injury was work related and I had been sent to an Orthosurgeon who I really liked. Like you I was told I had tried everything possible that may help so surgery was the only answer.
    I expected to be sent to see other Drs as well but Workers comp gave the go ahead without. I had no choice in the matter and if i wanted a second opinion it would have cost me $hundreads of my own money which I didn't have.
    Because I was really comfortable with this Dr I saw I was happy to go ahead. He was upfront, honest, patient and best of all he was happy for me to ask as many questions as I liked without pushing me out the door.
    If you are happy with the neurosurgeon then go with him but if you are not quite sure if surgery is the right thing then why not see an orthosurgeon.

    Blessings Sara O:)

    P.S. I did have a few friends who really didn't want me to have the durgery and were pretty negative about it- I decided to avoid then until after my surgery as I didn't need that negitivity around me when I was doing everything I could to make it successful.
  • I also didn't get a second opinion with either surgery. I wish that I had with the first and I didn't have a choice with the second (not that I needed one with that doc). Like the others said, it sounds like you feel very secure with your current surgeon and have a good relationship with him. A second opinion will only validate what he has to say. It may be possible to send your records to another doc and do a long-distance opinion without having to do the drive. Give a call around and see if that's an option.

    I have a huge problems with medications as well. If you're interested, PM me and I can tell you what I've been through and what's worked for me long term.

    I hope you get things settled soon. It's not an easy decision to make and only you can do it. Don't let anyone push you into something that you aren't comfortable with.

    Good luck to you,
  • ...the PM I sent you.
  • Trust me, go for the 2nd opinion before having surgery. I thought I did my research but between the intense pain and the 3 month fight with my insurance company that refused to pay for disc replacement, I rushed into getting a fusion without having a second opinion. I am regretting it. Now I've had the surgery and still in pain and at times it is worse than pre surgery. I only went to an orthopedic and am now considering a neurologist since I am still having a lot of nerve pain. I wished I had checked with the neuro first then I would have no regrets whether I did the right thing or not. Now I will never know.
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