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Conservative Therapy experiences

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Alternative Treatments
I posted this in the Pain forum and then realized this would probably be a better place. :)

I'll give you a bit of history first..
I am 30 yrs old and have had pinched nerve "issues" in my right hip for approx. 10 yrs. Nothing bad...I'd go to the chiro and he'd fix me up and I'd be good to go.
Well, this time it was ALL different. on Nov 11/3/08 I went to the chiro (one I usually don't see) with the "usual" pinched nerve in my hip. I woke up 11/5 early a.m. in excrutiating pain in my pelvis/upper left leg. I thought I was in labor all over again.
I then went to my "usual" chiro for the next week and 1/2 or so 3x a week and didn't really get any better.
To make this short..I had an X-ray done by my Primary Dr which then he referred me to get an MRI. He also put me on the Medrol dose pack and that seemed to help a bit. A few days later I had to get some pain meds from him.

The MRI I had done was on 11/19 and showed:
L2-L3 small central disc protusion with associated annular fissure. Mild spinal canal stenosis.
L3-L4 very large extruded disc as described severly narrowing the spinal canal/lateral recesses.
L4-L5 disc buldge with associated annular fissure with moderate L4-L5 neural foraminal narrowing.

I saw a Neurosurgeon on 12/1 and he recommeded a nice hefty back brace (not the turtle one) and to take it easy (no lifting, etc) for the next month to see if my body will "dissolve" the disc fragment. If it does, I will then go on to physical therapy and possible epid. injections if needed.
I also had the EMG done and it showed significant weakness in my left foot. ( I can't pass any of the strength tests he manually does on my foot either).

Now to fast forward to today.
I went back to see the neurosurgeon and he "excused" me from the surgery list. YIPPEE....I am terrified of having back surgery.
He wrote me orders to go through physical therapy (to include aquatherapy) for the next 6 weeks. It also has ultrasound, massage, and strengthening listed on there.
His major concern is my foot drop issues I am having on the left side.
If I don't show improvement by the end of Jan, he said he will then again look towards surgery.
So...here are my thoughts/questions (PLEASE post if you have any experience)..
Will the therapy or has it for you helped in the nerve not being pinched?
What in your experience helped the most to unpinch the nerve? At this point this is my biggest issue!!
I still wonder if traction or spinal decompression would help unpinch the nerve better?!?!? --- He said he didn't want me to do it right now though.
I was so excited I "dodged" one surgery for now. I want to be sure and do anything I can to strengthen up my foot and "pass" his test at the end of Jan.
Any thoughts / experiences would be GREATLY welcome!!!


  • When choosing your Physical Therapist make sure he/she has a strong foundation in Neurological/Orthopedic issues. Some pts have this as their speciality, and they tend to know more about nerves. I have nerve issues, and have done pt, swim, accup., massage, tens, ultrasound, and laser. I guess it all depends on what is pinching the nerve. In my case it is a herniated disk, 10+ months of being conservative has made me ready for surgery. I sometimes wonder if the providers can help, and sometimes worried that more harm could occur. This is only my opinion, but I know I wanted to do all I could before I went surgical route so there are no regrets, like the what ifs... :S
  • I had physio but not water and mostly it helped loosen up some muscles and also was given excercises to strengthen core muscles and do some excercises at home since I finished physio. I would try anything before surgery also. Maybe get a second opinion lined up now because of the wait time before you get surgery. I mean if you get surgery. Take care. We'll be here to support you. 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 it all ...you name it!

    Acupuncture, a great chiropractor, Physical Therapy, 1 (one) Epidural, Pain meds, Lots of core exercises...

    when it's time for surgery, it's time for surgery...

    I did have a degenerative disc w/arthritis and a disc herniation of 6mm.

    Had the back surgery w/great results! Got off all those "toxic" drugs. Although my T reading on my liver is off, probably caused by pain meds and that alone is a reason to get surgery to get off pain meds.

    I can feel my nerves healing (yes had 3 months of nerve damage) and drop foot or weakness. I cannot stand on my tippy toe while holding onto a table (or such).

    It was a quick 30 min surgery. Tons of pain relief. Off all the meds in about 10 days. Sleeping at night (yea!), driving and sitting with no pain.

    The first 4 days post surgery are horrible but after that the healing process is so fast that you'll see why so many people re-injure themselves.

    Find a great doctor. Get at least 2 opinions and if both agree on surgery, then it may be time.

    My chances of recovery w/conservative care was only 15% and that didn't fly with me and I was just DONE with the 24 hour pain situation. Pain always hovered around 2-3 and if I didn't time my meds right it shot up to 8-10.

    I was SO DONE with conservative care that I left my HMO because they were blocking me from getting surgery by not even allowing me to see a surgeon. They kept sending me to a Physical Medicine doctor (pain/rehab doctor)... those loosers! Couldn't even get an opinion from a surgeon. Got onto a PPO (group plan with no restrictions on pre-existing condition) and I LOVE IT and will never go back.

    Just don't wait too long because you can get permanent nerve damage. Ask you doctor about that possibility. That was also a deciding factor. I love hiking, swimming, agility with my dogs... etc. I want my foot, ankle and leg to work!! You probably do too!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,526
    Conservative treatments can go a long way in attempting to help a spinal problem and avoid surgery.
    Use our FAQ that will explain some more about the different conservative treatments, plus click on the
    Spine-Health Treatment tag for more info.

    When it comes to correcting a nerve problem, you need to know the cause of the problem.
    Pinched nerves can be caused by
    - Herniated discs
    - Bone spurs
    In many cases the cause of the problem can be corrected by
    conservative treatments along with either prescription or OTC medications.
    When the cause of the nerve problem is from a disc impinging on a nerve root, then many times, those treatments will not correct the situation and surgery is required.
    When this is the situation, you do not want to what a long period of time before correcting it. The longer you wait with a nerve problem like this, the potential for a longer recovery time (for nerve pain) and the risk of permanent nerve damage.
    On my Lumbar surgery #3, I waited about 6 months to see if I could correct it, plus I really wasnt all that excited about having another spinal surgery. As a result, I have some permanent nerve damage in my right leg, below the knee and part of my right foot.
    Best advice, discuss all your options with your doctor, understand the Pros and Cons of conservative treatment now and when surgery should be considered

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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