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Question L3-L4 herniated disc surgery after a year?

I've had an MRI which shows a herniated or bulging disc at L3-L4. I've had 3 sets of injections in an attempt to reduce the inflammation and prevent surgery. However, this didn't work and I'm considering the surgery. But . . I read where the success rate is reduced if the pain or problems exists for over six months and that it's best to have the surgery within 3 - 6 months. Is there anyone else out there who've had their problem for over 6 months and then had the surgery? I'd like to know if it was successful or not. I have stenosis of the spine along with neuropathy of the cervical spine at C5-C6 so I already have issues with pain, spasms, etc.. So, the addition of my sciatica is just too much to handle and it has made my life seem not worthwhile since I'm often stuck laying back in my recliner to get relief. I am just 58 but feel 78 right now! Also, I've had the cervical issues for nearly 8 yrs. now and know that it won't get any better. Secondly, my injury to the cervical region is due to a surgery that went bad. Initially the surgery was a posterior fusion due to pulled ligaments which allowed my neck to slip forward which could cause damage to my spinal cord. During that operation, somehow without notice, the disc slipped out and back against my spinal cord. I came out of the operation paralyzed at the legs and partially paralyzed in the arms. Gradually as the day wore on the paralysis got worse until my diaphram began loosing strength. Thank God they realized what occurred about 15 hrs. after the operation and rushed me back in for a second where they went in the front, removed the disc and fused the front of the same vertebra. With this in mind, you can see why I'm really nervous about having my lower back worked on but also how I feel I need it too. I just hope that after all this time (over a year) that surgery to remove the buging/ruptured disc will work. I have arthritus/bone spurs growing into the disc which caused this problem, so that will be removed as well. Anyone out there with the same experience? I'd really appreciate feedback.
William R. Heston


  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745
    i am sure that you will find your time on spine-health very rewarding. this site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    here are just some of the highlights:

    - detailed medical libraries of articles and videos that address almost every spinal conditions and treatment

    - the wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.

    - under the resource tab, there is a section doctor advice health center which can be invaluable.

    - as a bonus, spine-health provides these patient forums. here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. you will soon become part of the spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a support system. you are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 international members and growing daily.

    - it is very important to understand the forum rules to make sure all of your posts do not violate any of the rules.

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    if you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the private message facility to contact any one of the moderators on my team:
    dilauro , tamtam or liz


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I had a microdiscectomy then, a month afterwards I knew I re-injured the location. My surgeon would not listen to me and waited six months to do an MRI and show the disc had collapsed and my only option was a fusion.

    I have never recovered from the pain, I am mechanically fixed, but have failed back surgery syndrome. I know that pain, and I know how easy it is to hope the surgery will be the fix it.

    I have just had the spinal cord stimulator implanted and have been dealing with the pain much easier now. Although 38 I at least feel like a 50 yr old now, which is an improvement.

    What ever you choose to do, I wish you the most luck.
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  • Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,553
    edited 04/28/2013 - 10:49 AM
    Welcome to Spine-Health and I'm sorry to hear what you're going through. First, let me say that cervical surgery is more difficult for the surgeon and easier on the patient, whereas lumbar surgery is more difficult for the patient and easier for the doctor. Cervical surgeries are much more risky than lumbar due to the nerves being so close together and so close to the spine.

    I can certainly understand why you're leary of another surgery, but it sounds like you had a bad surgeon. I believe in finding a board-certified, fellowship-trained spine surgeon who only works on spines and has referrals you can call and can research on the internet. You can even find one here with the physician locator.

    Surgery is a very personal decision and nobody can make it for you, but keep in mind what I've said in making your decision. I've had one 3-lvl cervical surgery and two 1-lvl lumbar surgeries - the cervical was a much easier recovery than the lumbar ones, but I believe they've all been successful simply due to the fact that I no longer have nerve pain and because my spine is stable. I'll never be pain-free after three surgeries (and one more needed, hopefully waaaaaay down the road), but I have a quality of life that is doable.

    Take care and let us know what you decide.
  • Hi. I am a 41 year old male with a family of 4. All my treating MD's have deemed me disabled although the SSA is fighting my claim even though I have worked for half of my life paying into the system.
    My conditions that I have are;
    -Central Cervical Spinal Stenosis; multilevel disc's deform Spinal cord.
    -Degenerative Disc Disease                       -Degenerative Joint Disease (Osteoarthritis)
    -Osteophytes (bone spurs)                       -Herniated Discs
    -Severe Chronic Pain.                                -Scoliosis (upper back and lower)
    -Retrolisthesis.                                           - Reverse Lordosis
    -Nerve damage in both arms and right leg    (sciatica)
     -Foraminal stenosis upper and lower
     -Cervico-genic headaches (3-4 days a week)

    I have had all of these conditions for 3 years. Lumbar issues since 2009. It is now 2015. I had an MRI in 2011 showing I had L3-L4 disc severely bulged with adjacent discs bulged moderately. I had an MRI in 2013, and the dictating physician did not comment on the adjacent discs. The L3-L4 showed the disc herniated. The pain in my lumbar is now unbearable. (Having had physical therapy, (not much help) Chiropractic treatment (no help) and concluded that conservative pain management was the course to take as I was opposed to any surgery due to all the possibilities that can potentially happen. I am now being informed that I should have surgery for my lumbar, although, the last MRI was in 2013 and I believe the neurosurgeon will require a current MRI to assure no other bulges or herniation in the region as to avoid adjacent disc disease since I have degenerative joint disease. (All from genetics and no trauma)
    I am petrified!! I have read countless clinical studies, as well as federal clinical studies on these kinds of surgeries. All stating that the outcome is a low favorable outcome. (Not eliminating the pain, etc.)
    I am still fighting the SSA and will until they finally decide to get off their high horse and pay what they are supposed to pay. (According to their information, my children and spouse qualify for the survivors benefits) my lawyers are puzzled as well as any medical doctor, or individual I explain this too. I am attempting to meet with our states congressman as to prove that I am what I say and validating my conditions symptoms.
    My family is becoming affected due to the struggling fight we have had as well as seeing my decline. (Have been living in my inlaws basement for 7 years now)
    I have been saying how sad it is that if I were to commit suicide that the SSA would have no choice but to approve the benefits. I just don't know what else to do anymore. Thank you for taking the time to read my comment. Surgery is a very scary issue for me with all the conditions I have especially having the states medical insurance and there aren't many neurosurgeons that accept it as well as what types of procedures that are actually covered.

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