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Unsure about surgery

SneaksSSneaks Posts: 11
edited 05/15/2013 - 7:16 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm 29. I had leg pain since I was 9 (which was put down to growing pains), and when I was 20 the back pain hit and both my legs were cramping etc on walking. I had an unsuccessful epidural and disc injections, followed by an X-stop decompression at L4-L5 which worked for a while, but for about 6-7 years now I've had recurring slipped discs and while I have ok periods where I can walk ok, I go through months every year of not being able to walk more than 10m without the cramping coming on.

I saw the orthapaedic registrar this week. He says that if I slip another disc (I think its L4 that has bulged out and there's spinal stenosis) I could be at risk of paralysis which has freaked me out! He also says if I continue with the nerve compressed I'll end up with a dropped foot and lack of feeling/power in my legs (even though I've been like this for 7 years already!) He says I need a laminectomy and a discectomy, although the MRI was taken a week after my worst 'slip' in a year so my thinking is that it might have got a bit better by now, although I'm still getting a numb foot in the shower and pain when walking.

I'm quite scared about this and have no idea what I should do, I've read so many people saying they were worse off after a laminectomy. I've got to see the proper big surgeon at some point to discuss further, but I was told I'd need to make a decision to get the ball moving.

My husband and I are also wanting to start a family and have no idea whether its better for me to get pregnant before the surgery and then they can repair what has gone wrong during pregnancy, or do the surgery beforehand.


  • theniceicemanttheniceiceman Posts: 11
    edited 05/15/2013 - 3:32 PM
    Honestly, I am not incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to your condition, but I can definitely understand the impasse you're at. Do you risk not having the surgery and getting paralyzed, or do you risk having the surgery and being in more pain? Personally, I would probably have the surgery, because, in my mind, paralysis is worse than pain. Definitely get a second (and perhaps third and fourth) opinion, and find out all the information you can. Best of luck to you.
  • Second, third, forth opinions are always good as far as I'm concerned. The decision for surgery is not easy at all.

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  • SneaksSSneaks Posts: 11
    edited 05/18/2013 - 9:44 AM
    Thanks, I think I'm going to go for it. I keep on hearing people describe my level of pain and how they've had it for 2 months or something, I've had mine since 2007 and I think its time to at least try to put an end to it. My functioning is steadily decreasing and its stopping me doing simple things now.

    It's the pregnancy thing I'm not sure of, but in going to speak to the surgeon about the implications and whether to do it before/ after.
  • Kiki48KKiki48 Posts: 196
    edited 05/18/2013 - 12:21 PM
    It's nice to come to a decsion!! Keep us posted. I'd be interested in what he says about pregancy. Best of luck. I hope you keep us updated on your progress. Also as you probably have seen they have threads for the month of surgery for surgery buddies. Might be nice of some added support.

  • HI, just thought I'd chime in. I can't say it enough... fix your spine before your pregnancy. Pregnancy can be difficult, and taking care of an infant is tough even in good healthy... and those infants turn into toddlers. Toddlers need to be chased and carried, and some can weigh a good bit! A good spine surgeon can help you prepare for pregnancy. I also see where your first post said you weren't sure if they could fix you "during" pregnancy... I can answer that... if you require surgery to fix an issue unless it is life threatening to you or your child (and rarely are spine issues life threatening) they will not do surgery. That would leave you months in pain (and pregnancy can make your pain worse, especially as you gain weight).

    I wish you the best of luck. I hope you are able to have a successful surgery and start growing your family soon. Keep us updated.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
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  • Thanks for the advice. Yes, I think any surgery would definitely have to be either well before we tried to have a baby, or well after I'd have it (and to fix anything that had got worse during the pregnancy, if that makes sense, so if my spine snaps off or something, I'll have the baby, then have the surgery to fix it - if I'm advised to wait for the surgery that is). I do worry about having a child though, I can barely pick up my dog - actually picking her up slipped my disc a month or so ago (she's 13kg)

    I'll come and join a surgery-buddies thread when I know the date, still waiting for an appt with mr-bigwig to discuss my options, and then will have to wait a few weeks/months for the surgery to be scheduled (I'm in UK so having to sit on the waiting list, but then its free so I'm happy to do so!)

    Last night I spoke to a woman (parent of a friend of my nieces - niece went on a playdate there), whose husband is a neurosurgeon, I casually dropped in that I was waiting for surgery, but asked if should I speak to a neurosurgeon, her advice was that I should and never go to an orthopaedic surgeon. My surgeon is definitely an ortho person. I've read the sticky thread on ortho/neuro but still not sure if I should try and get an opinion from a neuro-surgeon (her husband was clearly not going to offer btw!). But to do so will involve waiting, possibly a lot longer for surgery, given that it will take weeks to get all the consultations etc. My legs are really getting me down now, dog walking is becoming a nightmare! So not sure whether to wait or just go with the ortho guy (who did my previous surgery) and get it done ASAP.

  • This has been discussed at length on multiple threads here. I have very little experience with neurosurgeons, but my issues have been such "structural" problems neuros (and most orthos for that matter) didn't want to would not treat me. I was told BEFORE the major spinal revision that I would come out of it with nerve damage just because of the amount of structural issues that had to be repaired. I felt like my Ortho doc was educated and equipped to handle/treat the nerve damage. In my opinion (and my opinion only) for the more "routine" surgeries (and I'm certainly not implying the surgeries aren't major complicated surgeries) but the routine surgeries (ie multiple level ACDF, etc) either types of surgeons can perform these procedures effectively if they are well trained. You need to make the choice on what doctor you feel most confident in.

    As far as children, this is decision that only you and hubby can make. What I CAN assure you is that spinal patients CAN be excellent parents, and that you still CAN get a tremendous amount of joy from your children. There are lots of tips, suggestions, etc any one of the mothers on this forum can help you answer, all you need to do with PM us.

    Best of luck for you trying to decide how to handle your situation. I know its frustrating. Wishing you the best.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
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