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New to back injury - advice?

I have had lower back pain off and on for years, but recently had a fall (about 3 weeks ago) and am now experiencing extreme pain that radiates down my left leg into my foot. I have numbness in the back of the left thigh and in my foot. My left leg is also becoming progressively weaker and feels "heavy." I have had x-rays and an MRI done which showed a very large herniated disc and severe spinal stenosis. It seems like the pain from this injury has taken over my life. I can't do much and have had to cut back on work, driving, house cleaning, etc. I can't sit, stand, or walk for long periods of time. There are times when I cannot even dress and bathe without my husband's help! I have an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon soon, but I am afraid he is going to say I need surgery. Can anyone tell me if it sounds like I need surgery or if there are any other treatments that might work for me? I already take muscle relaxers, NSAID's, and pain relievers. I had been doing physical therapy, but it got too painful to continue. Any advice is appreciated.


  • cangelccangel Posts: 3
    edited 09/16/2014 - 4:20 PM
    Gee thanks for all the helpful feedback everyone.
  • My understanding is that drs want to exhaust conservative treatment before suggesting surgery. In my case I tried physio therapy, hydrotherapy, medication, myotherapy, acupuncture & cortesone (spelt wrong I know ) injections before having surgery.In a lot of literature on the net I found that if it didn't resolve itself after 6-8 weeks then surgery may be an option. If the orthopaedic surgeon suggests surgery & you're still not sure about it get another opinion.

    Microdiscectomy L5S1 January 2014
    Microdiscectomy L5S1 March 2014
    Fusion L5S1 11th August 2014
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  • LizLiz Posts: 8,835
    There is nobody on the forum qualified to tell you if you will need surgery, as Veronica says the doctor will probably want to try other treatments first and that is a good thing.


    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Jonny ZeroJonny Zero Posts: 69
    edited 09/18/2014 - 2:57 AM
    4 Level (C5-T2) Posterior Instrumented Fusion w/ Decompression (Car Accident in January 2014)
    And I can't forget that I'm not ashamed, to be the person that I am today.
  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 385
    I suffered with 'bad back' for years too, just thought it was something most people dealt with from time to time. In March 2014 (6 months ago now) I ruptured disc L5-S1 and was in excruciating pain, much like you describe. It took awhile for me to get to see my family dr, and then a while longer to find meds that worked at reducing the pain (nothing has ever completely covered the pain). I had to use morphine a fair bit in the beginning (on top of everything else you mentioned), until I was able to gradually build up a prescription med called 'gabapentin' in my system, and I believe it has made the biggest difference for my nerve pain. Prescription med 'baclofen' helps keep the muscle spasms at bay, but mostly the physiotherapist's technique with nerve pressure and regular aquacise has been my God-send! I find I can work pretty hard in the pool (in the deep-end, where you don't have to bounce off the bottom) and my muscles are only sore from working out not from pain! I am headed for a discectomy in a few weeks, but feel I've exhausted all other options. So now, I'm just trying to stay in good physical shape to give me my best chance at a full recovery. Best wishes to you in finding relief!
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  • n/m
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Advancements in surgical solutions have come a long way. Today, there are endoscopic procedures available that do very little collateral damage.

    However, a patient has to be a good fit for the procedure to better the outcome odds.

    Definitely "shop around" if you can. I did, and found a wide variance of surgical solutions that are out there. I truly feel that there is a right fit and right solution and right doctor for you. It takes determination and effort to find them. And, like any other profession, there are practitioners that are great, some just good, and all the rest.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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