View Full Version : disc surgery?

06-29-2014, 11:26 PM
Looking for opinions.

So I spent thursday in the ER. Havent done much since then.
About this time last year I had an l5 s1 blowout.

I knew something was up again about a week or so ago but I kept pushing it with projects and stuff around the house.

By thursday there was no position at all I could sit stand or lay in without big time pain.

Long story short the back doctor at panorama is gone till july 8

So I wound up going to the er again even though i swore yo never go back. The pain was so bad i couldnt do anything else. The ER did deal with the pain and did an mri which showed what I figured it would. Big blowout at l5 s1. This time its not swelling pissing off nerves but the actual bulged disc is sitting on one major nerve. that last one sidelined me most the summer last year.

So for those who have done the surgery..do you think that was the right decision? Would you make the same choice again?

I am on a wicked cocktail of drugs right now till the surgeon comes back..pretty sure I know what he will say...but I also know I cant do these pills for very long either..

Just looking for an opinion from those who have done the surgery or also from maybe those who didn't what worked best for them?

I know I have big lifestyle changes to make in order for this to improve in the long run..but short term I gotta believe that surgery is a good option better than oxy 6x per day.

Let me know your thoughts.

06-30-2014, 09:06 AM
I'm very interested in opinions as well. Last September when I was moving, I wrecked my back when the guy on the other side of a big dresser unexpectedly dropped it, and I basically ended up face down on the ground for 5 hours writhing in pain. I dealt with it for a couple months (edit: tried to), but the pain was totally crazy with shooting pains down my leg and I would literally lose my breath standing up after sitting for a while. I finally went in for an MRI in March which showed herniation in L5 S1 as well, so I went the injection route. They put in some kind of steriod which took about a week to be effective, but I've since built up my core a lot stronger and have been doing mostly normal activities. When I bend or twist weird though, I can feel it immediately and am fearful for when something major happens and it starts all over again. I am relatively young (31), so the doctor discouraged me from surgery however I'm curious to see what others have experienced with this injury.

06-30-2014, 09:50 AM
Mike, sorry to hear of your pain. I dealt with partial discectomy and laminectomy of L4 and L5 in '94 and haven't looked back since (no pun intended). There may be alternatives now that weren't available in '94 but I was completely happy with surgery - pain I'd been living with for 22 years was gone overnight and life was much brighter. I do deal with residual pain now but nothing like the agonies prior to surgery. A good orthopedic surgeon is pretty easy to find in the metro area and I wish you well on your search for relief.

06-30-2014, 10:34 AM

I could type all day about this. I herniated L4/L5 in 2008. It progressively got worse over time and eventually changed the way I lived my life. It changed the way I walked and the things I did. I kept thinking it would get better on it's own and from time to time, the swelling/inflammation would go down enough that I could run, workout, drive, hike and generally do the things I enjoy. Then, out of no where, the pain in my butt cheek, hip, leg and foot would get so bad it brought tears to my eyes and I couldn't sit or lay down. Pulling one leg up into the fetal position and turning my head slightly would give enough relief that I could take a deep breath....... that's about it. I will never forget that pain.

In 2012 I had a bad spell for about two weeks that I couldn't do anything. I found a great back doctor here in town. Dr Chad Prusmack http://www.spineclinic.com/prusmack.html
His resume speaks for itself. He did not pressure me into surgery at all. His education is off the charts. He graduated Harvard before he turned 21. Attended Columbia (my wife's Alma mater) and did his residency at Miami with Dr. Oz (of Oprah fame). He is the neurosurgeon for the MMA and Denver Broncos. You simply won't find anyone better IMO.

His P.A. is a guy named David Whatmore. He's from New Zealand and a Land Cruiser fan. You'll see him first and talk about your MRI and options. We talked a lot about LC's and long distance travel after my surgery. I remember him telling me "Chad is so good at what he does, you'll want to change tires on the trail next week, but don't".

Long story shortened a little. .... in August 2012 (before I met Dr. Chad or David) I went down for the count again, couldn't walk, sit or stand. If you remember at the Rally, I was almost in tears and had to leave. I almost didn't make the drive home. I went to see Dr Chad that Monday. My MRI showed a severely herniated L4/l5. Dr Chad told me my options and asked me what I wanted to do. I elected to NOT have surgery and try some alternatives. He put me on PT and showed me some stretches and yoga poses to try and relieve the herniation. All of that helped, but I was no where close to being better. By October, I had enough and nervously elected for the surgery. My date was October 19th, and by that morning, I was feeling pretty good. So good in fact, that I canceled my surgery the morning of. I spoke to Dr Chad and told him I was too nervous to go through it. He said, "than I don't want you to have surgery today. Let's wait and try some more PT and exercises." He also said "If you ask me if your back will heal over time, the answer is, Yes, and if you ask me if your back will heal with surgery, the answer is Yes, but one will take much longer than the other and you have to stop doing anything physical and allow your body to repair itself"

February 2013 I was shoveling snow and felt a pop that felt like someone shot me in the leg. My wife literally dragged me into the house and called Dr Chad. He set me up for surgery March 1st. I was wheeled into the hospital that morning, and I walked out on my own that night! Seriously. Of course I was doped up and totally out of it, but my butt, hip and leg pain were gone. That same week, although I had some surgery pain, I walked two miles in one day, Dr Chad's orders. No lifting or bending, but walking as much as I could. By April I was at 75% and he said Cruise Moab wasn't the best choice, but I could go as long as I got out of the truck and walked around as much as possible, which I did. No pain at all.

I'm probably as close to 100% right now than I've ever been. I'm running 4 or 5 miles at a time, working out, working on my truck, just about anything I want. I still take it pretty easy and avoid heavy lifting and turning. I take my truck up to Christo more than I would have in the past because it's not worth the risk of re-injuring the disc. I can lift my RTT on my roof or change a tire without pain. It was the best decision I ever made and pretty much gave me my life back. I can sleep in my truck, camp with the kids, throw a football, kick a soccer ball. It's like sweet freedom.

That's my story. I would go back and have surgery with Dr Chad again in a heartbeat.

06-30-2014, 03:54 PM
Buldging disc at L5/L6 S1 seriously pinching my siatic nerve to the point I couldn't put my own socks on! Searing pain shooting down my left leg darn near putting me in tears. Went the injection route about 4 years ago and lots of PT to strengthen the core and, knock on wood, I've been fine since.

Are injections to reduce the buldge not an option at this point. Way less invasive as a first step. No, I'm not a doctor and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express either!

Best of luck regardless of what you end up doing.

06-30-2014, 09:10 PM
Thanks for all the input. That pain..man I will never forget it. This time is worse than last.

Its good to hear other experiences. At this point I will opt for surgery unless the doctor talks me out of it..which he wont.
He wanted me to do it last year.

Thanks again for sharing your stories!!

07-01-2014, 08:28 AM
No good! I feel for you :(

The more I live with it, the more I think I understand the situation. Think is the keyword in that last sentence. I haven't had any luck getting answers from the doctors because the conversation is divided into two issues. You are in pain so you ask will the surgery help. The docs says, yes, you need surgery but it won't address what you are asking the surgery to resolve. Pinch a nerve off, it dies... surgery is elective but necessary in the event the disc impinges on a nerve. Again, not the one causing the pain, the ones controlling muscle function and tactile sensory perception. The risk of the surgery is not worth it unless you have affected function. The elective portion of the argument is to do it in the hopes it improves your quality of life. In most cases, a week of bed rest will net you the same results of the surgery. I am certain that the surgery appears to be effective in resolving pain because it is combined with the bed rest. Unfortunately, almost every person suffers from some type of lower back pain so, the job of the doctors to understand your unique situation and is why this is so polarized. It goes back to the basic argument of surgery is only needed in the event you have lost function and they are forced to ignore the pain. Mitigating pain is secondary in every discussion. What options are available to address the pain is your underlying question and ultimately why you went to the doctor in the first place. Surgery will guarantee the L1-S5 will become arthritic and that is the pain that drops you to your knees. It is the sensation I know you have felt many times during this ordeal. It is the everything is fine then a quick jolt of intense pain type of pain. Sometimes it lasts for long periods of time but the initial pain is the same and eventually fades to a dull ache. Now the other pain that surgery may help is the one that doesn't hurt but you know something is wrong. This one is hard to explain but you body reacts to a sensation that can only be described as intense pain that you cannot feel. I still have this one after my surgery but I can twist and move in such a way that I can regain control. Focus on the function portion when deciding on the surgery, do everything else in lieu of surgery to deal with the pain. No matter what you decide, work through it like you are healed because that is what will get you through it. Build up the muscles and don't favor them. You are not broken, don't let the doctors convince you otherwise.

07-01-2014, 09:00 AM
^ Excellent post!

07-01-2014, 05:37 PM
X3 - But if you decide on Surgery, suggest you use a Neurosurgeon vice an Othopedic surgeon. As recommended above by fishy. Avoid the "shots" and Steroids and enzymes.

07-01-2014, 06:50 PM
My simple advice would be that if you do decide on surgery, try your darnedest to only have the disc trimmed. Avoid any sort of pedicel screw system or "fusion". If they can trim the disc away from the nerve without replacing it with a plif, that is ideal. As Mikey D said, if your pain eventually resolves with core strengthening and stretching, then you don't need surgery to rectify, and surgery MAY only make you worse off in the end.

07-14-2014, 04:39 PM
Good advice folks! I'm among the "no surgery" side and have dealt with this for more years than I care to count. I've blown L4/5/6 and S1 and have had 6 surgeons try to schedule surgery. I now use an non-surgeon Ortho that is up-front about "Failed Back Syndrome" which is a surgeons term for Failed Back Surgery which can be the result of any back surgery. My Ortho sent me to a surgeon for his input and he said "If you want me to cut on you I can do that but don't advise it. It was about then when I recognized the way he moved and that he had the same issue. I asked him why he hasn't had his back fixed and he said "It's not worth the risk"

In my case I'd have to have 4 discs fixed which would move the stress up my spine causing additional ruptures. No thanks. Keep moving, lift smart, stengthen your core and learn how to deal with it. Epidurals (cortison injections) are proving to be non-effective but did work for me at one time.

I have adjusted to living with pain, changing a tire on the trail results in pain for the next few days. Such is life. I can still wheel all day so life is good. Hang in there, unfortunately things could be worse, do what you can to keep the pain at bay.

07-14-2014, 04:49 PM
I saw the surgeon last tuesday
Which was 12 days post injury.
He said basically the same..
If the pain is lessening then it will virtually always heal itself.
Advised lifestyle changes that are well overdue.
So I am going that route.

07-14-2014, 09:25 PM
Good for you bud, I herniated L5/S1 and the Epidurals steriod and cortison injections helped me enough to get better. Good physical therapy and dedication and I'm 90%+ now with no knife.

Try everything before you cut, that is my humble opinion.