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Well Standingman........I had a laminectomy/discectomy on Sept 5th. I am sitting wondering if you are actually the only person that understand what I mean when I say (or you say) that the pain is strictly 'positional'. This is a super long story but I will try to make it short.
About 3 years ago I first 'ruptured' my L4 L5 and L5 S1. I got better after about a year. Was doing really well but still real careful. I guess the doctor I was seeing said the tears healed. Grant it, I also had a fusion of T1 to L1 at age 17 due to scoliosis which probably contributes to the degeneration below my fusion. I am now 28.
Sooooo, I went boating 2 summers ago and we hit a wave from another boat at a pretty high rate of speed sending into the air and slamming down really hard into my seat. I then reinjured everything. After having test and all they didn't really see much herniation. Slight, but it was still there. Once the 'disc' pain was getting better (a little anyway), I was having more of a 'bone pain'. It was like you say, when I move certain ways it would stab my spine and if I was in a certain position sitting or laying down, I would wiggle around and 'reposition' myself so I wasn't being stabbed or pinched. My doctor kept telling me that it was the disc tears and I argued and it didn't get me anywhere. I then went to the doctor that originally sent me to Shriners when I was younger for my fusion and I told him that "something" was going on and I wanted to get to the bottom of it! He did more tests and didn't find much. He said he could do a discectomy and trim the L4 L5 disc that was pressing on my nerves and see what else he could find. I occassionally had leg pain and ankle pain but nothing constant. Mostly trying to do everything was when I would have the pain so I did nothing. I couldn't even roll over in bed. Getting in and out of a car, man it sucks!
Soooooo, I had the surgery and he was amazed to find major bone growth I think must have been from the facet joints and all that was trapping my nerves.
He cut all that away and trimmed the disc.
Well, it was really crappy the first 6-8 weeks. I was doing really well thereafter, I was walking over a mile a day and doing my exercises along with PT 3 times a week. I went back to work after 11 weeks and thing kinda got crappy. I think it is from sitting all day. I'm hoping it will get better for me though.
As far as the surgery working,(?) some days I wonder but try to remain positive. I can do things that I couldn't do before like roll over in bed and bend a bit. I feel as the bone spur is gone but in some sense I wonder if he missed some. By the way, he told my mom after surgery that the nerve was completely free so I'm remaining hopeful.
My last appt., he told me that I was doing well I just had a long ways to go. So, I'm giving myself more time to make my decison on whether I can say it worked or not.
Sorry so long but it seems that you may be having the same symptoms as I had/have. If you have any questions feel free to ask!!
I wish you all the luck in your decision!!
Keep the faith..........

Christina :angel:

[QUOTE=standingman]Larry--First of all, my best wishes to you for your upcoming surgery. Force be with you in all ways for an excellent outcome.

As for me, no disco yet (although, as you know, the marching band for DDD U is practicing for the half-time show*) I think I'd wait until surgery was a definite before I'd commit to doing that dance! As you know, like everything else, it is also not without controversy.

You have enough on your mind, no doubt, but I'm wondering if the nature of one's pain suggests anything about its origin. For example, I'm imagining (although could well be wrong) that pain that originated specifically from a disintegrating/torn disk would be relatively chronic, as opposed to pain which was clearly "positional"--either totally there or totally not there--and thus suggestive of a "pinch" related to certain moves, postures, etc.. Make any sense?

In any event, again best.


*For anyone who doesn't understand the reference and is curious, see the post-idet thread started by Tennisnut.[/QUOTE]
Hello Standingman,

I had a laminectomy/discectomy on November 11 of this year (l4/l5). Before I decided on the surgery, I went through many months of extreme leg pain. I tried everything else because I really was afraid of surgery after reading some of the horror stories on this message board. When I went to see the surgeon, he said I was waisting my time trying the alternatives. I was miserable and at my wits end so I scheduled the surgery. As of this post I am doing great. I was back to work within 3 weeks of the surgery (desk job). The leg pain is completely gone & I am off of the prescription pain meds. I do however still have some back pain, but it is a cake walk compaired to what I went through with the leg pain.

I'm sure everyone's experience is different, but I am glad I did it and sorry I suffered for so long.

Hi all--Well, we have a range of experiences, which is certainly to be expected. One of the things that may be useful is to see whether there is general "advice" that comes out of all of this.

Mistina--I have followed your discussion with Janatee with interest. It does seem like "taking it slow" is of the essence, although who knows what makes a difference for particular cases. Many have repeated the warning that the most dangerous time, after surgery, is when you start to feel semi "normal" again. There is more of a risk of pushing it.
My own pain is not positional in quite the way yours is. I can turn around in bed with relatively little problem most of the time. It's the sitting that does me in. And also a certain kind of reaching--like getting something
from the bottom shelf of the refrigerator--unless I'm very careful, as I try to be.

MyCatElvis--How long did you actually wait with your leg pain? And did you have back pain before the surgery as well? And do you now have to adjust your sitting at that desk job? Or was sitting even a problem for you before the surgery? (In know in classic "stenosis," sitting is often more comfortable than standing or walking. Not at all true for me, as my moniker implies.)
In any event, terrific that you had the result you did.

Hi Folks--Stillwater, my pain also comes and goes in some surprising ways. There are definitely better and worse days and even weeks--sometimes a few days in a row during which there is hardly any pain at all. Also, my pain tends to go from "zero-to-sixty" quite quickly. If I'm lying down, standing with a bit of movement, or walking, I often have no pain at all. I can also squat and rise without pain--in fact, squatting usually _improves_ things if I am uncomfortable, I think because it lengthens the lumbar area and the somewhat flexed position may reduce the stenosis. As I've said, sitting or anything twisty is pretty predictable to set off, eventually, a major "twinge," that can be excruciating, as you describe, although I can usually get away with 1-2 hours of sitting during a day before that starts to happen. I'm almost always better in the morning than later in the day; again, I've assumed because the disks start to compress together as gravity "kicks in."

In terms of pattern, mine is pretty consistent with upper lumbar problems. My pain usually begins in left low back, about 2-3 inches left of center spine and at about the L3 level. There is some disagreement among the docs I've seen about whether this is "back pain" in the official sense or radicular pain, that just doesn't radiate very far, as would be more likely for upper lumbar problems (L 1/2 and 2/3). If I push it, there tend to be two typical pathways, that I think probably correspond with L2 and L3 nerves. Both go to hip area first. Then one tends to go to upper thigh and inside upper knee (L3) or across groin and even into genital area (more L2). Occasionally, I also get butt and/or back of leg pain, which is more like sciatica. I've learned that these distributions are often confusing--even to the experts! That's why we have myelograms, discograms, etc., and, even after that, there are often "surprises" when a surgeon eyeballs the actual anatomy.

MCElvis's situation is probably more "classic" for laminectomy. Back pain that becomes very bad leg pain, usually worse with standing/walking than with sitting. My sense is that this also often relates to where the "pinch" is, as well as lumbar level. Based on imagery, my worst stenosis is "left lateral," which is consistent with my symptoms.

I suspect that the more "classic" cases--as MCElvis's--are also more likely to have good surgical outcomes, although that is just a presumption. In some ways, it's a circular argument, since these are also the cases for which laminectomy more likely to be recommended--the "fit" between symptoms and treatment is better established.

Hi Folks--This thread is beginning to deepen in some of the ways I'd hoped; I hope useful for others as well.

Pippin--As a sometime playwright, I appreciate your setting the stage. At one point, I was thinking of surgery as a separate act from recovery and aftermath. Well, Shakespeare messed around with dramatic forms, so I suppose we can as well.

In any event, I am with you in that long Act II. Indeed, every now and then I try to work back to Act I--with questions like: Do we really have the diagnosis right? Is the hip pain a separate entity? Is it possible that a stretch injury I also have is really causing the back pain? Should i have a discogram also (I've had several MRIS, myelogram, two emgs, selective nerve block)? Are the disks a red herring? Do I even like herring? etc. etc.

In any event, I suppose this can be considered part of Act II as well. As for more specifics, there are many forms and reasons for laminectomy--literally, all it means is that the nerve is decompressed by taking some amount of bone. It is often accompanied by "trimming" the disk too, if there is bulge or herniation, but not necessarily. If the ligament in the area also appears to be impinging too much, that can also come into play. The point is to create the needed space; ideally, enough so that even if the disc does start to further bulge or the arthritic process and the like continue, there will still be enough space to keep the nerve "comfy."

As far as decision-making, I am going by a combination of "pushing the envelope" to see how much room there really is to have a viable life this way, while closely monitoring for long-term patterns of improvement, worsening, or flat-lining. As reported, it's been mostly the last for about a year, which is why I'm envelope pushing as well as trying a few last things in the conservative corner--more weight loss, abdominal work, increasing my walking, and the like. As I've suggested, while I want to be hopeful, my intuition is that I will end up having the surgery--possibly within months. I know it's a big roll of the dice. Would be "easier" if i was like my friend on the floor. But the box I'm in is costing me a great deal, not only in comfort and enjoyment, but in playing a closer to normal role in my family and in doing the work that it's taken me three decades of experience to be able to do. I would go in hoping for success, obviously, but realizing it may not be had. I said in another thread that I didn't believe in the notion that "when you need surgery, you'll know it." Perhaps I do believe in that more than I thought.

In terms of how long lamis can last, there are, of course, so many variables. I've heard some better numbers than what you report. Likewise, for fusions--one study suggested 8-10 years. Again, one never knows where one will be on the curve.

Greg--thanks for the further description. If you could make it across the country, you're sit-time was much better than mine!! Limited as I am to 1-2 hrs/day, I suppose I would make Lewis and Clark look like speed demons. On the other hand, getting up from sitting not a problem (if anything, a relief). And can still walk and stand for quite long periods comfortably. In those ways, I seem to be the opposite of Pippin, whose pattern is the more classic one for stenosis--sitting OK; walking very limited. That was also true of my good friend before his recent laminectomy.

I wonder if Greg's experience suggests something I've wondered--that the relief one may get from an injection can mask further deterioration of one's actual situation. After my recent diagnostic nerve block, I could certainly sit longer than usual comfortably. That was the idea--to see if that was the relevant nerve. But I was fearful that, in so doing, I'd "pay for it" when the block wore off as scheduled in 6 hours or so. That is partly what happened. The following day was certainly worse than usual with leg pain and more trouble with standing, although that seemed to get back to baseline by the following day.

Greg--Is your PT being planned in consultation with your surgeon? I was amazed at how well organized it was for my friend here. He had PT even before he left the hospital, then both a PT and OT who came to his home for a couple of weeks, and then planned PT at a center. All of this seemed to be coordinated. Very impressive!

In any event, take that nurse's advice. Everyone seems to talk about the danger that comes when one starts to feel "semi-normal." Not the pull out the golf clubs!

Well, 12 days post op and had my first post-op visit with the DR. First Standing, before I had injections, the pain was mainly in my back and butt. When I said I drove cross country, believe me it was painful with constant shifting and holding myself up occasionally with my right elbow on the center console. Most of my stops were for gas and to get out and get vertical.

After the shots, and I do believe they masked my back pain while me leg pain got worse, it WAS mainly leg pain and weakness/numbness of the leg. DR set the expectation that he felt like I wouls lose my leg pain, but probably not all of the back pain. As far as PT, he wants to start me in 3 weeks and have me off meds and be able to walk 1 mile. Basically, I'm working my way off meds now, occasional pain pill and anti-inflammatories and with work I'm already walking at least a mile.

I am a firm believer that the state of mind that a person enters surgery with, will affect the outcome and eventual recovery. If you go into the procedure, any procedure knowing that it will help you and the quicker you get on your feet ......the better chance for success. On the other hand, if you're not sure or certain of what's about to happen to you, you will be reluctant to push yourself later for fear of re-injury or new injury. I do understand that a person can push themselves too much, but as you said being honest with your DR will hopefully curb some of that. I may full of BS, but I honestly believe that! Hey, I'll keep you up to date on how I'm doing, no stitches to come out, because they dissolve and the bandages come off for good tomorrow. Let me know if you have any other questions!! Good luck to all, I care for each and everyone of you!

Hi Greg--First, sounds great with the walking!!! Onward, upward, outward!!! How was your walking before the surgery, if I may ask?

No way did I think you were suggesting that I "blow off" my NS (nor would I even if you were!!). More a case of "great minds think alike"! As I wrote, I already had two other opinions scheduled so that I can feel more comfortable with whatever decision.

Again, I think I'm a pretty weird case. I'm walking 4-5 miles/day _now_! I won't call it "power walking," but it's a reasonably good clip--heart rate in aerobic range. With rare exceptions, I end up feeling better after the walk than I did before. No pain provoked; if anything less. Except for the first week or so when things "crashed," I've used nothing stronger than an Advil--that's been for over fifteen months.

And yet......I still can't sit for more than 1-2 hours/day. If I push it, can get severe back jabs; if I really push it, they can become hip/groin/knee jabs as well, and the feeling of increased weakness in the leg. So that's the bubble I'm always on. In some ways, I wish I didn't walk as well now (well, not really....). At least then I'd have less to lose.

From what I gathered, it sounded like the last few months before your surgery, it was pretty definitive that things were getting worse, particularly re: leg weakness/numbness, yes? Was that even more the problem than increased pain, or did it all come together?

As always, I know we can't extrapolate from each other's experience--at least not far. As mentioned, I also have my close friend here with whom to compare notes, but whose situation was also quite different. He never had significant sitting problems; and even when his back seemed fine and mine wasn't, I could outwalk him!

Anyway, the main thing is to keep us informed of your own progress. I was interested in what you're doing PT-wise as well, and whether that is coordinated with your surgeon? I will say that, from my own experience on this side of surgery, nothing has been as helpful as walking in any case.

Keep on truckin'!

I'm glad to see this thread is still active. I've been away for a couple of weeks. I drove about 10 hours, with lots of stops and an overnight stay in the middle, to see my daughter for Christmas. It's funny - I can't sit long in a desk chair, at home or the office, but something about the way the seat in my car sits, makes things hurt less for short distances at a time. (2002 Honda Accord) After an hour, there are sharp little pains in my lower back and hips, but not to a disabling degree. When I stand up out of the car, I can't walk at first, but after a few fumbling, bent over, limping, steps, it gets better. I had my dog with me, so we woudl stop and take frequent short walks.

While at my daughter's house, with no stairs to climb and being able to take walks where it was flat, with no inclines, I was doing better. I still couldn't sit for the first 1 - 2 hours out of bed, or stand still. I spent that time pacing the floor. I came home to stairs up to my bedroom and home office, and stairs down to the walkout basement to let the dog out -- and no where to walk the dog without inclines. We still walk, but the inclines are hard, and limit the distance I can walk.

I'm still struggling with wondering whether to continue as I am, or go for the surgery. Also, concerned about the nerve damage being done while I wait. My left leg is also getting increasing weaker. It's weird how even that can fluctuate and be worse at times. I keep hoping that one of the really bad times won't strike while I'm walking down the stairs.

As far as pain meds, I can't take anti-inflamatories. During the day, I try to get by without anything. When I get home from work, if necessary I take Darvocet, which helps a little bit if I take 2, or if I can tell it isn't going to be enough, vicodin, which still doesn't take the pain away, but helps some. I also take neurontin when I get home and again at bedtime. It helps the extreme "discomfort" (I can't really call it pain) in my left foot, the feeling of having a rope wrapped tightly around it and tied tightly, and the burning in my foot and lower leg.

Hoping for a safe New Year, filled with good things, for all!

Homestead, you have such a positive attitude. It is good for me to hear it. Thank you.

Part of what is getting to me tonight, is that when I talked with the nurse today, she was looking at my chart there, and kept talking about a fusion after the laminectomy or if necessary at the time of the laminectomy, not as a possibility but as a given. And she referred to a fusion of several levels. This NS told me when I was in there that a fusion of L4/L5 (which is what the other surgeons were suggesting) would cause instability on up the spine and necessitate a later fusion with hardware at multiple levels. He also said there was a possibility that when they got in there, it [I]might[/I] be necessary, but he sounded like that wasn't likely. The nurse sounding like what she was reading in the chart gave the impression it was almost certain, either at the time of the laminectomy and facetectomy or not too far in the future. I don't know how I can have that significant scoliosis and never have known it. As I reread his report today, I also was reminded that he told me that the surgery wouldn't alleviate the lower back pain, but would only help with the leg pain, because of arthritis in my spine causing back pain.

Christina, I was doing a seach in the Back Board about scoliosis and found a thread where you had posted that you had surgery for scoliosis when you were younger. Do you have insight that could help me sort this out? Of course your being 17 (?) when you had surgery for it, and me being 64 makes a lot of difference. And if I remember correctly, you've had more than one surgery since then?

Another question, just out of curiosity - where does the "lower back" end? Is the very bottom part of the buttocks, just above the very tops of the thighs, still "lower back"? I have a lot of pain at the juncture, especially when changing position, like from sitting to standing or vice versa.

I'm really tired tonight, too tired to think clearly, and feeling discouraged. But very thankful for all of you. Standingman, thanks again for starting this thread and for being so faithful to it, and for sharing where you are in your journey.

I was reading your post about your upcoming surgery for spinal stenosis among other problems. Forgive me a longwinded post, but I just wanted to share with you a story about my mother. She is 75 and has had increasing back pain for about 10 years. In September, she got up one morning and was unable to walk due to weakness in her legs and excruciating pain. She was hospitalized near her home in WV where the doctors there told her she had "neuropathy" that was causing her problem. She was there as an inpatient for nearly 3 weeks. No CT, MRI, etc was done, just flat films and a bone scan. She came out of the hospital with the same symptoms and went home where she was able to manage, POORLY, for 3 days before she had to be admitted to a rehab facility (read: nursing home)I had tried to get her to have more tests done in while she was hospitalized but she didn't want to upset the doctor. My mother is also an RN, and has a very deferential attitude when it comes to doctors. She would NEVER question one. After 3 weeks in the rehab facility, I finally talked her into seeing a local neurosurgeon, the ONLY one within 100 miles! She had an MRI done before she saw him and was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and some arthritic spurring. He was about 40 years old and after seeing her told her, "if you were younger I would suggest surgery but at your age, it's best for you to realize that you're slowing down and just take it easy. We can do epidural injections to try to control your pain" I was livid to say the least! She is active, fit and trim and in good health with no major disease issues. She was ready to accept that and wouldn't listen to anything I had to say. After 2 sessions of injections, which DID help the pain she was about ready to settle for his opinion. I finally talked her into going to a large medical center in NC, just for a second opinion before she gave up. The neurosurgeon I made her appoinment with there was about 65 and told her there was absolutely no reason for her to live the rest of her life in a wheel chair and in severe pain. He told her the same things I'd told her. He like me had a major concern with epidural injections for pain management when there is a problem that needs surgical correction. We both see it as a "bandaid". You do nothing to fix the problem, just cover up the body's response to it, thereby allowing even more damage to occur. If you have pain that has no hope of surgical intervention, that is a different matter of course. But to give her that as her only option had really bothered me and it bothered him also. The point of the story is this.. she had the surgery 4 days after seeing the doctor in NC. She went back to the nursing home the next day, stayed for 3 weeks and is now home, alone and doing GREAT! Yes, she still has pain. But I keep reminding her when she calls me complaining of hurting after doing her laundry, which necessitates her going up and down the basement steps, that she was ready to settle for not walking just a few short months ago. Hers is all in her lower back and mostly down her right leg, but it's getting better every day. She is not driving yet because she's still a bit scared of not having enough strength in her leg to be safe. She walks her dog 1/4 of a mile about 4 times a day, climbs in and out of the tub alone, and does a LOT of things she really shouldn't. The reason I wanted to share this with you because you mentioned your age in one post and I wanted you to know that people older than you are having good outcomes from various back surgeries. She didn't have to have a fusion, though it was mentioned pre-op just as they mention all the possible side effects and complications. I hope things go well for you and will keep you and all the others here in my prayers. *S* I also wanted to tell you that as far as I know, lower back usually means lumbar and sacral bones, nerves and other tissues. Since this area feeds nerves to most everything below your waistline (internal organs as well as skeletal structures) that is why we tend to have pain in our buttocks (remember the old 'sciatica' complaint of our grandparents?), hips, thighs, and even lower in our legs when there is any problems in the spine of that area. Didn't mean to ramble so.. *S* Best of luck to you and everyone posting here.
Dear GLOW buddies,

It's been 11 months since this unpleasant journey with my back began. I have tried all the recommended conservative treatments, gotten the recommended 'second' opinions, and spent hours researching the treatments and treatment outcomes for this condition called lumbar spinal stenosis (actually, foraminal stenosis).

The surgeries that were recommended to me by the consulted surgeons were 1) 2-level laminectomy and fusion (L4/5/S1); 2) bi-lateral laminectomy at L5/S1; 3) laminotomy and neural foraminotomy at L5/L1 on left and L4/L5 on right.

None of these surgical approaches has felt 'right' to me. None of the consulted surgeons inspired my trust.

So, after long and careful thought, I have made an unconventional decision. I am going to go to a clinic in Florida called Microspine, where I will be evaluated for their procedures using "minimally invasive spinal surgery" (MISS).

This type of surgery is a non-traditional approach, and some conservatives will tell me that I am making the wrong decision. However, after weighing all the pros and cons of the traditional vs. the non-traditional surgeries, I've decided that the MISS approach is the right one for me at this time. This will be my first back surgery.

I'll fly down to Pensacola on Weds. Feb. 25, rent a car, and drive to the little town of Defuniak Springs where Microspine is located. The evaluation & diagnostic tests are scheduled on Feb. 26 & 27. Surgery is scheduled for March 1, with surgical follow-up appointments on March 2 and 3. I'll fly back home on March 3rd. Recovery should take 2-4 weeks, during which time I'll just have to 'take it easy,' but I shouldn't be bed-bound.

Of course, there is no guarantee that surgery of any kind will relieve the nerve pain in the legs and feet and let me return to an active life. However, I know that if I don't try, the symptoms ARE guaranteed to get worse.

I know there is a risk. First, it is a risk to have any surgery (1/3 get better, 1/3 stay the same, 1/3 get worse). Second, it is a risk to go to a small clinic with doctors practicing unconventional spinal surgery. Some would say it is a risk to use these particular doctors, who do not play the game of publishing in peer-review journals and presenting papers at the medical conventions.

But traditional surgery has its risks, too -- scar tissue, non-fusion, loose hardware, long recovery periods, soft tissue pain, etc. We've all read the stories on these boards about these problems. Even the highly recommended doctors, those who are board-certified and have stellar CVs, do not get superior outcomes. The back is simply too complicated and the pressures that we put on it are too great for the outcomes to be 100% for everyone.

It's a relief to make the decision. I have slowly become house-bound, and even simple things like standing in the kitchen to make dinner have become difficult on good days and impossible on bad days. It's impossible to walk with a heel-toe action on my left foot. Sometimes the left leg buckles at the hip. I go down stairs one step at a time. I use a cane when I know I have to walk any distance. I use a motorized cart at the grocery store. I've cut back my business to only 3 large clients.

I know some of you will disagree with this decision, and that's okay. This is what feels right for me.
Stilllwater--Well, I can't exactly say I "feel your pain," but I think I feel the pain of not knowing what to do. As you know, I have also been in that limbo for some time. Also like you, I find that having "good days"--and even weeks--does make things harder. Bizarrely, I had a sigmoidoscopy yesterday and, after the exam, had one of the best days I've had in a long time. I could even sit for a relatively long period of time (how ironic is that?!!!) and felt greater leg strength, more resilience, etc. What could explain this, I ask myself: endorphins from the test itself or the preparation? Weight loss after all that emptying out? an empty bowel actually giving the disks more room to "breathe"? a bowel problem even being part of the whole thing in the first place? Very strange. But of course one asks oneself: if something like this could make such a difference, is surgery a reasonable alternative??

So I, too, remain uncertain. We've gone through much of it before, but here again are some of my own criteria as things now stand (or sit):

I would go with surgery (and assuming my NS agreed, needless to say) if any of the following happened:

--worsening weakness that lasted for more than a few days (I have ups and downs as it is, but my downs are almost always one-day events).

--Any sudden and dramatic loss of strength that lasted more than a day or two.

--Bowel/bladder symptoms that could be attributed to back (my urologist thinks I _did_ have some mild "constriction" early on that was back-related, but it got better. NS less a "believer" in that. My sense is that surgeons are more all/nothing on this issue, and tend to think in terms of frank cauda equina syndrome rather than more subtle bowel/bladder things).

--A significant decrease in my ability to walk. As reported, I still can do an hour of cardio on treadmill and walk at a reasonably good clip for 1-2 hours without significant problems.

Assuming the above didn't occur, I'm left really with the question of continuing to live as things are now for me--with the present limitations regarding sitting, which means a lot re: travel and basic life tasks, although I am very lucky to have a job that allows almost unlimited flexibility in this regard. Also, as I've relayed, my NS did give odds and not great ones--about 50-50 that a lami would help, with help defined very liberally from "a little bit" to more. 15% or so of ending up worse off. Another 15-20% of needing more surgery down the line, whether an initial good outcome, no help, or worse.

If your criterion is being at 110% in May/June and your surgery would be in late March/April (I don't recall when), I think you're almost setting yourself up for a "no go" decision. Even under the best circumstances, from what I gather, most/many people have significant recovery issues during the first 2-3 months. Certainly "110%" sounds like too much too expect realistically, although if your degree of disability is quite significant now (as in, can barely move at all) that would be less necessarily true--of course, it's all relative to "baseline" and where things are now. I will say I'm surprised that nurse suggested that no PT until 3 months--certainly, that sounds like they want you to keep things fairly easy up to that point, which suggests limits, needless to say. I would ask the NS what he anticipates (understanding 'everyone is different' etc.) you'd be like at the 2-3 month mark.

So one additional and specific question again. What, exactly, would be the procedure as anticipated? I know a lami, but which level or more than one? Diskectomy also involved as likelihood?

I'm thinking we may need to start a new thread specifically on surgery decision-making. Clearly, there's a lot on this in other threads, but may still be worth it. If one is in the "gray zone," perhaps it will help.

This is so tough. I'm sure we share the fantasy, like many on this list, that one day we'll wake up and the whole friggin nightmare will be over.......

I too, had a good experience through back surgery - and I put this down entirely to the rehabilitation afterwards. The surgery may remove the leg pain and take pressure of the nerve, therefore helping with walking etc., but it will not cure the fundamental back and posture problems that have caused the disc to slip, rupture, etc. in the first place.

Getting a good physiotherapist, doing daily back stretches/strengthening exercises and swimming can help to no end and prevent old symptoms coming back. This is my current management plan, nearly two years on from my laminectomy/discectomy and although I do not have any more leg pain, numbness, etc. my back still is occasionally stiff, but I go for a swim, see the physio or do my stretches and it gets back on track.

Read my post 'successful back surgery' for more thoughts and tips.....

[QUOTE=MyCatElvis]Hello Standingman,

I had a laminectomy/discectomy on November 11 of this year (l4/l5). Before I decided on the surgery, I went through many months of extreme leg pain. I tried everything else because I really was afraid of surgery after reading some of the horror stories on this message board. When I went to see the surgeon, he said I was waisting my time trying the alternatives. I was miserable and at my wits end so I scheduled the surgery. As of this post I am doing great. I was back to work within 3 weeks of the surgery (desk job). The leg pain is completely gone & I am off of the prescription pain meds. I do however still have some back pain, but it is a cake walk compaired to what I went through with the leg pain.

I'm sure everyone's experience is different, but I am glad I did it and sorry I suffered for so long.

Hi everyone,

As many of you know, I decided not to have a laminectomy. Instead, I had a less invasive MISS surgery called a transfacet-laminoforaminoplasty at left L5 nerve root. I'm just 4 weeks post-surgery. Here's how I feel:

1) The nerve pain in the left leg is mostly gone, though there's still some tingling. However, the limp is gone! Can walk with both feet going straight forward, and do a real heel-toe walk.

2) Muscle spasms in the left buttock (along the coccyx) have caused a lot of trouble. Microspine prescribed a muscle relaxer and ibuprofen for that, and that helps tremendously (pain went from an 8 to a 2 with the first pill). My recommendation to anyone having lumbar surgery is to obtain 1) a small lumbar pillow for use when sitting, and 2) a walker, which will allow you to use your arms to get up from a seated position. I'm convinced that my muscle problems were caused by using the muscles in my legs and hips incorrectly in the first few days after surgery as I was trying to guard the surgery site.

3) Incision is completely healed and is just a faint purple line.

4) Shopped at a Super Walmart AND a grocery store on Sunday - about 2.5 hours on my feet. Haven't done that in well over a year.

5) I did not realize how weak I had become over the last year. I have a lot of work to do in getting back muscle tone in the left leg.

6) I am now aware of minor S1 nerve pain in the left leg. I hardly noticed it before because the L5 nerve pain was so much more intense. I suspect I will need to have another decompression surgery for S1 in a few years.

7) Still sleeping a good deal, which is, I think, my reaction to the muscle relaxer medication and my body's way of healing. In between naps I am back to working on the computer 4-5 hours a day.

8) Am driving now with no problems.

All in all, a pretty good report! I'm certainly feeling better emotionally because now [B]I'm working towards recovery[/B], not just standing still with my life.

Hey, everyone! I had to hunt for a long time to find this thread. I'm wondering how all of you are. It's been a long time since I posted. I'm still at about the same place, undecided. Or rather, really hoping I can avoid surgery, but not sure. I thought if I lost weight, maybe it would help. I wasn't a [I]lot[/I] overweight, but weighed about 15 - 20 # above the "ideal" weight according to the charts. So I lost the weight, and for a brief time, I thought it was helping. I'm having a lot of pain again now, though, which is discouraging. The sciatic pain down both legs and in my lower back is bad, the numbness and weakness is worse in my left leg. I'm also having a lot of pain and stiffness in my hips. It's especially bad if I've been sitting more than about 5 minutes. The whole situation is discouraging, because the surgeon said surgery, either a laminectomy or a fusion, may cause instability and necessitate more drastic surgery. I don't know if living with the increasing pain and numbness is the best option -- but it doesn't sound like a [I]good[/I] option! I'm still managing to walk regularly, and actually walking seems to help. Walking outside with the dog is very different than walking inside around the office or house or a mall. When walking outside, taking long strides and walking fairly briskly, the pain gets less after about a block. The weakness kicks in by about the third block, though. I can keep going for a while, as long as it is not uphill, but not for long. I love being outside, though, as long as it's not too hot.

I hope all of you are enjoying the longer days, and maybe some good weather. :)

Hey, everyone, I'm a newbie to the boards as of this week, and was asking for experiences with laminectomy also. Mine is scheduled for Tuesday, June 1. I'm very positive about it. My DX is severe central and lateral lumbar stenosis, causing great back and leg pain. I've tolerated it for over a year, and I think, although it is degenerative in nature due to osteoarthritis (I'm only 55), the problem became severe when I fell on my deck last year and sprained my ankle. At the time, that was all I was concerned about - getting my ankle pain resolved. Stillwater, I'm from OKC. Did you go to Tulsa for surgery? I'm at the Neuro Science Center at Mercy in OKC, and my surgery will be at the Oklahoma Spine Hospital (that's ALL they do). After PT, NSAIDs, epidurals, etc., that have not had any affect, I have opted for surgery to "fix" it. As my doctor explained, as along as I can tolerate the pain, fine, and I shouldn't have an unreasonable expectation for 100%. He said it can happen, but if I could accept even 50%, and be okay with that, he thought surgery would be the best option for me. I love him, plus he reminds me of Jeff Goldblum! LOL. So, I will keep you all posted as to the outcome. I'm concerned right now because my daughter is allergic to my 4 cats, and she planned to stay with me, but now cannot. She'll be in and out, but not here all the time like I thought. Wish me well. I'm single so I'm pretty independent and have taken care of myself following mastectomy and aneurysm repair (all in the last year). Finally, in my aneurysm repair, the nerves did not like being messed with, and this was a minimally invasive procedure. I think it just takes time for the nerves to adjust. It took 2 months with the aneurysm, so I expect it will take much longer with the laminectomy. I do hope to go back to work 8/1. My doctor said 4 weeks, but I'm going to take a little extra time.

Signing off....

[QUOTE=abennett;3011267]I am facing, more or less, the same set of circumstances that "standingman" was four years ago ie stenosis, "somewhat" manageable pain, suggestions by some surgeons for some sort of nerve release surgery, and a total inability to make up my mind! Some "war stories" on laminectomy/laminotomy operations would be helpful. Anybody know what "standingman" eventually did?[/QUOTE]

Hi, I had a laminectomy nine years ago for stenosis and did well. I had second laminectomy two weeks ago, stenosis at higher level in back, and am fine but for some annoying numbness around my knee, that does not cause me not to walk, but feels like leg is tingling just under skin. Dr. said he did not know what it is, like real helpful. Maybe it will go away. Anyone else have numbness in one spot after laminectomy?
I have been reading a lot on these boards. I am sure that I am no exception.

I began having hip/butt/leg pain almost 5 years ago. It came and went and sometime was very bad. In the last 8 months it got really bad and I had a lot of trouble with daily life. I went to a chiropractor, exercise, and acupuncture. Nothing worked.

It got so bad I had to take off work and use a cane to get around. I went for an MRI and it showed a massive rupture at L5/S1. My doctor recommended a nerve block epidural. I had that done and it helped a little, but still had a good bit of leg pain.

I went back to the doctor one week after the epidural and told him that I still had a lot of pain. Not to mention I was taking flexeril and Oxycodone.

He told me that it would not get any better with another shot so he recommended that I have a laminectomy. He scheduled it for April 4th 2011. It was outpatient.

I went in and had the procedure. Got there at 630 and went home at 1130. Once I woke up ALL the leg pain was GONE!! My foot was not numb and cold anymore either like it was. I got home that day and rested a good bit. I did walk around inside my house and ate a good dinner. I had trouble sitting and it did hurt to lay down at first.

On day two I was able to walk around inside my house a lot better and did not sleep as much. I also took a shower and my wife changed my dressing.

On day three I walked outside about half a mile. I did fine.

One day four I walked a mile and a half and have reduced my meds dramatically.

On day five I drove my kids to school and the leg pain is still gone.

I do have a bit of pain in my back where the incision is and the muscles a a bit sore. My leg pain is completely gone.

I have a followup post op two weeks after my surgery. I fully expect a release to go back to work.

My surgery was a success and I am totally relieved.

I am not a workman's comp case and I do not want to be. I want to get back, grab life by the horns, and do my life the way I want to do my life.

I hope this helps those that are looking to have this done. You have to want to get better and not feed off of others giving you attention for this issue.

Do not push yourself either. Get off the opitates as soon as you can too. All this will push you to a faster recovery.

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