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Back Problems Message Board


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Hi everyone! :wave:

I'm new to this site and so far, by reading the messages, I can tell I'll fit right in - everyone seems so helpful, laid back, and full of great information!

Well, I've had a bad back for over 2 years - a torn and herniated disc at L5-S1, confirmed by MRI and discogram. I first hurt it at work (which got totally better) and then really wrecked it when I moved into my house by lifting everything in site, not thinking about my body mechanics. I had tried everything to make it get better - lots of physical therapy, epidural steroid injections, pain meds, Vioxx - but nothing gave me any long term relief. I still had DAILY pain down my right butt, leg and into my toes. The toe pain was the worst of it! I never thought toes could give someone so much pain.

I had it in my mind that there would be NO WAY I'd ever let a surgeon touch my back. I was advised to have the IDET done, but my insurance denied it (as well as the appeal). So I waited it out for another year or more, when I finally decided to go for the surgery: hemilaminectomy with microdiscectomy, and I had it done 2/18/03.

Since I came out of the OR my butt/leg/toe pain has been completely gone! I was up walking the day of surgery around the hospital, and I've been getting to my community center to walk on the treadmill everyday. I didn't start walking on the treadmill until 5 or 6 days post-op. Today is post-op day 13, and I've been so excited that one of these days...this summmer:bounce:...I'll be able to get back to all the activities that I love like hiking, biking, raquetteball, basketball - and sitting!

The only catch is the rehab period which is critical. I haven't sat down since surgery and don't plan to for the full 6 weeks of recovery. And of course no bending at the waist, twisting, lifting, anything... My uncle had this surgery back in 1983 and didn't sit for 6 weeks - never has had a problem since. 20 years! And he's an active guy. It's been hard not to be able to do anything for myself, but it's so worth it to just let the house go - to let other people take care of things for this time, because I know that if I take care of myself now, I'll be set.

Have those of you out there who've had this surgery - is it really true that you are back to "normal" and can be really active again? Sometimes I feel like it'll never feel normal, but it's only been 2 weeks.

Thanks!
[quote]Originally posted by etoile du nord:
[b]Hi everyone! :wave:

I'm new to this site and so far, by reading the messages, I can tell I'll fit right in - everyone seems so helpful, laid back, and full of great information!

Well, I've had a bad back for over 2 years - a torn and herniated disc at L5-S1, confirmed by MRI and discogram. I first hurt it at work (which got totally better) and then really wrecked it when I moved into my house by lifting everything in site, not thinking about my body mechanics. I had tried everything to make it get better - lots of physical therapy, epidural steroid injections, pain meds, Vioxx - but nothing gave me any long term relief. I still had DAILY pain down my right butt, leg and into my toes. The toe pain was the worst of it! I never thought toes could give someone so much pain.

I had it in my mind that there would be NO WAY I'd ever let a surgeon touch my back. I was advised to have the IDET done, but my insurance denied it (as well as the appeal). So I waited it out for another year or more, when I finally decided to go for the surgery: hemilaminectomy with microdiscectomy, and I had it done 2/18/03.

Since I came out of the OR my butt/leg/toe pain has been completely gone! I was up walking the day of surgery around the hospital, and I've been getting to my community center to walk on the treadmill everyday. I didn't start walking on the treadmill until 5 or 6 days post-op. Today is post-op day 13, and I've been so excited that one of these days...this summmer:bounce:...I'll be able to get back to all the activities that I love like hiking, biking, raquetteball, basketball - and sitting!

The only catch is the rehab period which is critical. I haven't sat down since surgery and don't plan to for the full 6 weeks of recovery. And of course no bending at the waist, twisting, lifting, anything... My uncle had this surgery back in 1983 and didn't sit for 6 weeks - never has had a problem since. 20 years! And he's an active guy. It's been hard not to be able to do anything for myself, but it's so worth it to just let the house go - to let other people take care of things for this time, because I know that if I take care of myself now, I'll be set.

Have those of you out there who've had this surgery - is it really true that you are back to "normal" and can be really active again? Sometimes I feel like it'll never feel normal, but it's only been 2 weeks.

Thanks![/b][/quote]

I am new to this site also ...I had the same surgery
I had mine 10/12/99 and I am still in pain it is worse than before I had it.
Hi, everyone!
Wow. Look what happens. I miss one day and I totally get behind on what's going on here. You girls are a lively group!

All of this talk about movies got me salivating to go out and see if I could sit thru a Movie movie. You know, like in a seat sitting down. I had to stop doing this before surgery, except if I could lie down on folded down seats in the dark theater, because of the old back.

I wanted to laugh, so I went to see Bringin Down the House. The good news, is that I sat thru the entire flick without having to squirm or get up and move. Hooray for surgery! The bad news is that the movie is cute, but definitely not outstanding, despite Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, who are great.

This was a great breakthru, gang. Being able to sit thru a movie theater movie was one of my big hopes for post surgery. The last movie I tried to see in a theater was, appropiately, Adaptation, with Meryl Streep and Nicolas Cage. One of the characters Cage plays has a chronic back problem, and has to spend much of his time lying on the floor with his knees up. That's sort of what I had to do in order to get thru the film.

Kristen - I think our bumps are the same. Mine also feels like bone. But I think it's getting smaller.

Neuro vs. ortho. Hmm. That's a good one. To complicate it, I had to decide between an ortho who was a DO (osteopathic dr.) and an ortho who was a MD (medical dr.). Another intriguing distinction.

I had various consults with the whole gamut of specialists before deciding what to do.

I started with a neurologist, who was so delighted at seeing a plain old case of sciatica caused by a herniated disc, instead of another complicated MS case, that he promptly grabbed the model of the human spine hanging by his desk and, holding it like a guitar, began strumming the sacriolitic/pelvic area with his right hand, while holding the cervical vertebrae like guitar frets. He then serenaded me about how I should do back exercises, wear New Balance shoes and avoid surgery at all costs. Evidently, avoiding surgery is a perogative of neurologists. Then he referred me to his favorite anasthesiologist, who goes by the name of "Bootsie", for epidural injections. Get it? Bootsie - a doc who gives shots in the butt area? This neurologist was actually a very good doc. The best part was, he made me laugh so hard I had no pain for a whole week.

I went to a couple of neurosurgeons after that, who I notice like to do that sensation test with the paper clip a lot. Orthos don't do that. I liked the sound of an ortho surgeon better. I liked the idea that the dr. who operated on me had a good perspective on how all the other bones and muscles fit into the picture.

Did any of you run into the highly specialized back dr.'s who only do the lumbar spine? I found these lumbar guys a little pompous about this. Like necks are of inferior importance or something.

I mean, I am open minded and all, having a lumbar problem, but I hate to think how hard it must be for cervical people to find a good surgeon. No wonder those guys do most of their posting over on the Spinal Problems Healthboard. They probably feel shunned by the Lumbar People. Poor things.

OK. Now I am going to the pool and splash around. Ta ta! - Dianne
Hi!
I was able to prop my head up on a pillow with no problem, as long as the whole back was on the bed and only the head was on a pillow. When you sit on the toilet, you could bend at the hips while keeping your back straight (PT calls it a "hip-hinge). Your bad knees will make it a little more difficult, but you should be okay. All the more reason to have the reacher/grabber thing.

I personally haven't felt any new twinges or sensations - except for muscle soreness. It's been exactly 10 weeks today since I had my surgery, and I don't regret it ONE BIT!!! :) It should be said, though, that I didn't have much numbness or tingling pre-op - just pain. And now, all the pain I had in my butt, leg, and toes has disappeared (except for a few toe twinges that have seem to gone away now, too). So I would do the surgery over in a [img]http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/heart.gif[/img] beat.

A laminectomy: this is taken from another website - yes, I'm plagarizing, but hey, it's only the internet:

The surgery is designed to remove a small portion of the bone over the nerve root and/or disc material from under the nerve root to give the nerve root more space and a better healing environment. A laminectomy is effective to decrease pain and improve function for patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a condition that primarily afflicts elderly patients, and is caused by degenerative changes that result in enlargement of the facet joints. The enlarged joints then place pressure on the nerves, and this pressure may be effectively relieved with a lumbar laminectomy.

This is what they say about a microdiscectomy:

In a microdiscectomy, a small portion of the bone over the nerve root and/or disc material from under the nerve root is removed to relieve neural impingement and provide more room for the nerve to heal. A microdiscectomy is typically performed for lumbar herniated disc.

A microdiscectomy surgery is actually more effective for treating leg pain (radiculopathy) than for lower back pain. The impingement on the nerve root (compression) can cause substantial leg pain, and while it may take weeks or months for the nerve root to fully heal and any numbness or weakness get better, patients normally feel relief from leg pain almost immediately after a microdiscectomy surgery.

And that is what I got - relief! And I hope you get the very best results, too! :)

To get the little images, just click on the "Smiles Legend" left of the box you type in when replying to a message, and it shows you what to type to create each image.

Well, I better go - time for my doctor appointment to see if I'm truly with child!!!




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Had right pain down butt/leg/toes for over 2 years.
MRI confirmed L5-S1 disc herniation
Discogram confirmed L5-S1 disc tear
Tried chiro, PT, epi steriod injections, more PT... to no avail
Insurance denied IDET
Had L5-S1 hemilaminectomy with microdiscectomy on 2/18/03 - now pain free!!!
Welcome Andy~ you've found a great place here for info and support. Let me just tell you, I was EXACTLY in your shoes. Car accident 2/2/02 left me in a LOT of pain from my butt down my leg. I went thru 4 mos of PT and 3 ESI's which helped the pain considerably. That was 1 yr ago. Since that time I have only had severe numbness along the s1 nerve (back of calf, behind ankle, and outer foot). The numbness was 24/7 but the pain in the foot came when I did anything, even grocery shopping. It was still controllable with meds. I was under the care of a neurologist all that time, and in Feb of this year he said to see a surgeon. The surgeon suggested a micro-d (L5-S1). He said I will probably always have the numbness cause I waited too long, but the foot pain will go away. Well, I didn't have a lot of pain and I could control it with daily meds. But my quality of life was suffering. I couldn't do things I love, like skiing, gardening, Cedar Point!, etc. And he said if I jarred my back, I risked having the hern. disc reinjure my nerve and go back thru that excrutiating pain again. That's what made my decision for me. I want to do things again! I am 40 by the way. So, I went ahead with the surgery. I think it's an easier decision if you're in a lot of pain, but I think I made the right one. I am now 11 days post op. I still have the same symptoms, the numbness is back to where it was pre-surgery, and my foot hurts by the end of the day. However, I am no worse for wear, the surgery recovery has been relatively easy, and I have a lot of faith that I will get better. It takes months for the nerves to heal, so I didn't really expect to feel better immediately. What I do have now, is peace of mind. I know that piece of disc is gone, so once the disc heals, I can do things again without being so worried about the nerve pain. So, that's my story, and you're not alone. Please feel free to ask any questions or concerns and there are many here that can help you.

TexMich: MARGARITA'S!!! Ahhhh, that sounds good. Think I'll have some on vacation! I prefer them on the rox as opposed to frozen, I get too full with frozen drinks. Looks like you'll have a somewhat cloudy day by the pool, but it shouldn't rain! I have come to HATE grocery shopping. I've had to do it on Sat.'s because it really hurts me. Maybe, just maybe, in the future I'll be able to do it after work again.

It's nice to see all you original posters popping back in! It would be nice to have an update from all of you who had surgery months ago. Help us newbies know what to expect!

B'Bill, where are you? What did the doc say? Are you feeling any better? Is the incision OK?

Have a great day everyone! Daubie



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Car Accident 2/2/02
Herniated disc L5/S1
Epidurals x3, PT 4 mos, some relief
Microdiscectomy 6/6/03

Andy,

I'm wrestling with a similar question myself. What surgery is being recommended for you ? I am considering a micro discectomy which would remove 65% of the herniated disc between L5 and S1.

I'm working really hard on my physio right now and am trying to relieve myself from the pain that shot down all the way to the base of my calf. My foot was somewhat numb, sleeping is hard, and coughing or sneezing bring on a lot of pain.

I've had recommendations to avoid surgery so long as I'm getting better and making progress. I'm probably going to postpone my June 24th surgery to give this a little shot at getting better. Even if I go through with the surgery, I'm hoping that I might be able to reduce the amount of the disc that would need to be removed. (65% sounds like a lot)

Like you, I am inactive and finding that frustrating. While the procedure itself seems very reliable and comes with relatively low risk, I'm a little nervous about surgery and am concerned about lifting limitations after the fact.

As you can see on this lengthy and valuable string of emails, most folks seem to be recovering well. There are some valuable experiences of people who feel that they waited longer than they should have too.

My recommendation ? Research what your issue is as much as you can. I've made a little progress this week by digging into my issue. This has allowed me to try something new and to get a little more out of my physio. The pain has raised up in my body a little because of this. The more you understand what is going on, the more meaning any remedy will have.

I certainly don't want to give any conclusive recommendation one way or the other because I'm certainly not qualified to do so. Hopefully this sharing of my own thinking helps somewhat.

Dave.




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- hockey impact injury to top of head in Dec. 2002
- physiotherapy & chiropractic visits which did not fix the problem
- pain shooting down into butt, leg, and calf
- numbness in foot
- big pain when coughing, laughing hard, or sneezing. Trouble sleeping at night.
- ruptured disc between L5 & S1
Hey B'Bill, just happened to check the boards (bored, I guess!) and saw your post. Have you tried icing it? I ice my incision a lot! I have a bag of peas in the freezer (any veges would do, but I find they stay on my back the best). I just lay on my tummy with the peas laying on my back for about 20 min - 1/2 hour. It really helps with the pain and the swelling. My swelling isn't as bad as yours, but I do notice after I am mobile for a while, the incision swells and I have a lump along the incision. What did the doc say when you told him about it? I'm sorry your sciatic pain is back, but hopefully it's just aggravated. Do you take any anti-inflammatories (celebrex, vioxx etc)? If not prescribed, maybe you should take OTC (motrin). Also, pre-surgery, my leg pain and butt pain was very sporadic, certainly not every day. Well, since surgery, I have had the twinges every day, so maybe if yours was worse pre surgery than mine, it is just normal that it's worse now. Just a thought! How else are you feeling? I'm doing pretty good, if you've read my last few posts. Not much different than pre surgery, maybe even a little worse, but I expected that, kinda. As far as the incision and back soreness, it's pretty good. I went with hubby yesterday to go grocery shopping for our trip. I did NOTHING but point at things and he put them in the cart. Even just that jaunt made me very tired and sore by the time I got home. But today, I feel fine again. Also, I decided to take the vicodin again. I went for several days, but the foot pain was really annoying. So, I decided to take 2 a day, one in the a.m. after breakfast, and one in the afternoon (3-4 o'clock). It helps a lot. Why be in pain if you don't have to be? Anyway, let us know how you're doing. Fewer and fewer posts on this particular thread. Hope it doesn't die! Take care~ Daubie

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Car Accident 2/2/02
Herniated disc L5/S1
Epidurals x3, PT 4 mos, some relief
Microdiscectomy 6/6/03
TGIF EVERYONE!!! Sounds like everyone's doing well today!
~Linda, haven't read your other post yet, but I will after I leave here. Hope you're ok...
~Laura, I want that tens unit! Same pain today (no PT on fridays!) I missed that relief (OK, I cheated and took a vicodin on my way home so I do feel better but I'd rather be better without drugs!) Came home and went right downstairs to do my exercises. And yes, insurance will cover the tens unit, you need a script from the doctor. I hear you can rent them for awhile first to see if they help you. Thanks for responding to Thom for me (filling in while I'm at work!). I couldn't have said it better myself!
Dave~ nice to hear from you and thanks for the birthday wishes. No big plans. Anyway, you didn't really tell us how you are feeling 4 weeks post op. Still any pain or numbness? Give us details, man!
~Thom, how you doin??? Regarding return to work, my doc didn't push me, but I asked at my 4 week post op if I could return, and he said yes since I have a desk job and as long as I felt up to it, so he probably would have extended me if I asked. Regarding that damn nerve pain. Obviously there are some things that are going to aggravate it (for me, driving) so I try to move around, but I can't stop driving. But if you can stop what you're doing, then do so (like sitting too long, walking, moving the wrong way, etc). Will it ever go away? Nobody knows, but my PT thinks it will. I have a lot less nerve twinges than I did even 2 weeks ago, so that's encouraging (I'm referring to the twinges in your butt that run down your leg). But, the foot nerve pain is worse since I returned to work (due to driving, I swear!). Pt thinks it will all go away as I continue to develop my core muscles and he works on the nerve. I only have 1 week of PT left. I really hope he extends it! (how sad is that???). Even if he doesn't extend, I swear to keep up the exercises (I'm also not in the best physical shape, but I'm working on it!). My hubby is my rock, too. I've only been married 8 years, but love every minute of it. Feel very blessed to have such a supportive and wonderful spouse. How did the staple removing go? Did it hurt? Did the doc do anything else like suggest PT or anything?
Hi to everyone else, hope everyone has a GREAT weekend! ~Daubie

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Car Accident 2/2/02
Herniated disc L5/S1
Epidurals x3, PT 4 mos, some relief
Microdiscectomy 6/6/03
Good morning all. ~Thom, regarding twisting. I think that makes sense too, about being non weight bearing. Like when the therapist had me bend forward to touch my shins, I now remember him saying not to do this myself, and it's ok cause I'm sitting, not standing. Every time I tell him a new pain, he gives me a new exercise! Maybe it's time to stop telling him my aches and pains or my daily regime will become 2 hours!!! Just kidding. I told him the tens is working great except driving home, and he gave me a great explanation, cause I just don't get how pushing the pedal with my right foot causes my leg foot to burn. He said the nerve goes down both legs, right? If you think of it that way, and pull on the right side to reach for the pedal, you will naturally pull the nerve from the left side, which is irritating it and since it's already compromised, it's going to hurt. He also likes to prove what he tells me, which I like! He made me sit, hunched forward a little bit with my head down, and lift my left foot off the ground 6 inches. No pain. Then he had me flex my left foot toward me and OUCH, generated the nerve pain from the left butt all the way down to my left foot! Then did the same with the right foot. Same pain ON THE LEFT nerve and left buttock. So now I have to practice that 10x's a day on my right foot, and he said DO NOT do the left yet. So, now I understand why driving hurts my left foot (in case anyone wanted to know, hehe). I am wondering if this theory supports your new pain on the other side??? What do you think? I don't mean driving as the instigator, but just the whole nerve thing being pulled from one side to the other. Glad the tens helped yesterday. It has really been a life saver for me. Wish someone would have tried it on me months ago, could have saved me a lot of vicodin! And yes, I will ask my therapist about the pelvic twist. Regarding your chair, it is a mesh seat? That does NOT sound comfortable! Maybe you should try the tush cush on the chair! It sure makes sitting a lot more comfy for me. Not only does it alleviate the foot burn, but my back and butt feel so much better sitting. My only concern is that it will flatten out and not remain cushy. If it stays cushy after a month or so, I will order 2 more, one for work and one for my car so I won't have to cart it around. Right now it is well worth the 40 bucks I paid for it. And, may be able to get wc to foot the bill. Oh, regarding working the nerve. He stretches it every time I go. I lay on my back, and of course he does the leg lift to see how high my leg can go (which has increased some since I started). But then he holds it there, and flexes my foot back and forth which I feel in the nerve. He watches my face to see how much discomfort; some is good, too much is not (which he did too much last week, hence the major foot pain last weekend). Then he rolls my ankle and moves my leg toward the right and I feel the stretch along the outer left leg. Sometimes he uses his thumb to exert pressure along the nerve path to see where the pain is coming from. Anyway, all this is supposed to make the nerve more flexible so it quits getting irritated with normal activities.
Do you have any great plans for the weekend? I have to go grocery shopping, which is a major painful ordeal for me. Pushing the cart KILLS me, but... gotta do it. Hubby does so much other stuff for me, I can't bring myself to let him do that too. Hopefully with my 2 new friends (tens and tush cush) I will be a lot more comfortable. I have to wait till he gets home from work, tho', cause I'm not carrying them in from the car. Other than that, no plans. Maybe I'll buy a bottle of wine and watch a movie tonite. I rented 2 Week Notice last weekend and haven't watched it yet (more late fees!).
Well, hi to everone. ~Daubie

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Car Accident 2/2/02
Herniated disc L5/S1
Epidurals x3, PT 4 mos, some relief
Microdiscectomy 6/6/03
Good morning. Well, after a good nite's sleep, I feel MUCH better. Last nite was pretty rough! Oh well, to be expected. Anyway, back to catching up..
~Laura, I got NO rain here the other nite, but I saw where it was pretty strong in some areas (like yours!). Beautiful sunny morning today. See, remember in the spring when all it did was rain and it was sooo cold, I told you the weather isn't typically like that! I can't believe it's already mid August. Pretty soon it will really start chilling up in the am and pm. Then,... SNOW! Days are already getting shorter. Thank goodness we get fall before winter. Are you doing a lot of ab crunches in PT? My stomach is very tight now, only 5 weeks. Woohoo! (I needed it!). He gave me 2 more exercises yesterday. I'm not kidding, I'm up to about 20 different things! Oh well, whatever it takes is my motto! Sure hope that tightness in your back gets better soon! Do you have any nerve problems? I'm going to the zoo tonight. My company rented the zoo for 3 hours for our staff and families. That should be strange. I found out this week that my job will be gone in a few months. I've been with the company for 18 years, but we lost our account so after the transition, I'll be jobless. We were on the news Tues nite, because we have a huge office, over 600 employees will be let go. I'm still a little in shock. Hubby sent me a dozen roses to work yesterday, just because I've been sad this week. He really is a great guy. Also, I've been compromising and not staying on the net so much. We do work well together!
~Seeks, that news is very interesting! But since I've been on a low carb/sugar diet all year, doesn't help me. But it sure may help others, and you too! Heres hoping you see some major improvement soon!
~Dave, sounds like you are well on your way to a full recovery! Good for you!!! Thanks for the info on the inserts, but you know, I've tried many of them, and they drive me crazy! I bought the shoes the therapist recommended. They're not orthodics, just cross trainers with extra cushion. So, they feel just like regular shoes. So far, they feel pretty good, but I didn't really have any problems with my other tennies (as far as comfort, anyway). Anyway, keep up the good work!
~David, how's the biking going? Regarding sitting/sciatic pains. I think it's pretty normal, especially since it's nothing like pre-surgery. I had some sciatic pains in by left butt cheek for several weeks post op, just this past week or so I've noticed I don't have them anymore. Can honestly say it is just my foot now (woohoo!!!). So, you're a few weeks behind me. One thing tho' that my therapist told me is, when you get pain from anything like sitting, either to the girlie pushups (lay on your stomach and leave your pelvis on the floor/bed, and push your upper back up with your hands. do 10. If you can't lay down, then stand up, put your hands on your butt, and slowly lean back 10 times. This really helps. And one more thing I was told last year by a co-worker that sounds really stupid but always helped those twinges is, while standing, squeeze your butt cheeks together a few times. Both of these really work for me, so maybe you should give it a try. But don't try to be an acrobat! You don't need to lean back real far. Regarding swimming, I read somewhere on here to NOT do the breast stroke for recovery. Don't know about free style. Glad you're doing so well, keep it up!
~Coby, how are ya?? When you say you can almost touch your toes, are you standing and bending over? I thought that was out forever? Glad you came out of your accident without major problems. I'll tell you, that is one of my worst fears. Since my problems all started with a car accident, other drivers scare me!
Well, hope everyone has a great weekend!!! Here's to a pain free weekend for everyone!
~Daubie



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Car Accident 2/2/02
Herniated disc L5/S1
Epidurals x3, PT 4 mos, some relief
Microdiscectomy 6/6/03





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