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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

[QUOTE=Brett5141]Hi Everybody,

I am new to this forum and really happy to find a discussion for people with back problems.

I am 23 and have some apparently very serious problems, I have an injury to my back which has badly flared up over the past month and become debillitating (not sure if that spelled correct).

I have seen an orthopedic surgeon and a Neurosurgeon and understand that I am in need of surgery, i dont really undrestand what they are saying, partly because i was fairly shattered when told about surgery and because of some language difficulties.

He tells me that basically in between the discs there are cushions, i have apparently torn the cushion and the stuffing has come out, he says this is quite bad at my age (23) and to make it really bad it has happened in two spots.

He tells me there are two options;

1- Have a minor surgery and have the two offending discs removed and this may heal but in the long term i will more than likely have further problems.

2- Have a spine fusion and fix both discs which will be a far more serious procedure, but will have a far better chance of being a long term result.

I have had CT scans and and MRI and am still to see another surgeon.

Here is where i need everyones help, if you can answer any of the following question i would be so appreciative.

What are these cushions actually called??

Has anyone had a spinal fusion and please share the experience, good or bad.

Is it normal for it to happen in two spots?

Will i ever go back to having full use of my back? and being able to work? i will probably have to give up my job in retail because i cant lift and my other job as a sales rep is also in doubt because of sitting for long amounts of time??

Thanks for reading this long drawn out letter and all of your replies.



Welcome to the board, but sorry you have the need of learning about back surgeries and pain.

I am a good bit older than you, but am still an active person and unfortunately have a good deal of experience with major back problems. I've had 8 major spine surgeries, and my last one was a 10 level fusion just in Dec 04.

There is a train of thought that once you have a fusion, it will bring on more problems, fusions, etc. Cannot say if that is so or not, but I have had 4 fusion surgeries. The big "but" is that I have other health problems, which have required prednisone in order to breath, and of course that has not helped my bones and discs. Still, there are options other than fusion, so let me offer several suggestions for you.

First, I had to learn from being temporarily paralyzed, that there are indeed "spine specialists" and I'm not talking simply ortho or neuro's. The general ortho and neuro does treat back problems, but you are young and want to get the best from the outset, and hopefully not endure years of problems. So, please find yourself a good "spine specialist", which is an ortho or neuro who has compelted a spine fellowship AND dedicates his practice to just the spine. A spine specialist is going to be up on the newest and best techniques and would have offered you more options than a fusion for someone so young. If you don't know how to search for one, you can use the advanced search feature on this board and find a post I wrote "How to find a spine specialist in your area". That's a beginning point, but it may take visits to several specialists before hitting just the right one for you.

I do recommend that you be very pro active in your treatment, and of course research is a major, major key. But even aside from that, you want to know what to expect from your doctor. Some doc's treat their patients for the pain, as spine specialist surely know what that pain is, while some doc's refer patients out to PM's. Some doc's don't like patients to ask a lot of questions, but I want one who will answer my questions, especially concerning treatment, what's out there that offers me options, etc. Some doc's refer more to radiologists reports, while I like my spine specialist who reads the films himself first and then looks to see if the radiologist reported something he might have missed. Some doc's use a PA, and while mine has one, he uses him primarily for insuring that everything in the OR is exactly as he wants, so I rarely see the PA except in prep for surgery. Some doc's schedules patients every 5-8 minutes, while mine spends whatever amount of time is necessary, so when there is a problem, pain, etc, I'm not rushed out of there, but when things are great, I'm the one willing to be there very briefly. Some doc's make a quick diagnosis based on a glance of the records you bring to the first visit, while mine spent more than 2 1/2 hours going through the films on the first visit and did a thorough exam of his own. Some I visited, didn't touch me, aske me to stand so they could see posture or walk so they could see the bad gait. Yes, they were specialists, but it took a few visits to find a thorough one that just radiated experience, confidence and made me feel that he was miles above all the rest. It is your back, so don't settle for less than one that meets your criteria and makes you feel that way.

With the right doc, your research and questions, you will find a doc that can talk with you about artifical disc replacement or even a system called Dynesys, which is a type of flexible fusion and certainly either would be a preference for me if I were your age. Heck, they were a preference for me and I'm older, but my miracle doc didn't have your youth and a less worn out body to work with. Not complaining, as even with 10 levels fused, while I do not bend any more, I walk and I am very active, with a few adjustments on how I do some things. But, if fusion is a must in your case, you want to inform yourself about BMP and it's benefits so you don't have to deal with the older type of fusion and suffer with bone being taken from the hip. You will come up with lots of questions as you do your research.

There are lots of good people on the board with tons of experience which can save you from some things some of us have been through. There is also a web site referenced in a post at the top of the threads, written by BionicWitch. It is one of several excellent sites which will help you tremendously with research, including ADRs and Dynesys.

Best wishes and do let us know how things are going for you.

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