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Have You Had Back Surgery?
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Chris_WebMD_Staff posted:

Have you had back surgery? Has it helped you? How did you come to decide that surgery would be best for you?

Share your experience please.
Chrissy~ WebMD Staff

Confucius Say;
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

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bj1208 responded:
Hi Chrissy ~~


Yes I did have back surgery - 2/25/08 I had Anterior Lumbar Fusion L5-S1~~removed disc and put a titanium plate, 4 screws and a cage in. I've fused 100% and have fully healed from the operation.


When looking at back/neck surgery there are several portions of the operation that make up the full picture:


1) Correcting Dis(s) problems (No guarantees)
2) Relieving pressure of Nerve Roots(50-50% of Permanent Nerve Damage)
3) Relieving back/neck pain (No guarantees)


At least these were the factors for my surgery. Each one needs to add up to 100% and, if for any reason they don't they tag you with FAILED BACK SURGERY SYNDROME. In my instance the only part of the surgery that was a success was #1 Correcting Disc Problem however permanent nerve damage had already set in on both sides and they couldn't do anything about the chronic low back pains.


Did my surgery help? Yes and No~~ Yes by removing the severely damaged disc (ruptured and splintered pressing on nerve roots on both sides and developing Degenerative Disc Disease) and No because of the permanent nerve damage in both legs and the chronic low back pain. Before my surgery I was an accountant working anywhere from 40-70 hours a week. Now I am disabled, cannot walk for very long, stand for very long or sit in certain chairs/couches. I wear a back brace and a leg brace on my left leg as the nerve damage is worse (drop foot/numbness/tingling/shooting pains).


In my situation surgery was the only way to correct the damaged disc, and I did research this for a week before deciding to go ahead. My disc was severely damaged and if left untreated would have caused more nerve root problems.


So this is my story - thanks for asking us to share~~it's a great way to get to know everyone (new and old members!!).


Take care - Joy
 
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dianer01 responded:
Hi Chrissy:

I have had back surgery. It has helped me and pain was the biggest motivator.

My first back surgery was a diskectomy and laminectomy in May of 2007. I woke up on a Saturday morning with a familiar pain in my butt. I drove about 400 miles that day with the pain increasing by the hour. Sunday my butt into my right leg were just screaming and by Monday I could hardly walk. 800mg of ibuprofin didn't touch the pain. I hobbled into work, canceled my appointments and went to the local urgent care. They sent me home with the standard steriod pack, muscle relaxants and pain meds. By Wednesday the pain meds weren't working so back I went. They sent me for a MRI and directly to the hospital. I had ruptured L3-L4 and as the MRI report states a HUGE rupture of L4-L5. Both ruptures were measured in cm. I was on IV dilauded in the hospital for a few days before they were able to schedule the surgery and they cleaned up both. I remember waking up from the anesthetic and crying because the pain was gone. I recovered very quickly and was back to work in about 2 weeks.

So the summer of '07 was good, I was walking for exercise, losing weight and generally getting my life together and feeling pretty good. Then August rolled around.

I was sitting down to tie my shoes, picked up my foot and it felt like someone stabbed me in the back. Yikes. I couldn't even stand up straight. Turns out I ruptured L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1. Back to the surgeon.

He did the MRI, Leg length survey(xray) and a couple of other tests. By now 6 weeks had gone by, I had taken a boat load of pain meds and muscle relaxants and was still in pain. Dr E just shook his head, and said this just doesn't happen. I was 46 at the time. I was having nerve issues by now and he explained I could try more conservative methods but we would end up doing the fusion in the not too distant future to stabilize my spine and relieve the pressure on the nerves so I said lets get it scheduled. October 14, 2007 I had L3-S1 fused. I didn't recognize myself the next day because my face was so puffy from being face down for 11 hours.

I came through the surgery well and again healed quickly. I was back to work in about 6 weeks and overdid everything. Too much exercising, too many activities and worked too many hours and in a few months was in pain again. I battled the pain issues for that whole spring and summer. I was really begining to question my choice. I remember driving home in October and I realized for the first time in a year I was truly without pain. I almost cried.

So here I am 4 years later. I live pretty much pain free. There are times by lower back aches but can be controled with ibuprofin. My activities are mostly unrestricted but I do have nerve damage to both feet so the bottoms of them and my toes are numb along with the front of my right shin. I am also dealing with arthritis throughout my back and both knees. I don't like to climb ladders any more. I also have a schwannoma at L1. It is currently at 12mm and we are monitoring for any change but it seems to be pretty stable.

If I had more characters I would tell you the joke abut the schwannoma but that is another story for another post. Thank you for reading this far.
 
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gauthi8 responded:
I am now a 40yr. old happy and healthy women and at the age of 15yr old I was diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis. I had a bone fusion on my 4L and 5L. I was born with this and in 1985 I was told I was the 12th person and the 3rd girl to be diagnosed in the United States. I went to the Shriners Hospital in Salt Lake Utah and Dr. Coleman was one of my surgeons. Before the operation my back and leg pain was to the point that I could not stand for more than 20 min, I could not ride a bike and some nights I would cry myself to sleep. I had only experienced the pain for a couple of years and it increased as the years went by.Thank goodness for not only the professionals but for my mother who would not give up and believed in her daughter. I saw a Chiropractor for 3 yrs at 4 times a week for adjustments. Lets just say, I did have a few lawyers contact me for a lawsuit. He saw my slip disk and the deterioration but said surgery was not an option. I went to a free screening for the Shriners in Boise Idaho. I then was in Salt Lake and having surgery within 7 days. I would have lost my legs if I had waited another year and I truly believe this . I did have paralysis from the waist down for the first 3 months and not knowing if my legs would come back. I was in a body cast for almost 2 months and I lost my bowl and bladder control for years.
However I have been pain free since the surgery and for the last 15 yrs. I have had a complete recovery from all the above. They have some medical journal on me and I am the one that usually stands up for those who talk negative about back surgery. I think it gets a bad rap far too often.

I am thankful and blessed to have my health and I make a conscience decision to remind myself how lucky I am to have my legs...I never will let myself forget the fear that was in my mind at that time in my life. The Shriners Hospital and all the Shriners that I had met were top notch ! I was always treated with respect and kindness. The doctors an nurses really cared and fought for their patients. I probably have said too much. I do not very often get a forum to show my appreciation. Thank you for asking about something positive all too often on a site like this it is usually about poor health and chronic pain and depression. Thank you very much , Kimberly


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I also have had surgery for L5S1,protruding disc for sciatic pain. Everything was fine for a year. Then the pain came back and the doctor ... More
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