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Under The Knife. Again.

Got some bad news this week.

As I have posted here before, I had back surgery in mid July of this year.

The procedure is called a discectomy, which is a commonly performed procedure for severe disc herniations. (Disc is the L5-S1)

I know a couple people who have had it done, as well as many from Wizbang who were kind enough to share their experiences of their surgeries.

Anyway, since the surgery, my progress has been, well, non-existent. The pain has been 10 times as bad as it was prior to the procedure, so I've been quite worried.

I went back to the doctor and explained my situation, and he immediately called for a follow-up MRI.

We just received the results this week, and, unfortunately, the disc has re-herniated, and it is worse than the initial herniation.

Needless to say, I was shocked to hear this, as I thought it was just a case of "everyone is different" with their post-surgery progress.

As it turns out, re-herniation only occurs in 5% of patients who've had this operation, and I'm one of the lucky few.

The only way to correct this is to have another surgery, which I will be having, if not this week, then definitely the next. If this doesn't turn out successfully, the next step is fusion of the two vertebrae.

I am completely bummed out about this, as my post-op experience was a painful nightmare. So much so, I vowed if I ever had a ruptured disc again, I would NOT have this surgery done.

I have concluded, however, that this is all part of a gigantic cosmic conspiracy against me, so lamenting over it is futile.

If anyone has had this happen to them before, feel free to share your experience. I'd be interested in hearing your stories.



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Comments (23)

Shawn, hope things are bett... (Below threshold)

Shawn, hope things are better the 2nd time around. Went through two ops on my left shoulder. Like you, swore after the first that there would not be a second. Finally the pain got so bad, I gladly went under the knife a second time. Took a full year after that to recuperate. My thanks to Brunhilda, my therapist, whom I cursed daily under my breath while in rehab. Best wishes on the surgery.

Good luck with the impendin... (Below threshold)

Good luck with the impending surgery. Our thoughts are with you. Just keep an optimistic attitude. I have never had back surgery, but I did have surgery for cancer that left me with a 107 degree fever for 3 days and the Dr. thought I would not live thru the nite. He called my family in to say goodbye. I just wasn't ready to go. It has been 35 years, and I am not only cancer free, but have never felt better.
We are all thinking of you and wishing you a speedy and complete recovery.

Did you have open or endosc... (Below threshold)

Did you have open or endoscopic removal the first time? Laser?

You always knew you were special, right? This just proves it.

Good luck.

Shawn, I've had three. I d... (Below threshold)

Shawn, I've had three. I don't have any idea how old you are, but mine kept me working as a police officer for 19 years. I'm now retired, and paying for it through arthritis in my back. I guess it was worth it to be able to keep working.
Good luck.

Shawn, I've got three fused... (Below threshold)

Shawn, I've got three fused disks due to repeated back injury. I stillanaged to deliver 2 healthy kids with that kInd of back. I think I prefer the surgery, to be honest. At least after that you get up and around to go do something.

Venomous Kate

Prayers for you, man.... (Below threshold)
The Exposer:

Prayers for you, man.

My thoughts and prayers are... (Below threshold)

My thoughts and prayers are with you!

WOW top 5%!!! lol Now don... (Below threshold)

WOW top 5%!!! lol Now don't go play the lotto, you already hit your long odds..

As for the surgery, you can do it..
Cowboy up!!! Pretend the herniated discs are pain in the ass acorn members torturing you to sign up for grant money to open a brothel...

Good luck Shawn ..kick it's ASS!!!

Godspeed.But. I u... (Below threshold)


But. I used to have back troubles, and a wise RN friend of mine told me flat-out:

"Whatever you do, don't have surgery. Back surgery just leads to more back surgery. Do *anything* except surgery. Visit faith healers, handle snakes, whatever - but if you let them start cutting on your back, you'll never be free of them."

Shawn,I am so sorr... (Below threshold)


I am so sorry to hear that you are having problems again.

I had so hoped that the last time would be the last time for you.

My family and I will lift you and your team of physicians up in our prayers.


My experience was the polar... (Below threshold)
Howard Singer:

My experience was the polar opposite. My X-Stop procedure was performed for fairly advanced spondylolisthesis, which had caused considerable pain & paresthesia of my left leg. After the procedure the symptoms have completely abated, and it was all covered under Medicare. Needless to say, I'm a believer in the Single Payer concept, in which Medicare-for-all would be the standard.

I sympathize with you. I h... (Below threshold)

I sympathize with you. I had the same surgery done in July, but I am getting along very well. I am able to sleep the night through now without the excruciating pain, the numbness is gone from my feet, and I am more ambulatory than previously. The lack of feeling in my legs is gone, I am able to walk normally. I am taking care to not push my healing process, but I am able to almost walk an hour a day now. Good luck to you and my prayers are with you.

Good luck Shawn. My prayers... (Below threshold)

Good luck Shawn. My prayers are going out for you. Thanks GOD there isn't Obamascare because you would have to wait and be in pain much longer the necessary. ww

I had a discectomy with fus... (Below threshold)
Casey K:

I had a discectomy with fusion and plating on C6/C7. After about a month, the pain came back worse than before and, after several other tests including a very painful mylogram, my surgon told me I would need to re-do the surgery. After he completed the second operation, he told me the bone graft collapsed. He blamed it on low quality donor bone. I have been pain free since the second surgery.

I hope all goes well for you the second time.

The same thing happened to ... (Below threshold)

The same thing happened to me, unfortunately. My first surgery was in Nov. of 1996. Two months later, a nerve snapped (compressed) in my back, going down my right leg to my foot. My right foot has been partially (mostly) paralyzed ever since. The disc re-herniated in Feb of 1997 and my 2nd surgery took place. There is no repairing a dead nerve, but the disc pain was relieved, frankly by BOTH surgeries. My doctor is the team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers, coming highly recommended by doctor friends here in KY and by friends in my home town of Pittsburgh. Dr. Joseph Maroone, whose practice is in Pgh, performed both operations. I go to a pain clinic monthly and take pills every day. But I do lead a very normal lifestyle--for a near 60 conservative. Be happy to answer any question you might have. Best of luck with your next surgery. Do avoid spinal fusion if at all possible. I've heard some true horror stories, naturally, but that goes with the territory when bad backs are involved.

Sheesh, is "have a major he... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Sheesh, is "have a major health problem" a prerequisite for working here or something?

Get better, punk. I didn't come back here just so you could get lazy again...


Had back surgery that seeme... (Below threshold)

Had back surgery that seemed to work for about 6 months, then I woke up one morning in horrible pain. Had a second surgery, fusing the bottom two vertebrae and have been pain-free ever since - about 15 years.

I have the same L5/S1 herni... (Below threshold)
Da Capo:

I have the same L5/S1 herniation, but, on the advice of several friends, I chose physical therapy rather than surgery. I've had excellent results, and am pretty much pain-free. I was fortunate to go to a physical therapy center that uses the McKenzie Method, which is a popular technique pioneered by the New Zealand physical therapist Robin McKenzie. (He's easy to find on the Web, and his books are widely available.)

McKenzie discovered that pushing backward on the herniated disk (imagine lying face down and pushing your torso upwards by extending your arms) eventually causes the extruded part of the disk to dehydrate and withdraw. (This actually happens spontaneously in about 25% of herniations.) It took two months of doing McKenzie exercises in my case for this to happen. The dehydration of the disk relieves the pain caused by the disk pressing on the nerve.

This leaves only the pain at the point of herniation, which is caused by inflammation. That pain is relieved by doing exercises to strengthen the core muscles of the back and abdomen, which in turn enables these muscles to support the spine in a way that takes pressure off the herniation. I exercise four times a week for about twenty minutes per session, and have found that I get much better results when I do the exercises on a large ball (called a Swiss ball or physio ball). Staying balanced on the ball exercises the deep inner muscles that support the back. The Multifidi muscles are particularly important.

Finally, I do some stretches to loosen up the larger muscles of the back, which tighten in response to the injury.

Occasionally I do get a little pain, but taking an Aleve makes it go away. I don't know if my problem was as severe as yours, but physical therapy was certainly the right decision for me. Good luck to you.

Have you considered artific... (Below threshold)

Have you considered artificial disc replacement? My sister had this done and is pain free and well.

Heal.... (Below threshold)


I had a L4-5 micro disectom... (Below threshold)

I had a L4-5 micro disectomy on jun.20th of this year and started playing golf again in late Aug. Still in some pain, but that`s from another partially herniated disk in the same area. Problem in these cases seems to be that many times they won`t do surgery till you literally can`t walk and then say, "well, hurry, because you don`t want permanent nerve damage."

Dear Shawn: I'm ... (Below threshold)

Dear Shawn:
I'm a radiologist that looks at back problems on CT and MRI everyday. I obviously can't judge your level of pain, but: Make sure that if you must have surgery that it is performed by a board-certified NEUROSURGEON. Preferably at an established neurology clinic such as Barrow in Phoenix, Barnes in St. Louis or even the Mayfield Clinic in Cincinnati (where I trained). You've got a significant problem and the next surgery really, REALLY needs to be done right. (And make sure that you follow all rehab instructions to the letter. I seriously doubt that you want this level of pain for the rest of your life.)

I had x-stop surgery this p... (Below threshold)

I had x-stop surgery this past thursday. I no longer have pain down my leg or in my butttox. The only pain that I have is in the surgerical area. I sure hope that it stays that way.






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