It took me decades to realize that inflammation could be controlled by something other than ibuprofen. In 2008, on the advice of my naturopath I started exploring natural remedies for a tired, burning back. After closing the medicine cabinet and raiding the kitchen, here’s a list of homemade cures with real medicinal properties and minimal side effects.
Category - Discectomy
All information relating to discectomy surgery.
To fuse or not to fuse, that is the question I’ve been asking myself for years. After two decompression surgeries and persistent pain from pinched nerves, I’ve started to explore the more drastic option of lumbar fusion.
In September of 2011, I underwent a Laminectomy at L5/S1 to decompress a pinched nerve root. After the operation, my neurosurgeon told me that the pain and weakness in my lower back and leg, which I had felt for most of my life, was most likely caused by congenital Spinal Stenosis which he noticed while performing the surgery.
In late May of 2015, I distinctly remember laying on the floor of my condo watching Youtube videos on my iphone. I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t really move without horrible nerve shocks shooting down my right leg into my ankle. And while I lay there I just kept watching self published videos of people recovering from a discectomy. These videos gave me some comfort in knowing that surgery could stop the excruciating Sciatic pain I was enduring. So, I would like to thank these five people who took the time to tell their story of overcoming herniated disc pain through surgery.
I just passed the 6-month mark of my L4/L5 Discectomy so I thought now would be a good time to discuss my progress. Just a quick recap before getting into how things are today: In early June 2015, during a routine tying-of-the-shoe I badly tweaked my lower back. By the next day, a crippling Sciatica had set-in which confined me to a bed for weeks. Luckily, I had an up to date MRI so an Orthopedic surgeon quickly diagnosed a herniated L4/L5 and I was wisked off to the operating room for a lumbar Discectomy. Fast forward six months and here I am, resting fairly comfortably typing out an update.
Some professions come with a much higher risk of physical injury and often the wear and tear endured by top athletes is centered around the spine. It’s not surprising then that many pros that have had back injuries undergo surgery of some sort – especially Micro-discectomy. Here are some of the more high profile pro athlete with herniated discs and various other back related injuries.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with having a Schwannoma off an L1/L2 root nerve. After studying my MRI, the neurosurgeon told me that the pain I was experiencing near the middle of my back, which had me vigorously pinching my side, was most likely a tumor. The word ‘tumor’ got my heart racing and I immediately thought of a life threatening scenario but after some brief consultation with said neurosurgeon, I was relieved to find out that Schwannoma’s are typically benign and not likely to cause serious harm. However, the best option for immediate pain relief was to remove it. I agreed to the operation and this began a long period of recovery.
The symptoms of Sciatica are fairly easy to diagnose but the pain can range from mild tingling to extreme burning causing crippling discomfort. Pain radiating down one leg is generally the first sign but others include weakness in the leg or foot (footdrop), and numbness. There’s plenty of exercises on Youtube that show ways to alleviate the symptoms of Sciatica but in extreme cases, when compression of lumbar nerves sends sharp waves of pain down through the calf and ankle, stretching may not help.
Of the more common types of back surgery to relieve disc related pain, Spinal Fusion seems to be the most complex involving implants and bone grafts.Â Here’s how a spinal fusion isÂ performed.
After several lengthy discussions with my Orthopedic surgeon and Neurosurgeon, I’ve been told that a spinal fusion will be a last resort if all other treatment methods fail.Â From my conversations, it seems like surgeons want to avoid this type of surgery as it’s difficult to determine exactly where the pain is coming from.Â As Dr. Peter Ulrich states “spinal fusion surgery only works for specific indications and only can work if we can identify what the specific pain generator for the patient is. Probably 80-90% of the time, the pain generator can’t be identified.”
The list of things I was told to do by medical professionals post discectomy was short.Â They told me to rest, eat healthy and avoid any position that involved flexion.Â I was prescribed enough painkillers to last a week, instructed to walk a little bit more each day to stimulate blood-flow and once again, to avoid any bending, hunching or movement that would push the disc at L4/L5 laterally.Â All of this advice seemed obvious but was appreciated and after a few days the soreness subsided and I gained my strength back.Â As Kaixuan Liu, MD, PhD, founder and president of Atlantic Spine Center states in this well advised article: Do’s and Don’ts after Spine Surgery “patients and their families should be aware of several things that can smooth the transition from hospital to home, and then back to regular life”
But what about long term?Â It’s become obvious that I won’t be able to do all the things I did before I was sidelined by Sciatica and that I’ll need to change some habits, routines and lifestyle choices to avoid re-herniating.Â Though I’m still in the early stages of figuring all this out, it has donned on me that perhaps a discectomy could be seen as a pivot point in my life.Â An opportunity to try things that I might not have if ye ol’ back hadn’t forced me to.Â But the tradeoff is yet to be determined so I’ll hang on to my mountain bike for now.
Here’s a good research study done on 196 patients who had discectomies and how it impacted their lives long-term.