In September of 2011 I underwent a Laminectomy for a herniated disc at L5/S1.Â The operation was performed by a Neurosurgeon who advised decompression to alleviate a large herniated disc applying pressure to a nerve root.Â He also performed another procedure unrelated to the L5/S1 disc issue which I won’t discuss at the moment.Â The entire procedure lasted approximately 5 hours and I stayed one night at the hospital.
An actual lumbar microdiscectomy performed by a qualified surgeon.Â Warning:Â video contains blood, tissues, bone etc…not for the squeamish.
Required viewing for those considering this procedure.Â This video provides a clear understanding of how the procedure is performed.
So this recent Amazon purchase falls into the ‘makes my life a little bit easier’ category. I’m referring to home or office gadgets that reduce the pain and strain (on my back) of every day life. Life hacks basically. And to this end, my latest back-easing purchase is the Pwr+ Laptop Desk – a fold-able tray with built in fans to keep a laptop well ventilated. Read More
So here’s a nifty gizmo for all my back pain brethren (and sisteren?). It’s called the Nayoya Acupressure Mat and it’s basically a foam mat with 6210 plastic spikes attached to it to mimic the effect of acupuncture treatment. And here’s the story of how I scoffed, then purchased and now recommend this massage aid as it seems to relieve pressure on my back in the way that traditional acupuncture does. Read More
In 2011, as my neurosurgeon was explaining the results of the Laminectomy, he casually mentioned that I had condition known as Spinal Stenosis, most likely congenital and most likely the cause of my Sciatica. Of course, this was all news to me and I wondered why it hadn’t been noticed on the MRI scan. Regardless, I had a new back ailment to add to the growing list and one that a Laminectomy should partially fix.
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.”
In September of 2011 I underwent a Laminectomy for a herniated disc at L5/S1.Â The operation was performed by a Neurosurgeon who advised decompression to alleviate a large herniated disc applying pressure to a nerve root.Â He also removed a Schwannoma, unrelated to the L5/S1 disc issue which you can read about here.Â The entire procedure lasted approximately 5 hours and I stayed one night at the hospital.
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.
It’s been close to five weeks since my discectomy and one question that lingers is how would I define a success? The obvious indicator would be pain relief but because I suffer from several back problems, measuring surgical outcomes for any one issue is a bit murky. I’m sometimes asking myself ‘is that a new pain /tingling / numbness from the discectomy or just my Spinal Stenosis acting up?’