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.
Category - Sciatica
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.
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.”
Every time I purchase a well reviewed (4 or 5 stars) product on Amazon, my faith in humanity goes up a notch. Seriously though, when a group of well meaning people come together on a forum to honestly critique a product, it cuts through the clutter of generic advertising pitches and testimonials to get to the truth which is – does this thing work or not? The Miracle Ball really does reduce muscle tension especially in the hip flexor region, where I need it the most! Read More