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Discussion: Back surgery for herniated disks

in: Orienteering; General

Mar 21, 2016 4:24 PM # 
Has any APer who reads this had experience with back surgery to relieve nerve pain caused by a herniated disk?

Was the surgery effective? What was the recovery period like?

Has anyone had laser discectomy done?

Any information would be appreciated!
Mar 22, 2016 1:39 AM # 
Exhaust every conservative means first. Responses to surgery are highly individual - some great results, some not so great. So be sure that you've addressed other factors that could mitigate the load on the dodgy disc.
Mar 22, 2016 2:41 AM # 
I have a herniated disc from an incident around 8 years ago.. the pain and inconvenience and lack of sleep drove me around the bend to say the least. Eventually I consulted a specialist as I struggled to tolerate it. I had heard good and bad stories about the fusing surgery. While waiting a long time to see the doc I had been through a back rehab place which encouraged me to keep everything moving with various stretches. I joined a good gym and became a gym bunny... all over workouts, incl cycling and ab work, and later aqua jogging. I could still run but nothing over an hour or the back moaned loudly.
By the time I saw the back specialist I felt there were definite improvements, less intense incidents and longer periods of ease. The surgeon had seen this before and encouraged me to wait another 6 months, particularly due to my reluctance for the knife. 6 months later I had improved further so a good decision. I can now do almost everything normally with out pain although I know it is there and am quite careful. An in law was a surgeon and described to me how the body can do amazing things given enough time. In this case he said the signals from the damaged nerves can break down bone and slowly create a space around the effected nerves (something like that).
That's' my story.
Years later I still do gym work x-training, it's now one of my happy places to keep sane and a bit fit so a triple positive benefit.
Mar 22, 2016 3:44 AM # 
Strongly recommend the Gokhale method
Mar 22, 2016 11:47 AM # 
I now have two 'herniated discs', this expression usually describes pinching of the spinal nerve system due to damage to a vertebra. Both are always going to be with me, but have been controlled with conservative treatment, ie for the lower back one by strengthening of core muscles and specific stretching prescribed by a sports medico and a physiotherapist. For the one in my neck (probably caused by a combination of age and trauma from a rear-end auto collision) panadeine forte to deal with the initial (severe) pain followed by a gentle physio-prescribed exercise regime. I've never met anyone who has had successful spinal surgery.
Mar 22, 2016 2:48 PM # 
Simmo, your first sentence is not true - you've mixed often separate issues. Interesting to note too that something like 80% of ~40yr olds have disc bulges on x-ray, but only around 20% are symptomatic - and there does not have to be any vertebrae damage to have a herniated disc. However, if someone has been recommended spinal fusion they're generally knackered else other less traumatic surgical and less surgical options exist first.
Mar 22, 2016 3:04 PM # 
Tooms>>I've been told I have moderate spinal stenosis leading to a lumbar radiculopathy. The way the doctors have tried to explain it in a way that I would understand is that relatively minor disk issues lead to rather exaggerated symptoms and high levels of pain in me. I did about 6 months of physical therapy with some improvement, followed by a period of about two months of relative calm. The back pain then returned much worse and more debilitating than before and has been that way for about four additional months now. I've had an epidural that did not provide relief, and have been on multiple courses of steroids with no effect. At what point do you just say "well, maybe surgery is the way to go"? Reading about procedures such as laminectomy doesn't make it sound that bad. What do you think? And what about laser diskectomy?
Mar 22, 2016 4:01 PM # 
If physio helped, but then something went awry, you may find help in the Feldenkrais Method, developed by someone who experienced just that. Physio can demonstrate and train a particular set of movements, but if one moves outside those patterns, or is in a situation requiring slightly different organization of movement, then something can flare up. The Feldenkrais Method focuses more on general movement education over a longer time.
Mar 23, 2016 1:10 AM # 
Boris, I'll swap to email as it's moving into a realm of not wanting to provide advice that could be misinterpreted / misconstrued in the public domain given my professional scope of practice. Could you email me --> john at southcoastsportsmedicine dot com dot au and then I'll offer opinion based on my experience in providing rehab for musculoskeletal conditions.

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