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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 04-05-2009, 05:00 AM
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Post runner's surgery blog, L4/5, 2008

Here is my surgical blog:

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 04:14 PM. Reason: add words
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:02 AM
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Had ProDisc placement in 2008. It feels good to finally get this done and be on the road to recovery.
I am having back pain and some abdominal pain, but the abdominal pain is fading. All the pain I have had post surgical, is getting better.
I spent 10 days in the hospital (I was released Thursday night) because I developed a post-operative ileus (intestinal obstruction) and ended up NPO for about four days.
Physicially, I am feeling pretty good. Taking naps during the day but so much stronger than right after surgery.
Fighting my health insurance is taking up much of my "free" time.
Ready to hit the MOM or something right now. I am taking the colace three times a day, miralax powder and smooth-move tea and so far nothing.
I look like I have a little watermelon in my tummy. LOL.
So happy to have things done,

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:05 AM
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Default 3-25-2008

Yes,

I am taking it easy.

I am trying to do a little bit each day to get insurance to cover my surgery. I feel like this is my new "job" to get my surgery covered and get others covered too in the process.

Having problems with the plumbing. Had to resort to the MOM therapy today. LOL.
I just took another percocet and sleeping pill and that makes me rest.

My family is supportive but worried at the same time. About our financial future, about my health, etc... I always believe something happens for a reason and I believe "my reason" is to help others like I do when I work as a nurse.
I am a patient advocate above all else. If you can, please keep helping me. I appreciate anything you do and i will heed your comments.

As for now, if I do anything my back doesn't like, it tells me.
That movement really hurts and I have tried to avoid things such as that. Also paying attention, to not sit for more than 20-25 minutes as PT instructed me in the hospital.
I have a walker too, and have used it outside and sometimes inside. One thing I noticed is that holding onto the walker, prevents me from bending over. Getting some help for my three-year-old, which isn't easy because we cannot afford to spend money on childcare.
Finally, on the road to recovery.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:07 AM
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03-25-2008, 01:02 PM
phylly
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I am so glad that you have had your surgery and are finally feeling better. I was following your story. I have the same insurance and they are awful. You may want to get a lawyer to help you with the appeals. Your job is to get better so that you can prove it was the right decision. Take things slowly, it really does take some time to get back to you old self. All my best to you.
Phylly
__________________
Cervical fusion C4-C6 2002
Fall on tailbone April 2005
Discogram positive at L4-S1 2007
Prodisc ADR surgery L4-L5-S1 November 2007 Dr. Delamarter
Decompression surgery L4-S1 for left sided sciatica July 2008
Continued back pain, looking at possible fusion
Removal of Prodiscs and L4-S1 fusion February 2009

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:13 AM
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Hi,
Glad to hear you are in recovery mode. Take it easy. There will be time to fight em. May it get a little better and stronger each day. Keep us posted about your health and progress with insurance. JL
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(Bill) 14 yrs L5-S1 pain & tear
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Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:16 AM
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Default 3-28-2008

Phylly and JL,

Thanks for the kind thoughts. Phylly, I have a lawyer and now I think I need a different one.
I am just going to keep doing everything to get this covered. In my eyes, my insurance company is one of the worse insurance companies anyone can ever have.

As for recovery, saw my doctor, on Thursday and he said I was progressing well. That I looked a lot better than when he saw me last week in the hospital. LOL.
I am getting the picture that recovery is a slow process. I got some Lidocaine patches for an abdominal pain to the left of my incision and it really does help to put a strip there.
I asked the doctor about distraction pains, because so many seem to encounter them after ADR surgery and he said my hip/back pain could be that. I am now just over two weeks post op.
No physical therapy for now and just continue what I have been doing. I just kind of putter around the house.
I see my vascular surgeon on Monday and see what he says. I got my bandage off and now I just have a small scar and it is underneath my belly button because my L4/5 was higher than normal. It is amazing they can do all that work through a tiny space.
I am really happy I did the ADR surgery and know in my heart it was the best thing to do for me. My surgeons agree.
A great thing happened today, I was a little (lot) depressed and right when I felt the worse, I got a phone call from a friend.
Made all the difference.

In about three and half weeks, go to doc again and get X-rays done. I am curious to see what the Disc looks like. I had x-rays in the hospital but did not get to see them.

Here's to everyone progressing in their recoveries.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:18 AM
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Default 4-4-2008

Hi everyone,

I am just a little over three weeks post-op and seem to be using less pain meds as pain gets better. My abdominal pain is a lot better and feeling pretty good, but I am still on the maintenance pain meds, Oxycontin, and Percocets every four hours and flexeril also. Gabapentin also.

I had a question though. I have left hip pain and just a little on the right and it was really bugging me yesterday and a little better today when I was able to rest more.

So is this par for the course? Or something I should notify my doctor about? I did e-mail his nurse manager who I speak to fairly often and she probably hasn't opened the e-mail yet.

I start wondering if i am being a "worry wart" and this is just the normal healing process?

Everything else is okay, including the constipation I had at first. This hip thing is preventing me from really going out walking around my house outside. I am thinking that maybe I overdid my last trip out (yesterday) but all I did was walk a few hundred meters around the cul de sac near my home but I stood talking to a neighbor for a while but that really shouldn't bother things.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:21 AM
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Default 4-4-2008

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi
It's good to hear that you are starting to cruise around the neighborhood and get some of your strength back. Those grabbers are so handy, you will have to treat them better! About your pain, you may want to call your Dr. just to let them know about these pains, especially if they are getting worse or are different than before. It may be routine but everyone feels differently during the recuperation time. The office and Dr. will understand.

I laughed and could really relate when you talked about your nurse manager. Mine called only once (I POURED MY HEART OUT)and then never called again. A new nurse called 3 months later and wanted to start over again since my nurse was too busy with her promotion. I said no as I didn't know who was helping who and I was now managing myself.

Take care and please keep in touch and let us know what's up.
phyly
__________________
Cervical fusion C4-C6 2002
Fall on tailbone April 2005
Discogram positive at L4-S1 2007
Prodisc ADR surgery L4-L5-S1 November 2007 Dr. Delamarter
Decompression surgery L4-S1 for left sided sciatica July 2008
Continued back pain, looking at possible fusion
Removal of Prodiscs and L4-S1 fusion February 2009
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:23 AM
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Default 4-4-2008

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Hello Phylly,

Thanks for the advice. I called the doctor and left a message and I will see what he says. I don't know if they can do anything about it, but it really is preventing me from going out back into the neighborhood and walking.

So I am resting.

I start feeling like I am lazy but all of you on here say take it easy and don't rush into things.
Phylly, I called her the doctor's nurse manager, but she is my doctor's office manager and she has helped me so much, getting appeals done and so forth.


Sorry, but my life's mission just might be to get my insurance to pay for ADR surgery in all the cases where the candidates meet the FDA approval guidelines.

They won't cover one level and I know of Workers Comps covering hybrid and two levels and so forth.

On the road to recovery and redemption too.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:26 AM
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Best wishes for a smooth recovery. You helped me figure the surgery out a bit. I figure I can't be totally crazy if you took the disc replacement path.

your insurance, no wishes for them.
For your comparison, a context,
<LI>CIGNA will pay for 2-level fusion
<LI>CIGNA will not pay for 2-level ADR or hybrid ADR+Fusion

The ~plan to pay for the ADR / TDR myself & avoid 2-level fusion because ... and at some point Cigna might reimburse.


Take care,


Slackwater
Nov'04 MVA: two-level lumbar surgical candidate, reading about options, ADR / TDR , ~Fusion
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Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:28 AM
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Default 4-6-2008

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Phylly,

Thanks for the advice. Called the doc and he called back and said I might have bursitis. Plan is to take it easy and take Naprosyn or Aleve and see how it is Monday. Might have to go get an x-ray on Monday. Now, at least I am sleeping better as Aleve helps. Never a dull moment with this recovery.

Slackwater,

Thank you.
You are not crazy.
From what my doctor told me, the ALIF (fusion) approach is the same for ADR, so the cost difference is the devices--the disc vs. hardware for fusion.
The two-level is a more extensive surgery of course, just like a two-level fusion would be.
So basically, it is the same surgery as fusion, approach-wise, except for what is put between the vertebrae.

My doctor told me that when he had people get denied by their health insurance, and exhausted appeals, they would usually opt for fusion instead.
But not me.
I think he admired my pluck.

When it came down to ADR, there was no better surgery for me. I just followed my neurosurgeon's first choice. Why would anyone want the second choice? It didn't matter to me, either, that my doc is said to do excellent fusions. I was thinking about the future and wanted my best chance to avoid future surgeries.
And I wanted to preserve my mobility.

I refused too to listen to the negative rhetoric from other doctors, instead I did my own research and trusted my doctor.

When doctors want this surgery themselves when they end up with the same problem, that tells you that you are onto the correct path.

I may be a little crazy, but I always have a plan. I believe as more people stand up for their rights, the more this surgery will be done in the US and the more it will become a standard.
I looked carefully also at the contraindications and I had none. That was important to me as I did not want to do anything foolish. I couldn't believe the misinformation out there about ADR.

Happy hunting.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:29 AM
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Default 4-6-2008

I too, have had bursitis since my ADR. I had the same level as you. My surgeon did two cortisone injections about six weeks apart and it has helped a lot.

Can't help with the insurance problems for ADR but I will say, I did a grievance for the BRAVO wireless esophageal testing device in January and it actually got approved. My doctor was amazed and asked if he could use me as an example as I'm the first that has had it approved. Hopefully they will "catch up" with ADR like they did with this procedure. GOOD LUCK!! Keep fighting.
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DDD L4-5
Spondylosis L5-S1
6 different types epidurals no success
physical therapy/pain med no success
Refuse Fusion
Bone scan shows L5-S1 pars defect will hold ADR @ L4-5
7/31/07 pro-disc L4-5 Dr. Robert Watkins Jr. Marina Spine Institute-Mari

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:32 AM
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Default 4-9-2008

hi ,
below is a link to the manufacturer site, of interest may be the template for the 'letter of medical necessity', the patient leter of appeal prior to surgery-, the 'physician letter of appeal prior to surgery'. also, if you go to the 2nd link there is access to the fda approval info for the disc l.

not sure if this is useful but thought it may be of interest. good luck,



L4/5, L5/S1 disc prolapses post wakeboarding accident Oct 06 (grade 5 and grade 4 annular disruption, repectively). 2X epidural steroid injections, lots of drugs and conservative treatment, positive discogram. Surgery May 08 (L4/5 A-Mav disc replacement and L5/S1 ALIF)

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 04:49 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:33 AM
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Default 4-13-2008

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hello OsteoRach,

Thank you for the links.
Can always use some information. Even though I have been on a lot of sites, I always find something new.

Take care.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:36 AM
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Default 4-18-2008

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Hello, Judy.

I haven't had to have any injections yet. I hope I won't get any and this bursitis will go away. After looking on this board and another, it seems that hip bursitis is real common after fusion or ADR operations.
I thought I was rid of the hip ache until I went out today and probably over did it. Back to icing now.
If this is my biggest problem right now, I am doing pretty good.
At the five week post-op period, I have no sciatica to speak of, have little like muscle aches in my legs, slight tingling or warmth in my extremities off and on, and my pain is decreasing until I go out in the world.

I feel like I really should use my walker in public. Today, I was at a mail place and a lady ran into me pretty hard. And I had my brace on and nothing over it.

I feel like sometimes I am a sitting target. After all, I don't move that fast, to prevent collisions. LOL.

Still experiencing fatigue. I went out twice today and am ready to hit the hay, but ER is on tonight.

Judy, who was your grievance with?
If you didn't see, the District Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, brought civil action against WellPoint, which Blue Cross of California is a subsidary, yesterday.
Finally, there might be some justice. We will have to wait and see.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 04:52 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:38 AM
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Default 4-19-08

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Originally posted by runner:
At the five week post-op period, I have no sciatica to speak of, have little like muscle aches in my legs, slight tingling or warmth in my extremities off and on, and my pain is decreasing until I go out in the world.

I feel like sometimes I am a sitting target. After all, I don't move that fast, to prevent collisions. LOL.



Slow movement in public places makes me a moving target too, and no surgery, chuckling on this side.

Physical Therapy article from Australia is linked below if you have time to read and bandwidth. The PT people, Physiomax, Queensland-Australia, authors, work with Dr. Matthew Scott-Young, see March 2006 Link, 622 KB.

Dr. Young, Australia, did an abstract for AANS-CNS 2007 Annual Meeting, on his experience over ten (10) years of doing single-level disc replacements (article.link).

Slackwater
mva: two-level lumbar surgical candidate
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Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:40 AM
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Default 4-19-2008

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Thanks Slackwater,

I think I can use that 10-year study, so very helpful. Thanks for the Aussie link too, because I have been gathering articles for my physical therapists when I start PT.
Thanks a lot.
Yup, I am a non-moving target, plenty of people have run into me before but I was quite surprised the other day. The lady did say she was sorry, but I don't think people notice braces like they see walkers or wheelchairs.
I have to be careful.

One thing I felt after surgery was the feeling of being fragile. Oh well. Monday I have another doc appt and get some x-rays and will see how I am doing.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:41 AM
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Default 5-5-2008

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Hello out there to fellow lumbar disc patients,

I just finished listening to the live webcast put on from Miami, and found it very interesting.
Well, now I am almost eight weeks out after surgery and feel that I kind of have plateued in as far as pain improvement last week and how energenic I am.
I am taking less narcotics but still have some pain, which is increased with activity. So I have been weaning off my brace, which my doctor instructed me to, and not overdoing it.
I would like some comments about how other people remember feeling at 8 weeks.
Thanks.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:42 AM
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Hi

At around eight week I was pretty disappointed that I wasn't doing as well as I had anticipated. The inital euphoria of having the surgery had worn off and I felt worse at the 8-12 week mark than I did at 6 weeks. However, things did improve with time and I am a world better than pre-op; all that is now a distant memory and at over four years I have no regrets about having the lumbar surgery.

Take good care and give it time.

Best wishes

Lynda
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Cervical Activ C, C5/6 & C6/7, Feb 2008
Craniotomy and excision frontal lobe brain tumour, May 2006
Lumbar ProDiscs, L4/5 & L5/S1, Feb 2004

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Old 04-05-2009, 05:44 AM
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Default 5-5-2008

Looking back at my posts, one weeks was up and the next down. Even now at 5 months I am just coming out of a bad month but feeling a lot better. This is not the recovery I expected.
Phylly
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Cervical fusion C4-C6 2002
Fall on tailbone April 2005
Discogram positive at L4-S1 2007
Prodisc ADR surgery L4-L5-S1 November 2007 Dr. Delamarter
Decompression surgery L4-S1 for left sided sciatica July 2008
Continued back pain, looking at possible fusion
Removal of Prodiscs and L4-S1 fusion February 2009
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:46 AM
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Default 5-5-2008

Hey all! Good conference. I'm glad you guys are making progress. It sometimes is a roller-coaster ride.

Hang in there!

Terry Newton
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1980 ruptured L4-L5
1988 ruptured SI-L5
1990 ruptured C5-C6
1994 ruptured C6-C7
1995 Hemi-Laminectomy C5-C6, C6-C7 Mayo Clinic
Bicycle Accident 2004
MRI, EMG, Facet Injections, Epidural Blocks, Lumbar Discogram.
Stenum Hospital Surgery November 4, 2006
Prestige Disc C5-C6, C6-C7
Maverick Disc S1-L5, L4-L5


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Old 04-05-2009, 05:48 AM
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Default 5-6-2008

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Berry, Phylly and Terry,

Thanks so much for the quick responses.
I feel better now, knowing that what I am experiencing is similar to what some of you have experienced.

You know before surgery, most of us are so used to terrible pain 24/7 and it kind of overshadows everything in our life. One of the persons in the video preview, which was played today on the Miami ADR conference, spoke about his life being centered around pain control, and I could really relate because before my surgery that could easily describe my life.
My actions revolved around attempting to lessen my pain and some activities were out of reach. Like I stopped going to the movies, leaving the house for the most part, etc..
Now, that I am into my recovery, I am trying to get back to a more "normal" life and my pain is a lot less but it is still there. Like a lot of people on here, I expected to be further along at 8 weeks. But there is no template about how each of our recoveries is supposed to go.

I start getting upset with my recovery, until I think about how major of a surgery disc replacement is. I forget that 8 weeks ago, I had terrible back and stomach pain after surgery. And now, a lot of that pain is gone, but not all.
I guess I have never really liked roller-coaster rides and more so as I get older. LOL.

My husband was doing the looking over the shoulder bit earlier tonight when I was reading posts on this site and he told me, to be careful that if I read too much about ADRs, a "bad outcome" might be a self-fulfilling prospect.
I tried to tell him that being able to relate to people on here, helps me deal with whatever may come up post-surgery. I am not expecting something bad to happen to me just because it occurred with someone else.
My hubby didn't quite get it.

The whole point to coming on here is that people on here can relate to what I am going through and vice-versa
.
Thanks so much for listening. I really appreciate people on here speaking frankly about their experience with their recoveries.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:51 AM
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Well almost at 10 weeks post-op and am feeling better last few days. At week 8, I felt really really good and then week 9, not so good.
Somehow must of overdone it.

I now have more letters to write. I really cannot believe the misinformation and lies that spreads around. It is like cow--you know what.
You know I found out my surgery was actually authorized and the insurance company just won't pay for it.

Went to church this Sunday and one of my friends there told me she was surprised I looked so good at this point in my recovery. She had family members who had fusion and have never been able to get off pain meds or get away from severe pain.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:53 AM
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Too much work.... we can find a better way... maybe save web pages and post with just a link to it?

I can't do anything now... leaving for my surgery in a few hours...

Don't bust a gut to post all this...

Mark
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2000 L4-5 Microdiscectomy/laminotomy
2001 L5-S1 Micro-d/lami
2002 L4-S1 Charite' ADR - SUCCESS!
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:53 AM
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June 11, 2008--
Three months since disc surgery at L4/5. Just started physical therapy this week and had some today and now I am sore.
Cutting back on meds slowly.

I am happy with my pain levels for this point in recovery but I am not happy with how big my stomach is.
I gained at least 8 pounds in one week and I think it is the neurotin. I look about five months pregnant. I've had people ask me if I am expecting. Anyone out there have this problem?

I saw the neurosurgeon on June 2 and i asked to get off the Neurotin but got a "no" to that question. He wants me weaning one med at a time, which makes sense. I seem to have only right foot nerve pain so the neurotin is probably helping that.

Fatigue level is better but I am still needing to take mid-day naps.
I just get so darn tired.
Of course taking care of children doesn't help. School is almost out.

I still have problems with constipation and that is maybe why i resemble the Michellin tire boy. I think having the ileus after surgery hasn't helped.

A slow recovery but progress being made. Not using brace anymore since, May 31.

Surgery was definitely worth it.

Right now, I have a hard time believing I will be back to work by September. There is no way I am going to push this recovery.

I like how some doctors say people have no restrictions. Does that mean people can go from zero to sixty. My doc isn't like that.

Restrictions now are no lifting more than 15-20 pounds and if it feels heavy; can bend but not too much, no twisting, can stationary bike, small stomach crunches, physical therapy, and walking.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:55 AM
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Default 6-12-2008

Congratulations. it sounds like your recovery is right on schedule. Sometimes it's two steps forwards and three steps back. hang in there and you will continue to get better.

Terry Newton
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1980 ruptured L4-L5
1988 ruptured SI-L5
1990 ruptured C5-C6
1994 ruptured C6-C7
1995 Hemi-Laminectomy C5-C6, C6-C7 Mayo Clinic
Bicycle Accident 2004
MRI, EMG, Facet Injections, Epidural Blocks, Lumbar Discogram.
Stenum Hospital Surgery November 4, 2006
Prestige Disc C5-C6, C6-C7
Maverick Disc S1-L5, L4-L5

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:06 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:56 AM
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Hi,
I am so glad that you are doing so well and really appreciate your writing style and honesty describing your recovery. At 6 months post op I am doing okay most days and go out and do errands and try to treadmill every other day. I do wear my brace after the blip I had and want to go to PT again, but I got a No on that for now. I still also have pain but it's very low.
I also have sciatica which was not helped by the surgery so I have a dilemma about having the foramina surgery. I may go for one more injection first. The nuerontin definitely does not help with weight loss. I am on a lot and it makes you hungry.
I am still waiting to hear from Blue Cross after I submitted another round of bills from the hospital. I will probably go ahead with a lawyer to write to Blue Cross. It is such a pain to try to get money after the surgery. It is also expensive and we both have had to pay so much. I wish you the best on getting back your money. Eventually this will be covered; they are SO LAME.
KEEP UP THE GREAT RECOVERY, 3 months seemed like a turning point for me I hope it is for you too.
Phylly
__________________
Cervical fusion C4-C6 2002
Fall on tailbone April 2005
Discogram positive at L4-S1 2007
Prodisc ADR surgery L4-L5-S1 November 2007 Dr. Delamarter
Decompression surgery L4-S1 for left sided sciatica July 2008
Continued back pain, looking at possible fusion
Removal of Prodiscs and L4-S1 fusion February 2009

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:07 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:05 AM
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Default 6-12-2008

Terry,

Thanks for your reply. You are an inspiration to me, having such a major surgery(s) and being able to get back your life.

It is a tough recovery and I think the hard part is that some people think you should be all better three months out or four or five or whatever. The problem is I don't feel all better.

I certainly look majorly bloated.It starts below the middle of my rib cage and down past my belly button. I have a difficult time dealing with how I look, especially when I have been so athletic all my life. I wasn't what I call, "lean" right before I had surgery. Because the surgery kept being cancelled and I could not do much exercise at all after November-December because of the pain, my strong core muscles deteriorated.
I wasn't, however, looking like what I look like now.
Before the back pain began, now more than a year ago, I was getting in the best shape I had been in a long time. It was two years after having my fourth child. I was running well and exercising at least six days a week.
Then Bam, my life was turned upside down and things just kept getting worse.

I start thinking I shouldn't complain because that killer back pain is gone. But I can't wear my levis and it is downright depressing.

Throw in an insurance fight in the middle of all of this and things look bleaker.

I think my recovery is good, especially when I think about how awful I felt before ADR surgery. I am a worrier. Now I am fretting about reducing the pain meds. I am not sure I can cut the oxy dose by half. I have eliminated one dose during the day and now am taking it twice a day.

I keep telling myself to concentrate on the recovery and that is all I need to do. Unfortunately, I have a messy house. I have files and files of stuff on ADRs and I am a bit overwhelmed.

What do you do to keep your eyes on your recovery?

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:10 AM
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Default 6-15-2008

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To all who have wondered how recovery can seem so easy for me the answer is; "It wasn't and isn't." The big difference for me is that we are all in various disease stages prior to the surgery and it is dangerous to compare ourselves to others though this is the natural inclination. I was in good condition pre-surgery and always have been before any surgery I have ever had. I have had three major spinal surgeries and a shoulder surgery. I also refuse to allow pain to control my life. I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia years ago and my doctor always complimented me on being his best patient. I understand the best pain medication is endorphins that the brain produces with hard-core aerobic activity. I have cycled for years which I continue to do. I rode many miles the year of the surgery and rode over 2,000 while healing from the surgery. I don't know how much time I have before I am debilitated and this scares the shit out of me. I continue to stay active and have well over 600 miles so far year to date. I believe that active people tolerate our condition better than inactive people. I have always forced myself to remain active and not let my condition run my life. I am hopeful that everyone here can do the same thing and push beyond the pain. If anyone wishes to discuss this further, please let me know. I am definitely not bragging as I see myself having the potential to be in a wheelchair some day. I just refuse to have it be today.

Terry Newton
__________________
1980 ruptured L4-L5
1988 ruptured SI-L5
1990 ruptured C5-C6
1994 ruptured C6-C7
1995 Hemi-Laminectomy C5-C6, C6-C7 Mayo Clinic
Bicycle Accident 2004
MRI, EMG, Facet Injections, Epidural Blocks, Lumbar Discogram.
Stenum Hospital Surgery November 4, 2006
Prestige Disc C5-C6, C6-C7
Maverick Disc S1-L5, L4-L5
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:13 AM
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Default 6-19-2008

Hello everyone,

I have been reading your comments, thanks so much. I will write later. Feeling pretty good but I am in San Francisco this week and I am a bit sore. Flying is tough on an ADR patient. Not too bad.
I'm doing my best to help us get ADR approved by those large, stupid, insurance companies which are making it a hell for a lot of us.
No I am not taking up arms. Just protesting.

Take Care,

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:15 AM
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Default 6-21-2008

Maybe we should take up arms against these idiots! You know, punch a few of them in the nose with raised arms! Maybe they'd wake up a bit and move into the current century of health care. Glad you're doing well and hope the trip brings about some good results.

Terry

I know what you mean by not giving in to the pain. I think some people just give up and end up old before their time. My doc said to me a few years ago, 'I'd never ask you to stop playing golf because I know how important it is to you.' That's why he's still my doc after all this time! He gets me and my competitive spirit! We have to fight. Sometimes the fight seems unfair, but what else can you do?! These were the cards I was dealt and if I don't learn to play them I'll suffer further. Ain't my style! I don't think it's your either. Keep up the good fight everyone!

Missy
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:17 AM
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hello everyone,

Well, it is almost four months post surgery (7-9-08) and I am anxious to loose weight and get going. I think three mile walks may be a bit too much now.

It is difficult to tell what activity won't set the muscles off. So anyway on Monday at PT, my piriformis muscles and the muscles that run along the spine are very achy.
Getting better, slowly.

runner

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:18 AM
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Default 7-22-2008

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi,
Sorry for your achy muscles. It seems to take quite awhile to know what activities your body can handle. I found after 6 months things were a lot better. What does your PT do for your piriformis muscle? That area seems to be a bugger with me too. Massage was good at times and other times it seemed to irritate those muscles. I hope that you feel better soon.
I also found that shorter walks were better for my back especially if I spent a lot of time with errands. Take care and keep in touch.
Phylly
__________________
Cervical fusion C4-C6 2002
Fall on tailbone April 2005
Discogram positive at L4-S1 2007
Prodisc ADR surgery L4-L5-S1 November 2007 Dr. Delamarter
Decompression surgery L4-S1 for left sided sciatica July 2008
Continued back pain, looking at possible fusion
Removal of Prodiscs and L4-S1 fusion February 2009

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Old 04-05-2009, 06:23 AM
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Hello Phylly,

I am now at 19 weeks post op. The piriformis muscles are still tight, but looser than a few weeks ago.
My PT does manual massage on the muscles and the paraspinal muscles and it seems to help a lot.
I saw my neurosurgeon yesterday and he said I didn't need PT anymore (hopefully after the four sessions I have scheduled).
Six weeks of PT seems short, but that is the way it goes.
I told my doc that my stomach muscles are really weak still. I also told him I weaned myself off the oxycontin. It was messing my stomach up so much and now I am a bit crabby because advil and tylenol does not get rid of the pain as well of course.
I haven't been sleeping well and he attributed it to the effects of the oxy. I think back pain is waking me up or making my sleep restless.
I wish there was some manual we can follow. I asked my doc about lifting weight restrictions and this time he said try not to lift and keep it to 10 and 15 pounds. Last appointment in June, he said 20-25 pounds were okay.
I lift the trash bag and not much other than that.
My little boy weighs about 34-35 pounds so he is out. I miss picking him up.

It is a very weird summer for all of us. Normally, I would be going out a lot more, but when i think of going to the beach with the kids that doesn't thrill me. I have to plan around activities I can control.

A normal summer for us would be more full of stuff to do. I would be going to summer all-comer track meets, but that isn't the case this year.

With the walks, what I have noticed is that I am ok if I don't do hills or inclines. That is what enraged my piriformis muscles last time.

Got PT tomorrow and nobody called to cancel it so that's good. At least it gets me out of the house.

Hang in there, Phylly. Sorry you had to have another surgery, but I am glad you are healing up.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:27 AM
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Default 7-23-2008

Sometimes if the PT or the Doc deems it medically necessary, they can extend the PT. It sounds like you can use a little more so maybe give it a go. Your insurance company can possibly be persuaded. . When do you go back to work?

I actually forgot the name of what the PT used, some sort of sonic massage machine on the piriformis which helped too. I miss PT for now but hopefully soon. It's only been two weeks and except for the pin feeling stabbing my butt I am doing really well. My feet will be next week so I am really a basket case for now. This is the summer of procedures and the last procedure I will tackle before next year.

I am happy for you, you have a great attitude and that is most important. If you are out of your brace you have more control over the stomach muscles (not sure where you are with that), you have probably weaned out by now. I was told to practice tightening the core stomach muscles without tightening the piriformis.
Keep up the great work and spirit too.
Phylly
__________________
Cervical fusion C4-C6 2002
Fall on tailbone April 2005
Discogram positive at L4-S1 2007
Prodisc ADR surgery L4-L5-S1 November 2007 Dr. Delamarter
Decompression surgery L4-S1 for left sided sciatica July 2008
Continued back pain, looking at possible fusion
Removal of Prodiscs and L4-S1 fusion February 2009

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:29 AM
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Default 7-23-2008

Phylly,

What are you doing with your feet? bunions?
It is just a guess.
Yeah, the best thing about working at PT is the pilates reformer. I don't have one at home and I know it is expensive to take classes.
I am supposed to go back to work in September. I have an appointment at mid-month with the doc. Sounds like standard follow up. So we will see. That is about six months post op. I will cross that bridge when I need to.
My piriformis guys are better today.
PT granted a total of 20 visits. (12 at first and then added 8).
I don't see why B or anyone else isn't approving people that meet the FDA stipulations and don't have any contraindications for the disc.
And have a reputable surgeon.
I am pleased so far with my little disc.
Take care

____________

Last edited by runner; 06-10-2009 at 04:57 AM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:31 AM
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Default 7-23-2008

steelskyway

Location: Los Angeles



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi,

Hey I am just past 6 weeks and I figure I will have my follow up with Dr. D in several weeks. I am walking 1.5 miles x2/day. I notice you mention your PT and piriformis muscles. How did you know you had the right PT people? I would greatly appreciate some pointed questions I should ask them prior to starting? Any assistance would be great!!
__________________
MVA on 20AUG07 at work
L4/L5 Annular Tear
One failed epidural 12OCT08
Discogram 10FEB08
ADR Prodisc L 10JUN08

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:33 AM
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Default 7-23-2008

Yes, bunionettes on the little toes. I figure I might as well do it since I have to lay low for a few weeks anyway. I have school district group insurance and since I did not work in the same district for 10 consecutive years I will be losing my insurance. I had worked for 17 years but had to take an early retirement or totally fall apart. I feel in a rush to get all my medical issues dealt with this year. (Mentally this is the last one) You are smart to try to go back to work in the time frame you have. I am sure by next June if you have to wait, you will be great!

I also love the pilates reformer but that is what used to cause my leg to burn. Even though I have all my sciatic symptoms I am hoping they will get better when the swelling in my back goes down. It sometimes feels like a pin sticking in my butt-ouch.

Paul, if this helps, look for a PT that has had experience with people with ADR's. I asked at each place I called if they saw other patients with artificial discs. I had a lot of interesting answers. Dr. D. also had a list in a book with PT's in different areas. That might be a place to start. I would definitely make sure I went to someone with experience because it is easy to mess up in the beginning by going to fast. Good luck finding someone.
Phylly
__________________
Cervical fusion C4-C6 2002
Fall on tailbone April 2005
Discogram positive at L4-S1 2007
Prodisc ADR surgery L4-L5-S1 November 2007 Dr. Delamarter
Decompression surgery L4-S1 for left sided sciatica July 2008
Continued back pain, looking at possible fusion
Removal of Prodiscs and L4-S1 fusion February 2009

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:38 AM
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Default 7-29-2008

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I went to a physical therapist in kind of an unorthodox way. The PTs I am going to are not experts in ADRs. I know one of the PTs because she is my neighbor and I went to her before my back started hurting on an unrelated matter.
I copied a PT guide they use in the National Health Services in England and gave it to my PT.
The PTs are however really experienced, having worked in hospitals before venturing out on their own. They have also taken care of a lot of fusion/back patients and know my doctor well.

Because I have run a long time, I have had the fortune or misfortune of encountering different PTs. They are not all created equal. Some don't care too much about you and others do.

I would suggest finding a PT that is highly recommended and your doctor knows. I too have a list of exercises/stretches to do at home. I do a lot of work on a pilates reformer machine to try to get my core muscles strong.

I don't know about a lot of people on here, but my core muscles went to mush after my surgery. I really worked on getting them strong before surgery and then puff, it seems like all the hard work vanished post op.
I know they don't cut the abdominal muscles during the surgery, but whatever they do (separate the rextus muscles?), lays waste to the core muscles and makes it difficult to try to get back to square one.

I mean what the heck. I didn't expect the core muscles to be so shot. So I found myself working harder post op than pre op.

The majority of the exercises I do in PT are for core stabilization.

PT poops me out and I have been doing it three times a week and each session lasts about an hour and a half.

There are good PTs out there but you might have to shop around.

Hope everyone is improving daily.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:41 AM
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Default 8-6-2008

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Hey,

Sat through Batman (The Dark Knight) movie without worrying about my back.
Couldn't do that before surgery.
My back is little sore when I got up. But that was a three-hour sit.
Hooray.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:45 AM
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Default 8-23-2008

August 23, 2008, 24 1/2 weeks, about two weeks short of six months post surgery.

Same old story. It is two steps forward and one back. Friday, was back one step as I did something different in PT and have irritated my back muscles.
So it goes. As the back turns...

Went to a pilates class last week and felt real out of shape. I work out and end up hurting and then push ahead. It is difficult to be consistent, except I faithfully go to PT three times a week. It helps.

Next doc appointment is mid-September. I am storing up my questions for him. I look forward to the day that I have less doctor appointments and am feeling more normal--whatever that is.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:47 AM
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Hey runner,

I was curious what your PT consists of. I will have my follow-up on Wednesday and understand they will wean me from my corset and then start PT sometime in mid to late September. I just want to make sure I do the right exercises.

I had to shift gears from two long walks (2 miles each) to several smaller walks account it was aggravating the muscles.

Glad to see you are reaching a new level of "normal"!!
__________________
MVA on 20AUG07 at work
L4/L5 Annular Tear
One failed epidural 12OCT08
Discogram 10FEB08
ADR Prodisc L 10JUN08

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Old 04-05-2009, 06:50 AM
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Steel,

I will answer you about the PT exercises soon. I have to go for a walk right now. Keep it up. I think it will be a short walk today since my back is a little sore today.
I found a while back that walks over 2 miles hurt some so I'm probably keeping it under 2 for the most part. Last week had a long walk and it took 35 minutes--which is under three miles for sure (I was walking at a good pace).

Feels good when I get to sweat a bit.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:52 AM
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Default 8-25-2008

Hi Steel,

A synopsis of a typical PT day:
1) Start off with laying down on a heat pad for about 10 minutes.

2) PT works on piriformis and spinal muscles, massaging them, getting them looser, putting his elbow into my tight muscles, etc..

3) Stretches with PT doing them. Hamstring, piriformis.

4)Onto the pilates reformer machine. Three exercises, 1) core exercise with feet at table top position, towel between my calves, 2) Heels together, and my hands in straps together--another core exercise like below, initially used ball between knees, 3) hamstring stretch using the pilates strap and recently added, 4) stretching hip flexors on pilates.

5) Walking across room with band around ankles, sideways, about four times.

6) me hooked up in harness as PT guy resists my movement. Forward, sideways and backwards. Four times each way. Coming back facing the same way as to work each side. (Picture a horse howing a field)

7) Bosso ball, balance on ball and hold stick as therapist resists your movement. Knees bent. aND two exercises using low-weight dumbbells (3 pounds?)

8)Bird dogs--hands and feet on cushion bench. making sure not to raise feet too high.

Also different exercises that have irritated my back and thus were discontinued. Fishes on boso ball. No rotational exercises, no full-bridges. No cobra like movements.
Paying a lot of attention to keeping a pelvic tilt with core exercises.
Finish off with laying on ice pad for 10 minutes.

I also have home exercises that I do.

Knee to Chest stretch, bilateral

Pelvic tilt

Supine hamstring strech

Supine piriformis stretch

Gastroc stretch

Soleus stretch

Bird dogs, Arm/leg extension

Trunk stability, straight leg raise

Pelvic tilt with crunches, lifting shoulders off floor.

Steel, you got to remember that my PTs have not done ADR patients before. They are just really good PTs (there are three of them) and I usually now work with only one.
I gave the PT all the PT info I had and he made up a program. They have worked extensively with fusion patients so they have a lot of experience, but some exercises have been kind of hit and miss. Like I did some arm pulls and that messed with my back so no more arm pulls or lat pulls.
Some exercises just don't work and so we have scrapped them.

It varies on how my back feels and how I am doing. Sessions last usually an hour-and-a-half.

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Old 04-05-2009, 06:53 AM
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Default 8-26-2008

Thank you soooo much for this valuable input with regard to PT. I have my follow up tomorrow and would expect to hit the PT path in the next month. I will use your post as a guide when I am out asking questions of the different PT options made available to me. Thank you.

Paul
__________________
MVA on 20AUG07 at work
L4/L5 Annular Tear
One failed epidural 12OCT08
Discogram 10FEB08
ADR Prodisc L 10JUN08

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Old 04-05-2009, 06:57 AM
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Default 9-16-2008

Hi everybody,

Had my six month check-up today and it sure doesn't seem like six months ago that I got my Pro-disc at L4/L5.
Time does fly.
This isn't exactly how I pictured I would feel at six months, but this is one heck of a roller-coaster recovery.
The good news is that my Pro-disc is working perfectly and the x-rays look great.
The not so great news is that I cannot go back to work at this time as I have increased back pain and sciatica. The sciatica started 10 days ago and hasn't abated. Also have numbness in both lower legs/feet and right upper leg. Kind of comes and goes to different spots.

So going into this appointment today, I knew I had some nerve irritation, just not what was causing it.

y Dr. thinks it is from micro tear(s) in another disc. He told me this can happen after ADR surgery.

So I was told to ice, take Aleve (I have already started that), walk and skip PT for the rest of the week, to try to calm this down.

I hope this is just another bump in the road and not something more.

Has anyone had something similar happen to them? I see the doc in 4-5 weeks and take it from there. It doesn't sound that bad, but to get back similar symptoms that I had before surgery is kind of scary.

I didn't miss the numb feet and shins and whatever.
The doc said something about phonophoresis or something they can do in physical therapy. Luckily, I have a good PT and I can continue PT.

Though, I am kind of on the stop-the-train-I-want-to-get-off mode. You go through major surgery and you want to just get better and leave behind the stuff you had before surgery.
I really enjoyed going for a walk for an hour. That was fun in its way, this isn't.


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Old 04-05-2009, 06:58 AM
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ooo, I really hope you're able to get that pain to calm down. I havne't run into a problem like that yet, but at only 3 months, who knows what I'm in store for next. I do know that icing my back has been my life line now that I'm ramping up the difficulty of my PT exercises. I've got my fingers crossed for ya.

~Sara
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*************************
27 yrs old
Lumbar herniation L5/S1

- Did mild PT, some chiropractics and self regulated pain management since initial sports injury in Spring 1997.
- XRay and Bone Scan Jan/Feb 2007
- PT March to May 2007
- MRI Jan 2008
- Disco positive at L5/S1 Feb 2008
- ADR surgery at L5/S1 on June 23rd 2008 - Prodisc
- Recovery - so far so good!
*************************
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:00 AM
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Thanks so much, Sara, for your post.

Yes, you have to be careful. On Aug. 22, I was in PT and felt a sharp pain on my right side of my back and then nothing. I was doing the side stepping band exercise and felt it again and my therapist noticed.
After that we took out some back exercises and that seemed to help.
My therapist then thought that my muscle soreness was caused by my weak back and hip flexor muscles. My core muscles have gotten a lot stronger but getting the back muscles strong has been more difficult.

Anyway I didn't feel any sciatica until Sept 5th and around the same time, I started getting increased numbness in my lower legs and for the first time since my surgery, numbness above my knees.

Any exercise causes me pain, it is eighty-sixed.

The thing is it is real easy to tick off your back muscles after surgery. People have mentioned on here that walking hills can hurt as well as walking too far.

It is a balancing act to try to get core/back muscles strengthened and not cause more problems.
I think this is the case whether you have ADR or fusion.

The sciatica I have been feeling intermittently cranked itself up this morning. It feels like I tore my right hamstring.
Taking tylenol and aleve for pain and inflammation and using ice, of course.

Resting a little, too. There just is not much downtime in my household with four kids running around. But there is no boredom, either. Too much to do.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:01 AM
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Hi runner!

Aw shxx!! I am sorry to hear about the set back. Now you have me scared. I was proud of how far you have come. So what type of exercises will you do to strengthen the core? I will be thinking of you as you stuggle back up the hill once again.

Paul
__________________
MVA on 20AUG07 at work
L4/L5 Annular Tear
One failed epidural 12OCT08
Discogram 10FEB08
ADR Prodisc L 10JUN08

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:05 AM
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Hey Steel,

Well, Doc would have cleared me for work if I didn't have any new symptoms. Unfortunately, I did.
I am surprised with the sciatica. It was a bear Tuesday and seems to have calmed down, i.e. just burning and not that ouchy pain for the most part.
But I have been dosing it with antiinflammatories (Aleve or Naprosyn Sodium) and started Neurotin (Gabapentin generic) yesterday. I feel that really helps the sciatica, but I haven't taken it for at least a couple months and the first one put me to sleep.

Went for a walk today and it wasn't bad. So a little progress.

The good news is that the back pain ain't terrible.

My mental outlook is maybe one of resignation because since the sciatica appeared, i knew something was wrong.

Actually, my core muscles are not bad. It is the back muscles which are weaker.
Hopefully, this is a minor bump in the road and like H and Terry keep saying, slow and steady and there are some bumps so just watch it.

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:06 AM
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Oh, yeah.
Steel, also want to tell you that the Disc is working fine.
I had the flexion and extension xrays on Monday and it is working just like it is supposed to do. Doc said it looked great...so that is what you have to look forward to at six months. The xrays are cool because you bend back as far as you can without pain and then reach down to touch your toes.
No, I cannot touch my toes yet, but got to my knees.
Keep the faith.

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:08 AM
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runner:

It does sound like nothing more than a bump in the roller coaster ride of recovery for you. I hope and pray that is all there is to it. I try to be optimistic with everyone and sometimes my optimism has not held out as the person's difficulty was not just a bump. Hopefully that is not the case for you. It is only six months and this is a long recovery process. It took me all of 20 months to really start feeling good and I still have my moments. The cool and dampness of Fall has hurt a little in the last couple of weeks intermittently. I do have 1,600 miles ridden so far this season with more rides coming up. I am going to believe that you will get there yet yourself.

Hang in there and continue to take it easy.

Terry Newton
__________________
1980 ruptured L4-L5
1988 ruptured SI-L5
1990 ruptured C5-C6
1994 ruptured C6-C7
1995 Hemi-Laminectomy C5-C6, C6-C7 Mayo Clinic
Bicycle Accident 2004
MRI, EMG, Facet Injections, Epidural Blocks, Lumbar Discogram.
Stenum Hospital Surgery November 4, 2006
Prestige Disc C5-C6, C6-C7
Maverick Disc S1-L5, L4-L5

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:10 AM
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Thanks Terry.

I hope and pray it is just a bump and not some big mountain. Your story is inspirational to me and I kind of knew to expect that this would not be an easy recovery.
I didn't expect a problem with another disc. With all my research, I didn't come upon the idea of micro tears in other discs after surgery.
My CT discogram back in October, 2007, only showed an annular tear in L4/5 and all the other discs were okay.
Who knows?? I am just trying not to lift or bend too much until things calm down.
The Gabapentin has already caused some fluid retention. I blame this little med for putting 20 pounds on me but I worry more about nerve symptoms than the side effects of this drug.
Ultimately, I believe that I will get back to exercising and top shape like I was, but I will just have to approach the path to that a little differently. More cross-training and more core work, etc...
For now, it is do the home exercies, be careful, do PT and ice.

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:12 AM
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Hey runner,

I hope things start to smooth out for you...keep us posted!

-Justin

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:13 AM
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hello Justin,

Not doing too bad. Gabapentin helps sciatica a lot and I am doing most of my usual activities. Just paying attention to not lifting much and using my grabber instead of bending over and getting something.
I am tired of going to doctors. This has been record years for me in 2007 and 2008. I want to go back to work and enjoy this Disc.
And I'd like to be able to exercise more

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:15 AM
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Update of sorts,

Looks like I might be having problems with the L5/S1 disc but really don't know. My pain is apparently at that level and my sciatica is following some of the nerves that are at that level.

Anyway, started back with PT and had a phonophoresis hydrocortizone treatment. Nothing much new with the symptoms. One day I will feel pretty good and the next, have increased sciatica.
Doing okay on Aleve and Tylenol. The Gabapentin helps a lot but still making me sleepy, getting used to it slowly. Of course, my weight jumped when I restarted the Gabapentin (Neurotin).

Anyone out there had phonophoresis? And what is your experience?
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:16 AM
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runner,
I am so sorry to hear about your sciatica and numbness. These symptoms are so concerning and scary on the road to recovery. I have never been able to get rid of the sciatica in my right leg and am now developing some in the left leg. I sometimes wonder what is going on with our bodies? I do feel that the pilates can be hard on those back of leg muscles and hamstring insertion joints. Low weights may not irritate those areas as much as the heavier ones. I am not sure if you are still doing pilates but it was just a thought. Take care and be well.
Phylly
__________________
Cervical fusion C4-C6 2002
Fall on tailbone April 2005
Discogram positive at L4-S1 2007
Prodisc ADR surgery L4-L5-S1 November 2007 Dr. Delamarter
Decompression surgery L4-S1 for left sided sciatica July 2008
Continued back pain, looking at possible fusion
Removal of Prodiscs and L4-S1 fusion February 2009

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:17 AM
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Phylly, we are back.
No pilates. Do the phonophoresis treatment and then no exercises or walking until 24 hours later. Did some straight leg raises and pelvic tilts on Monday. Walked today about one mile or so.
Not exactly putting in six to eight mile runs. Hah Hah.

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:18 AM
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Doing some late night typing. I am getting sleepy but am winding down with some little laptp fun.
Went to a cardiovascular symposioum (heart) today, and have had a change in symptoms. In San Francisco, I would occassionally get a "sleepy" right foot and then it would go away and I had pain with sitting, but not awful.

This week, I went to back-to-school at the high school (walked), drove 35 minutes to Irvine and sat for one hour doing interview, and drove back, went to PT, and drove kids to practice. Then on Thursday, attended PT.

Today (Friday) went to syposoum but my right foot's plantar fascia was hurting while I was sitting. I got up to walk as much as possible during the symposium also because I am having a bit of back pain while sitting. Anyway, was standing for a while after seminar ended and then drove home, which was more than an hour drive and hit the Friday night traffic a bit.
So my right foot goes almost all numb and my right leg (up shins, knees, thigh and hamstring/glute) is also numb but not as much as foot. I thought I might have to get off the freeway and stamp my foot around a bit but I just concentrated on driving instead and wanted to get home as soon as possible. My left foot whidh I don't need to drive was the one that was just tingling and not like that.

I have never had my foot fall asleep like that when driving and it scared me a bit. I was a bit of a heavy foot--called "lead foot" when I was driving. `
So I iced my back as usual when I got back and my foot did wake up when I got out of my car although my glute remained numb.

This morning, my legs are tingling and my feet just while I am laying in bed. So a gradual increase of symptoms over the past week.

So what do you think? I have already been told that I have a micro tear in one of my other discs.


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Old 04-05-2009, 07:33 AM
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Update:

Looks like I am okay. Despite the tingling and numbness in my feet and legs, and radiculopathy (sciatica), I have been given the okay to start a work program in physical therapy.

I love backs, they are so darn confusing. I increased my Gabapentin (Neurotin) dose as the doc directed. I am now on 300 mg four times a day and can go up to six times a day if I need it and can tolerate it. I'll see how four times a day pans out.
Still, the side effects seem to be water retention and weight gain. I have lost six pounds since I got back on the gabapentin and initially gained weight, but that is not without a lot of effort on my part to eat more healthy and less.

Saturday, marks my seventh-month anniversary since surgery at L4/5. Yah--OOO.

When I was at the doctor's, I could get past my knees but still cannot touch my toes. I can really feel the mobility with the disc. I like the idea that I can get past my knees. Progress. Still cannot put shoes on normally. A lot of people probably have this problem post-op with stiff muscles that don't work quite the same as before surgery.

Still happy and grateful that I was able to get the surgery despite the insurance hell and such.

I am able to do some of this 'giving back stuff' now and able to so far stay off the narcotic pain meds so I can drive and do things. I am volunteering at a bone marrow drive tomorrow (Saturday) that a friend of mine has coordinated. There will be drives at several fire stations simultaneously and hopefully we will sign up several people and help save lives.

Keeping the faith and making progress.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:36 AM
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The bone marrow drive went well. I went to one fire station in a private community and ended up at another because that fire station didn't know anything about the drive.
We signed up eight people for the national marrow list.
At other firestations in the OC, other people signed up. So not too bad. My friend Gina is pleased but she continues to fight for better awareness of what signing up on the national registry means. Gina lost her son last November to a dreadful genetic disease called ALD.
In the past weeks, I have met a few people who were actually lucky enough to be picked, gave their marrow, and saved a life.
We back people might not yet be able to sign up. I found I was not since I have had back surgery in the past two years. But when i am elgible, I am signing up (70% of the time, the procedure is done through a plasma phoresis process where stem cells are filtered out of the blood and there is no hip puncture involved).
You can learn more at National Marrow Donor Program.

On to other matters, the lovely sciatica continues to hang on. Often, I sit down on a chair and have to get up because one leg or the other falls asleep. My feet also go numb when I walk. Sitting with my legs under me or trying to sit on the floor brings on the same effect. I recertified for my ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) certificate on Thursday and also did my regular CPR thing and we were doing CPR on dummies on the floor and I was inwardly aware of my feet and legs tingling and numb. Seems like some nerve impingement is going on. It is getting a bit tiring and old.

My PT put in for a home TENs unit through a script from my doc and so if insurance will pay for that, I can use it at home.
I used a portable one at PT so I could do more exercise. The reasoning is that i do more exercise, i loose more weight, I get stronger abs and back muscles and that translates into a more stable back.
I was allowed to do seven minutes on the eliptical trainer. Not much, considering in the not so distant past, I was able to run for an hour (this was before back pain and back surgery).

There is nothing worse (well, not really, but it seems like it) than a person who is used to high intensity exercise, not being able to exercise like that. I mean one mile walks do not cut if for me. But they seem to be the amount that is tolerated by my back currently.

I haven't had the charley horses in my calves lately but this morning at 4:45 one hit and out of bed I sprung. Seems to be a common problem after disc surgery. Sure woke me up and my husband.

Well that's the update.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:37 AM
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There is always tomarrow!!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am glad the drive went well. As for the sciatica I think it is great that you are able to plow the road ahead and work through the discomfort. I understand the frustration with exercise. I am waiting for the follow up next month to get some great PT going. Been power walking .75 miles in 15 minutes however that is not enough. I hope the TENS unit is approved! Keep making those forward strides.

Paul
__________________
MVA on 20AUG07 at work
L4/L5 Annular Tear
One failed epidural 12OCT08
Discogram 10FEB08
ADR Prodisc L 10JUN08

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:38 AM
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Runner:

It sounds like you are making steady progress. I am sure that you will be able to return to your active lifestyle in time. This is a butt kicking surgery that takes time to heal from. I'm glad the Charlie Horses have subsided some. We laughed about that sudden flying out of bed syndrome but it sure is difficult when you are going through it.

Keep hanging in there and let us know how things are progressing.

Terry Newton
__________________
1980 ruptured L4-L5
1988 ruptured SI-L5
1990 ruptured C5-C6
1994 ruptured C6-C7
1995 Hemi-Laminectomy C5-C6, C6-C7 Mayo Clinic
Bicycle Accident 2004
MRI, EMG, Facet Injections, Epidural Blocks, Lumbar Discogram.
Stenum Hospital Surgery November 4, 2006
Prestige Disc C5-C6, C6-C7
Maverick Disc S1-L5, L4-L5

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:39 AM
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Terry,

I don't know if I would say I am making progress. At least, the back pain isn't so bad. It scares me that I can point to two incidences where I felt very sharp back pain and then I had return of sciatica one week later.
I have decided that if things are not better by next Monday, that I will call my doc. I don't think I made it clear to him that my legs are numb or tingling most of the time. I don't have to sit to have my right foot fall asleep, it does that when I go for a walk. I often stamp my foot against the ground because it falls alseep when I am standing in the kitchen.
These are not symptoms I had before the sciatica returned. I had minor tingling before in my lower legs and had no sciatica.

I have a very intuitive sense of what happens physically. Meaning when I was taking care of patients on units, I often had a feeling that a patient might go south. I learned to listen to that sense and it helped my work.
I also have found I have that same sense about what happens to my body. I know when something is wrong; like I thought something was wrong when I first had the "extreme" backpain in 2007 and was being told repeatedly I just had a muscle strain.

Some muscle strain.

Now, I don't particularly like treatments or visits to doctors, but I cannot ignore how I feel. As much as I try to reason things away or think things are getting better, the fact is that I now have more severe sciatica than I had before surgery and the radiculopathy is much worse.
I just need to find out if this is the normal healing process or something else. Hopefully, it is just normal.

Right now I am kind of slouching back on the couch and typing with my laptop on a pillow. I have numbness, tingling or burning in both feet and shins and I have sciatica in my right leg despite taking my Gabapentin over an hour ago. The top of my feet feel cold right now and the right side of my back hurts. I have only been in this position for a few minutes. I know I cannot lie down all the time so I alternate positions.
I feel that my L4/5 disc is good. I do have increased flexiblility but I am limited in PT on how much i can do. I feel like what i do is very little. I have been an athlete all my life and miss being in shape.

Well, enough doomsday talk. Too many morose thoughts. My daughter had a play rehearsal today and I was in charge of the dinner to feed the kids. I was told I needed to feed 40 people. I made baked Ziti and it went over well. It was cool to see those teenagers scarfing down food. I mean I used to eat that way when I was 126 pounds and had the metabolism of a tiger. This is something I would not have been able to do before surgery since I was in too much back pain.
So it is nice to be able to cook and cook for 40 people, LOL.

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:41 AM
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I hope you can get answers and resolution to your current situation with your legs, feet, the numbness and tingling issues. I would say if your gut is telling you it's time to go back to the doctor with your questions, then do it. Whether it's normal or not, you need answers and reassurance, if nothing else. Peace of mind is golden. I totally am on the same page as you when it comes to the frustration of not being in shape, nor getting to be as athletic as I am used to being. It's just a very hard place to be. I try to focus on the good, the positives, keep my "can do" attitude in check, but it doesn't mean it's easy. My one daughter-in-law and I were at lunch one day, and she was remarking on how my son was telling her how active and athletic I used to be, and it occurred to me, that both my daughter-in-laws have only known me since the bicycle accident, along with my chronic pain, and all my limitations. It made me sad and kind of depressed. But, then it later motivated me. I will not stay stuck in this place. I have to get a strong back to hold my future grand-daughter. Period. Every day is a new day. New hope. New beginnings. Chances. I will hold these same thoughts for you, as you seek answers and hope to move forward with your healing process.
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CindyLou
bicycle accident 6/19/01
2 compression fractures sustained, T12, L1;
vertibroplasty @ above levels, 9/15/01
4/06 right hip labral tear repair
4/07 Lumbar ProDisc replacement by Dr. Bertagnoli, 3 levels; L3-6
7/2/08 ALIF and Laminectomy of L6-S1
7/30/08 Removed bone cement that leaked thru onto S1 nerve root.
8/7/08 Diagnosed with pulmonary embolism, double pneumonia, collapsed left lung, pleurisy, pleural effusion. Hospitalized 1 wk.
Wear bone growth stimulator 2 hrs per day.

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:41 AM
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks Cindy.

Yeah, looking at me now, you couldn't tell that I was a really fast runner in 2006 and part of 2007.
That motivates me, the wanting to get in shape and feel good again.
When are the grandchildren coming??
Having a goal is important.
Had a good workout in PT today, was finally sweating. The muscle stimmulator helps block the back pain signals.
I wore it for all the exercises. 15 minutes on the elyptical trainer today.
The first thing my PT asked me was when my doc appointment was. Haven't called yet i told him.
I am waiting to see if my legs will return to normal feelings. Today is a little better than yesterday, so i will see.
Tomorrow is another day.

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:43 AM
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Runner,

Am curious. What is a muscle stimulator? Who prescribed it, or does it not need a prescription? I start with my regular physical therapist next week. I did the warm water therapy at a different place in downtown Minneapolis, that my doctor wanted me to try. I had 5 sessions. Only one of them was with an actual certified physical therapist. The other times I had an "assistant." She was super busy. Never seemed to pay attention to my form on the exercises. Would just walk away to tend to other business, and then come back to tell me what to do next. All in all, a lousy experience. My regular physical therapist who has been with me thru a number of years of my surgeries, watches every step, every move I make. Corrects me. Gives me alternative ways to do things, if something hurts too much. She is also a certified Pilates instructor and fitness instructor. I can't wait to get back to her and get busy with the real business of p.t., some electrical stim. for my muscle spasms, and tens unit, which I don't even know what that is.

I did my own treadmill walk last night, and could only do 20 minutes as my back just continues to tighten up. Very frustrating. Certainly not burning the calories like I would want to. I am still on 4 percocet a day, and know that I should get off it. I hate still being on it. I'm going to ask my doc at next scheduled appt., which is Monday, 10/27, if we should just work up a tapering off program and see where my body is.

Now on to something way more uplifting. My first grandchild is due March 11th. I am over the moon! I just want my back to get better so I can hold my grandbaby. You are right. That is my goal and motivation right now. Yes, I want a feel good back for my quality of life, but a future grandchild just takes it to a whole new level, if you get my drift.

Have sat here way too long. Time to move and stretch.

Hang in there, and keep me posted on how you are coming along.
__________________
CindyLou
bicycle accident 6/19/01
2 compression fractures sustained, T12, L1;
vertibroplasty @ above levels, 9/15/01
4/06 right hip labral tear repair
4/07 Lumbar ProDisc replacement by Dr. Bertagnoli, 3 levels; L3-6
7/2/08 ALIF and Laminectomy of L6-S1
7/30/08 Removed bone cement that leaked thru onto S1 nerve root.
8/7/08 Diagnosed with pulmonary embolism, double pneumonia, collapsed left lung, pleurisy, pleural effusion. Hospitalized 1 wk.
Wear bone growth stimulator 2 hrs per day.

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Old 04-05-2009, 07:45 AM
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Cindy,

A muscle stimulator is like a mobile TENs unit. You have pads on the front (stomach) and back and there are little shocks that block pain signals. Seems to block back pain but not sciatica.
I used one in PT so I could get through the exercises. Before, my PT wouldn't let me do some more aggessive exercises because I was getting back pain. So now I can turn that little sucker up and block the signals.
The goal here is to get my muscles in better shape, loose weight with more activity and in turn get a more stabilized back with the stronger muscles.

I spoke to the medical device company yesterday and my insurance does cover 80 percent of the cost (well, at least they cover this) but we are responsible for 20 percent which works out to something like 24 dollars per month. I have to rent the device but then can buy it after a year. The rep said the insurance co wouldn't pay for it if it was bought outright.
I reserve the right to return the device and stop payments at any time.
So that is okay.

Just more money out the door. Facing these huge medical bills is sad. We have already paid off a lot on co-pays and PT. I still haven't found out what we owe the hospital after we applied for financial assistance. Will probably know soon. We have a cat, Sunny, and she won't eat. We spent money at vet couple weeks ago trying to find out what was wrong. No conclusive answer and they wanted to admit her but we cannot afford it. It was diffiuclt telling my girls that there is nothing we can do and she is going to die. I am thinking of calling my insurance company and and telling her what my insurance company has put us through. I want them to feel as bad as we feel.

Wrong forum....back to back pain. Yes, it will give me peace of mind to find out what is going on. I was doing really good, just normal healing and then this. I thought my feet were a little less numb yesterday and then at night, I was feeling the sciatica as I was laying on the couch. This drives me crazy because there is not one consistent symptom, the numbness is here and there and then sometimes there is burning feeling and the sharp pins and needles and it is not like a muscle injury where you can point to one area and say that hurts.

The muscle stimmulator needs a prescription. My PT sent a prescription to my doc and my doc signed it and then it was sent off to the company.

My PT watches me like a hawk too. Making sure about keeping a pelvic tilt, doing exercises correctly and so on. I really believe PT helps, especially with the tight muscles.

I have a question, after ADR, can nerve compession only be seen with a spinal myleogram? Last time my doc said MRI would have artifact, which I already knew, but did not mention myleogram.

Cindy, you have some time before grandchild arrives and they usually weigh under 10 pounds so hopefully you will be able to lift him/her and eventually be able to lift more. I didn't even ask what lifting restriction I have currently. I don't usually lift more than 10-20 pounds and try not to lift at all.

Congrats on starting PT.

I agree with you about the drugs. I am off the pain meds, except for over-the-counter, and would like to get off this Gabapentin but can't right now. I asked to get back on it because I couldn't stand the sciatica. I hate the swelling from the Gabapentin.

Got to go get an Times now to get thrid part of insurance story. Keep up the good work. 20 minutes on a treadmill is more than zero. I feel like you, maybe, I breathe harder than I should and my resting pulse rate is far from what I had a while ago. Just been through the ringer and trying to recover my cardiovascular condition.


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Old 04-05-2009, 07:47 AM
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re: mylogram

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi,
I had a CT mylogram about 4-5 months after my ADR surgery because of some serious back pain. The Dr. was able to find the cause but the procedure set my nerves off and I needed to take a medrol pack (cortisone) after that to settle things down. You know that since the second decompression surgery I have some serious sciatica and tingling in both legs plus sacral back pain through the roof at times. My Dr.'s. PA just ordered an MRI with contrast to look at the area. The articles I have read on failed back surgery and arachnoiditis talks about nerve scarring and clumping caused by too many procedures. Of course this info just scares me to death so BE CAREFUL is really what I wanted to say. MRI's are not invasive and they can still see a lot of the area. I do not know much about facet problems and am going to look that up also. I do more bending than I should and since I had that lower L5-S1 done I am concerned about over-bending that area. I hope that you continue to heal but also try not to overdo the exercise in case that is causing your sciatica.
Phylly
__________________
Cervical fusion C4-C6 2002
Fall on tailbone April 2005
Discogram positive at L4-S1 2007
Prodisc ADR surgery L4-L5-S1 November 2007 Dr. Delamarter
Decompression surgery L4-S1 for left sided sciatica July 2008
Continued back pain, looking at possible fusion
Removal of Prodiscs and L4-S1 fusion February 2009

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:49 AM
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Thanks Phylly for the info. And thanks tconner94 for the tip.

Phylly, I probably react like you do to the procedures. With the epidurals, I got more inflammation at first and then it calmed down. They didn't help that much and then the facet joint injections were worse and definitely didn't help at all. I hurt for days after each of those and then the discogram, pushed everything off the charts.

I know that too many procedures are not good for the body. I could probably live with sciatica but I'm taking 1500 mg of Gabapentin daily and still feeling the sciatica. Exercise does increase the symptoms but then they go back to kind of a baseline. I know my nerves are already inflamed, exercise or not. And I don't believe the answer is to exercise less (although when this started, I reduced my walks to a distance of one mile). Exercise helps strengthen my back and core muscles which in turn helps stabilize the spine.

I have had these symptoms for 7 weeks now and they are not really abating. Although they might change and move around. Because of my health care background, I know that certain nerves are getting compressed. It is really obvious. I went to my podiatrist, who is like the best podiatrist around and I have been going to him since I was in college running, and told him my current symptoms. He poked around and found a spot near my ankle which is really tender on my right foot. The nerve goes right there and then wraps under my heel. So i got a cortisone shot there and the plantar fascia symptoms calmed down for a few days. I had plantar fascitis before and since I have had bad back pain,the pain from it has just been nerve-related. So instead of the normal plantar fascitis, my heel hurts when i am sitting and not when standing. I had the same symptoms before my surgery and a little bit afterwards. At that time, we figured it was not the normal plantar fascitis when my symptoms increased when i wasn't doing any exercise.

Maybe too technical.

I get conflicting opinions about what procedure can actually show the nerves after ADR. I was told MRI with contrast will still have artifact in it from the disc. I also saw where a CT with contrast might work. I am jumping the gun, but if I do get an earlier appointment with my doc I want to be informed. I know he told me that an MRI would have too much artifact to show anything.
You know my doc and believe me, he is very conservative. I don't think he would do a test if he thought it would cause a lot of harm.

I always go with the conservative docs because I believe in conservative treatment. Too many times, I have seen things go wrong with an overzealous doc. I picked my doctor, who has not done as many ADRs as others, because of his skill and I trust him. I could have made an appt with a more well-known ADR doc, but I don't care if they have done 500 ADRs. I once made the mistake of having arthroscopic surgery with a top orthopedic knee doc and I regreted that. Because that doc, did not take as good care of me as maybe a less well-known doc would. And I worked for this doc, but this was before I went into the health field and could sniff out the really good docs.

I just want some answers because I am really not getting any better and i want to know why.

A lot of times, I don't show pain too well. Meaning, I hide it well and so if I don't complain loudly, no one listens to me. That is the way I am. I have always felt I have a high pain threshold and when I was running track in college and afterwards, I got used to hiding pain. This happened in the hospital right after my back surgery. I got up with PT and we are walking the hallway with the walker and he says, "You must not be in much pain, is your level 5-6?" And I laughed, and said, "More like 9 out of 10." I was really hurting and he couldn't tell.

So this is what is happening now; I really need to yell a little louder.

So last time I see my doc, he says I can go up on the Gabapentin because I was taking a "low" dose of 900 mg a day but he warns me about dizziness and I told him I haven't gotten dizzy from Gabapentin but he says I could. So I slowly went up on the Gabapentin to the current dose. I could go up to one more tab, but I honestly don't think I could remember to take a pill six times a day. LOL. Doesn't make me dizzy, just makes me want to eat and makes me sleepy.

Currently, I am real pissed off because I feel a whole lot better except for the right-sided back pain and the sciatica stuff. I feel like I didn't go through this surgery ordeal to have this happen now.

Phylly, yes, you could have done more harm having the decompression surgery, but it is a done deal and you cannot really beat yourself up about it. Pain and numbness are not normal physiological reactions; they are the body's way of telling you that something is wrong. You need to find out what is wrong so you can get better. MRIs are a piece of cake. The only way they are harmful is if there is metal around. Please keep me informed on how it goes. One thing I found out from all the back research I did, the back is incrediblly complicated and we need to tread lightly when we are fooling with it.

Hang in there.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:52 AM
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Default 10-24-2008

10-24-2008, 02:28 PM
tconner94

MRI vs. CT
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I will try to offer a little info on your questions about imaging studies after ADR. MRI artifact at the level of surgery will prevent that level from being evaluated. If IV MRI contrast is given, it won't help visualization of the surgical level. MRI with contrast can be used to assess for nerve root irritation/inflammation away from the hardware, and it can be used to check for complications of the surgery such as infection. Also, the other levels can be assessed with MRI either without or with IV contrast.

I used the term "IV contrast" deliberately. CT of the lumbar spine is usually done without IV contrast. The ADR will cause a different type of artifact on the CT that will also affect the evaluation, but it is easier to compensate for this when viewing the CT. However, CT is not that good at evaluating disks, nerve roots, etc. I believe that you are referring to CT myelography. That procedure involves a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) where 10-20 cc's of contrast are injected directly into the spinal canal. A few regular X-rays are usually taken, and then a CT is done soon after to evaluate nerve roots, spinal narrowing, etc.

In general, it is difficult to predict in advance which test may help. MRI with IV contrast is quicker and safer, but it may or may not help. CT myelography may help, but it's more involved, a little riskier, and there's still a chance it won't show the ADR level due to artifacts from the metal.

Hope this helps.
__________________
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L5-S1 rupture 11/04, left leg pain for 2 wks.
Regular exercise/pain-free until 2007
L5-S1 degen. disease w/constant pain since 6/07
PT, ESI, SI jt injections, 3-level nerve root inj. x 2
L5-S1 Charite Jan. 19th, no back pain so far
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:53 AM
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Default 10-24-2008

There you go. Glad TConnor94 had some answers, as I did not know intimately the different procedures like he/she did. Very helpful. I would ask the doctor, when you go in, based on all the different and unique symptoms you are experiencing right now, which diagnostic tool could we extract the most information from, and hopefully, with the least aftermath of potential problems. Good luck runner. I do hope you get to the bottom of your symptoms and get the answers you need. Hang in there!
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bicycle accident 6/19/01
2 compression fractures sustained, T12, L1;
vertibroplasty @ above levels, 9/15/01
4/06 right hip labral tear repair
4/07 Lumbar ProDisc replacement by Dr. Bertagnoli, 3 levels; L3-6
7/2/08 ALIF and Laminectomy of L6-S1
7/30/08 Removed bone cement that leaked thru onto S1 nerve root.
8/7/08 Diagnosed with pulmonary embolism, double pneumonia, collapsed left lung, pleurisy, pleural effusion. Hospitalized 1 wk.
Wear bone growth stimulator 2 hrs per day.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:00 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:54 AM
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Default 10-25-2008

Thanks TConnor94 and Cindy,

Explains things clearly.
My PT wants me to get trigger point injections. He said today that my sciatica could be from tight muscles.
I feel that my muscles are actually getting looser as they hurt less when they are massaged out in PT.
He said I should demand trigger point injections from my doctor--I thought that was pretty funny. I can still laugh even when my feet and legs are falling alsleep half the time.

About the TENS machine, he said that ones on line are a lot cheaper. So instead of renting one for $24 a month, I can buy one from 50 to 100 dollars. Sounds like that's okay.
I'm going to check on it since saving money is uber important for me now.
On a side note, got my OBAMA bumper sticker today. Also got one that said, "Soccer Mom for Obama".
It just took me a while to find where the democratic headquarters was down here. Once my daughter explained where it was located, I found it. Got my Obama/Biden lawn sign too.

Watching 20/20 now..got to go.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:56 AM
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Default 10-29-2008

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Update:

Getting closer to Halloween.
Had a lot of numbness and tingling in my legs and feet today.
Don't know if it is partly due to my activities yesteday. I had a 15 minute freebie massage and the massager pressed hard on my lower vertebrae and I kind of decided right then and there that I could skip the massage in the future. Ouch.
She told me she could work out my trigger spots in three one-hour sessions. I think she would be a miracle worker because i had massages before my current back problem and that person took several sessions to work out the kinks and they were never quite worked out. Now I know why, because my L4/5 vertebra was deteriorating. There was no stopping that. The bases were loaded with no outs and Hank Aaron was at the plate.

Anyhows, I get to have an MRI on Halloween. Won't show L4/5 but will show other discs. They need to make discs so you can see your whole back on an MRI. Oh, well. I get new x-rays too. I will be positively glowing on Halloween. LOL.

Doctor spoke about switching from Gabapentin to Lyrica. Not yet though.

My son's coach had a knee replacement about same time as my surgery and he has carpal tunnel problems in both hands and he was talking about having to go back to doctor because his hands were swollen and he said once you get in the medical system it is like prison--they won't let you out.

I feel a little like that. I keep comparing my life before excruciating back pain to my life now. Things can really change on a dime.
I miss my old life.
Just as I was getting back to some semblance of normal, it was snatched away from me. Hopefully it is a minor bump in the road, but I don't know. Just having sciatica and numbness which is 10 x's worse than last time makes me wonder.

Won't have to wonder very much longer though.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:04 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 07:59 AM
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Default 10-30-2008

10-30-2008, 12:18 PM
rhatzy
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi,

Just finished reading all your posts. I had L4-5 and L3-4 done with the maverick discs back in January 08. My recovery was pure hell with all the ups and downs of a roller coaster. I was on percocet, the gaba (however you spell it), did the PT stuff and everything. I had the financial worries, as I am the sole provider, and depression like you wouldn't believe. I thought my life at 50 was over. However, I am ready now to go back to work. I am an airline captain for American Airlines and I am off all meds and was cleared by the FAA to return. I have just finished recurrent training and my first trip is November 4. I am so excited.

My family doc was great. He thought that I have made all the right decisions. He said that PT was going to make it seem worse because they were going to involve the muscles that i didn't use much and the ones that had atrophied and that to take the pain meds to cover the pain of the PT.

I have had the MRI's and the myelograms, both which were useless in determing any problems at the implant levels, so my suggestion is forget the myelogram, it wasn't fun. There is a guy in Dayton, Ohio that uses a very tiny endoscope to insert into your spinal canal thru a natural opening at the base of your spine. It's just at the top of the crack in your butt. With this, he can check out your whole lumbar region and if he finds any tears or bulges or scar tissue, he can fix them them, He found that I had some annular tears at L5-S1 and lased them. At my L4-5, where I had a discectomy done in 1996, He found major scar tissue. He removed as much as he could and freed up a nerve in the foramina and that's about it. After that procedure, most of what pain I had was gone. I only had a quarter inch incision and except for that I didn't know I had anything done. I am a little worried tho that that level might be needing some help in a few years.

I have talked with a nurse down in Georgia or somewhere that also does a lot of lifting. I think she had a two level done and she is back to work and doing the lifting with no problem. A guy in my group who is a body builder, weight lifter and trainer had a two level done. He is back to work and the last I heard from, he was squatting 315 pounds with no problem. that makes me wince. Don't think I'd be doing that. He said that he really never did the core excercises until after the surgery and now does them religiously.

I found that the gab and percocet made me feel even worse. I had been off the gab for awhile and then finally, the percocet. I was down to just 10 milligrams of Vicodn when I just quit. For about 4 to 5 hours a day for 4 days, I had stomach cramps and headaches but it just finally went away and I felt a lot better. I think it also contributed a lot to my depression.

Anyways, that is a short bio of my story. I hope you finally get your life back. I know how tough it is and was really tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As for insurance, that's another story. American is self funded and administered by United Health. Tried to explain to them that fusion, which they would pay for would have cost them about $100,000 and I know I would never had returned to work. Plus American would have to pay me disibility until I retired and now be paying two pilots to do the work of one. They don't get it. Now that I am back to work, maybe they will see it differently. If not, then I will have a nice deduction on my taxes.

Anyway, I hope that things will get better for you and that life will be good again.

Mark

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:08 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:02 AM
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Default 10-31-2008

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thanks Rhatzy (Mark),

Going to get my MRI today. I hope it doesn't show anything bad. But if it does, I will deal with it.
Happy to see you are going back to work. I have thought long and hard about work and have asked some of my co-workers what they thought. It is easy to say that you can go back to the same kind of work and then I wonder what further damage I would do to my body. I mean maybe I could do the work, but I would probably not be doing what is best for my spine.

Nurses know you need to protect your back, but even the best lifting techniques don't matter when you have an emergency and you have to hold a patient down or a patient is trying to hurt him/herself. I always thought that I might be doing myself harm but thought it would hit me later in my career. I was kind of naive about the damage I was doing, because I thought it was sore/tight muscles and not a disc tearing.

I am still a nurse but I have to find a less labor-intensive job and I kind of know the path I want to take. Right now, I am concentrating on getting better and worrying less about the resume. I am disappointed because I am used to pushing my body to its limits and i cannot do that. My heart rate is like above 100. I did have a resting heart rate in the 50's. I don't know if it is pain or the extra weight I have gained or what.

I don't like the Gabapentin (Neurotin) because of the swelling it causes and the kind of med it is, but when I had sciatica I absolutely couldn't stand, I asked to go back on it. I was also given permission from my doctor to take a mild pain killer if I needed it. Sometimes Tylenol and Aleve are not enough.

I am busy and feel like I am working with four kids to take care of and a house to kind of clean and laundry and writing and fighting insurance companies and PT and working out outside of PT. Then throw in a couple of doctor appointments. Tomorrow, is Halloween and I am trying to figure out how to fit everything in. Feeling a little rushed because there is trick and treating and then there is the high school homecoming football game. My daughter is performing in the senior skits. My husband is going to try to get home early but typically he works until after 7 pm so I have a lot of children stuff to do before he gets home.

I felt pretty good today, sciatica and numbness way, but I did not do very much physically today. So we will see about tomorrow.

You had your surgery two months before me. I think I would be doing a lot better if I had had my surgery on my first surgery date instead of waiting for insurance to be there. Waiting four months for surgery was a bit much.

My advice for anyone trying to get the insurance company to pay for the surgery is fight tooth and nail because there are ways to win and the insurance companies don't care about you and you have to intellectually try everything to get them to reconsider. I am glad I did not get the fusion my insurance would have enthusiastically paid for. I will continue to fight them and I believe whole-heartedly that they are terribly wrong.

Just today they denied my prescription for Gabapentin that is an increased dosage. They are bean counters and don't understand that if you go cold-turkey off Gabapentin you risk seizures. Just one more battle to fight...

The more we stand up for what is right and demand service from insurance companies and demand that our doctors do what is right and that we are better informed, the better off we will be.

Have a nice flight.


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Old 04-05-2009, 08:03 AM
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------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As I sit here today, reading from my fellow spineys, I am thinking about how nice it will be to start our country in a different direction after next Tuesday's election. I am hoping that we start down the path where people matter again. The current regime has proven, in so many ways, that we don't count. They cling on to the; "right to life" mantra but do little to protect it once it pops out of the womb. Then the mantra becomes; "protect the shareholders."

Profit above all.

Remember to vote next Tuesday. Vote once, vote often.

Terry Newton
__________________
1980 ruptured L4-L5
1988 ruptured SI-L5
1990 ruptured C5-C6
1994 ruptured C6-C7
1995 Hemi-Laminectomy C5-C6, C6-C7 Mayo Clinic
Bicycle Accident 2004
MRI, EMG, Facet Injections, Epidural Blocks, Lumbar Discogram.
Stenum Hospital Surgery November 4, 2006
Prestige Disc C5-C6, C6-C7
Maverick Disc S1-L5, L4-L5
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:04 AM
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Default 11-2-2008

Positively Glowing

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Had MRI on Halloween.
It was different than my last MRI over a year ago. Yesterday, it must have been a closed MRI and you went in head first and it was a tight fit.
The bummer was that there was no music available. Forty minutes or more in a tight tube, not exactly for the clausaphobic.

Got MRI without contrast and then was surprised to learn, part of it was with contrast.
So that is the reason for my title. Then it was off for x-rays. Two hour ordeal but it was okay.

Got the MRI on CD but have not looked at it, since I would tend to self-diagnose myself and worry about it.

Managed to get in Halloween, ended up dragging my two young boys (fireman and pirate, Jack Sparrow) around to a few houses, went to high school half-time to watch Homecoming show and my daughter.
Got back home to find husband and eight year old absent.
Found them at a neighbor and stayed up a few more hours.
A lot of people in our area were at the game.
My girls' high school, won 57-14. Fun. But not for the other team.
Oh, and someone TP'd our house.
Did a good job. It was hillarious.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:08 AM
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Default 11-4-2008

Rainy day
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Phylly,

I found out some more stuff about the myleogram that I didn't know about. I have been surfing the internet last few days.
Anyway, saw where some doc said that the dye they inject in your spine can stick to your ADR (I think it was on here on adrsupport or a link, I was just surfing around and investigating sciatica).
Now that doesn't sound so good.
I hope you are feeling better. Are you getting some answers from your doc?
I felt so much better when I saw my doc last week and he was very understanding and listened to me.
It should always be like that.

It is a rainy day here. Probably for you too.
My back is hurting more today and I wonder if it is the rain or the PT workout yesterday. The sciatica (primarily right leg) is hurting too. I am up to 1800 mg of Gabapentin a day and it helps. I am just really tired (side effect).

I was standing at the voting booth today and trying to make final decisions on all the propositions and my left foot and lower leg were falling asleep.
The past week it has been my left foot and leg that are more tingling than right. It switched around, which makes me think something is floating around.
Who knows. Hopefully, the MRI will show something that explains the symptoms.

This all could be part of the healing process but I kind of have doubts about that. I am sitting on my couch and have tingling feet, calves, front of lower legs and some burning in right leg and right thigh.
I can just say I am tingling all over..ha ha ha.

have a good day.


_______________

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:15 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:09 AM
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Default 11-5-2008

Myelogram contrast
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just a quick hopefully helpful correction. The contrast injected for myelography cannot affect the ADR hardware. It is a water-soluble agent that is directly injected into the spinal canal (thecal sac). Unless there has been penetrating trauma causing a tear in the dura, the contrast remains within the dura and is gradually absorbed by the vascular system and excreted by the kidneys. Of course, the myelogram itself does cause a small penetration posteriorly, and there usually is a small amount of contrast leaking along the needle tract which can be seen on the CT done after the myelogram.

The contrast used is for all practical purposes the same agent injected intravenously for CT's of multiple other body parts (chest, abdomen, coronary CT's, etc.) It is also injected during a discogram to confirm that the needle is within the disc. It is gradually absorbed from here, as well.

If someone were to have an injury resulting in an unhealed tear of the dura, they would have possibly multiple other symptoms, spinal headaches being the most common. However, the leak would have to also extend through a ligament in front of the spinal canal and in back of the vertebrae in order to reach the ADR hardware (the posterior longitudinal ligament, not the anterior longitudinal ligament-which is opened for the ADR insertion).

Even then, the contrast agent would simply be gradually absorbed. It would be no more toxic or damaging in this location than it would be when injected into all of the various places it is normally used for other studies. It would essentially be the same as if saline were injected around the ADR hardware.

OK, maybe it wasn't a "quick" correction, but hopefully it was "helpful."
__________________
------------------------------------------------------
L5-S1 rupture 11/04, left leg pain for 2 wks.
Regular exercise/pain-free until 2007
L5-S1 degen. disease w/constant pain since 6/07
PT, ESI, SI jt injections, 3-level nerve root inj. x 2
L5-S1 Charite Jan. 19th, no back pain so far
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:11 AM
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Default 11-5-2008

So glad your doc is nice

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Runner,
I saw my Dr. on Mon. to go over all my weird MRI's. He was not so understanding and wanted me to clear up all the strange suggestions before he looked at me. (keep going to more docs) Not so much understanding. I really wanted more warm and fuzzy. I am so sorry for your sciatica and tingling, it can be a real drag. I tried to ask about facet problems and other issues but really went no where. I cried, that didn't work either. I am afraid that someday I may have to be fused. I have not given up but it is late and just read your post. I will write when I am not so tired. Keep searching for the answers we have to be our own advocates. Pain just wears you down. I am taking 3600 mgm of nuerontin. Pretty maxed out and when it wears off i know it. Does your doctor have any answers? Will he do more testing? Keep in touch. Thanks for the info on the mylograms.
Phylly
__________________
Cervical fusion C4-C6 2002
Fall on tailbone April 2005
Discogram positive at L4-S1 2007
Prodisc ADR surgery L4-L5-S1 November 2007 Dr. Delamarter
Decompression surgery L4-S1 for left sided sciatica July 2008
Continued back pain, looking at possible fusion
Removal of Prodiscs and L4-S1 fusion February 2009

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:31 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:13 AM
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Default 11-12-2008

taken me a while to answer you
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Phylly,

I feel for you. It is tough going to the docs and firing questions at them. A good doc should answer your questions as long as you don't try to ask 200 ones in one appointment. I usually jot down about five questions, but a couple of appointments ago, I didn't and I should have.

Then two weeks later, i ended going back and saying that's not right. This is how i feel and so forth.

Your doctor should listen to you as you are the one experiencing pain as long as you make it clear to him what is going on.

What was strange about your suggestions?
And how are your MRIs weird? Sounds kind of funny...sorry.
Re the myleongram see TConnors post. I have to check where I read about the leaking fluid.

My doc was very understanding when i saw him last. I got the MRI and i had an appointment on Friday, but he has to do a surgery that day because he was out sick last week. So I have to wait a little longer for the results., but will see him next week.

Nothing much has changed. I still have sciatica and I can feel the Gabapentin wear off. I don't know how you can take that much Gab, that is twice as much as I take. How do you stay awake? The problem is I am getting so sleepy taking the Gabapentin.
It really helps with the nerve pain. I seem to have less thigh pain so that is good. I can't really tell how bad it is because it is masked by the Gabapentin. I still have some pain creep in like the plantar fascia pain which usually comes out of the blue while I am sitting on the couch and such.

I have days where it is better and the next day, might be awful. I am mainly taking the Gabapentin, aleve and tylenol for pain. If I really hurt bad i can take a narcotic but I haven't had to do that much since I increased the Gab.

I have read up again on sciatica and it all seems like the major cause is a disc herniation. I can't get around that but I am prone to some wishful thinking. I don't like the prospect of future treatment.

Are your sciatica (radiculopathy) symptoms similar? Are they getting worse or staying the same? I have for the most part, very low level back pain. It can get worse but it gets better too.

I think I sent you a PM a while back. I know if you are like me, you forget to check your PMs. It has been showing that you haven't opened it. I can't even remember what I wrote.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:15 AM
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Default 11-20-2008

No answers

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, folks, I got back my MRI and back x-rays and they don't show much about why I have sciatica/numbness/radiuclopathy in my legs and feet.

Talk about frustrating. It is good I don't have full-blown herniated disc problems but my doctor does not know why I have the sciatica/ et al. He said I could have problems from the disc moving more and could have irritated something.

Here is my MRI Result (For those of you astute about interpreting MRIs):

MRI Lumbar W/Without Contrast

IMPRESSION:
1. SURGICAL CHANGES WITH AN ARTIFICIAL DISC AT L4/L5. LIMITED EVALUATION
OF THE L4 and L5 VERTEBRAE AND LUMBAR SPINAL CANAL DUE TO METALLIC
ARTIFACT. EVALUATION OF THE NEURAL FORAMINA ARE THIS LEVEL IS ALSO
LIMITED. GIVEN THIS LIMITATION, NO CENTRAL CANAL STENOSIS THROUGHOUT THE LUMBAR SPINE IS DEMONSTRATED.
2. THERE IS ONLY MINIMAL TO MILD NEURAL FORAMEN NARROWING. NO SIGNIFICANT NEURAL FORAMEN NARROWING IS DEMONSTRATED.
3. MULTILEVEL HYPERTROPHIC CHANGES OF THE FACETS/LIGAMENTUM FLAVUM AS DESCRIBED BELOW.

TECHNIQUE:
Multiplanar, multisequence MRI was performed with and without contrast.

FINDINGS:
Comparison: Prior radiograph of the lumbar spine 09/15/2008.

An artificial disc prosthesis is again noted at L4/L5. There is normal alignment of the lumbar vertebrae. There is normal termination of the cord with the conus at the level of L1.

There is no evidence of bone marrow edema.

At L1/L2, there is only minimal bulging of the posterior disc without central canal stenosis or neural foramen narrowing.

At L2/L3, there is only minimal bulging of the posterior aspect of the annulus without central canal stenosis or neural foramen narrowing.

At L3/L4, there are mild hypertrophic changes of the ligamentum flavum. There is minimal bulging of the posterior aspect of the disc without evidence of central canal stenosis. There is minimal neural foramen narrowing bilaterally.

At L4/L5, there are hypertrophic changes of the facets and ligamentum flavum. Evaluation of the thecal sac and cauda equina is limited due to metallic artifact. No definite spinal canal stenosis is appreciated. No significant neural foramen narrowing is demonstrated although there is metallic artifact overlying the neural foramina bilaterally as well.

At L5/S1, there are hypertrophic changes of the facets. There is only minimal bulging of the posterior aspect of the disc without evidence of central canal stenosis. There is minimal neural foramen narrowing bilaterally. Multiple suspected follicles are partially visualized in the region of the right adnexa on image 9 of series 4. Postcontrast images demonstrate no areas of abnormal enhancement to suggest epidural fibrosis. However, again evaluation of the L4/L5 region is limited due to metallic artifact.

The x-ray wasn't too much help, either.

HISTORY: Status post fusion and lumbar disectomy.

IMPRESSION:
1. STABLE APPEARANCE OF THE LOWER LUMBAR SPINE WITH AN ARTIFICIAL DISC AT L4/L5 AND MILD DEGENERATIVE CHANGES OF THE LUMBAR SPINE WITH HYPERTROPHIC CHANGES OF THE FACETS.
2. NO EVIDENCE OF MALALIGNMENT ON NEUTRAL, FLEXION, OR EXTENSION VIEWS.

FINDINGS (LUMBAR SPINE, FIVE VIEWS):
Comparison: Prior radiograph lumbar spine dated 09/15/2008.

An artificial disc is again noted at L4/L5. There are surgical clips adjacent to the lower lumbar spine and upper sacrum. There are mild degenerative changes of the lumbar spine with small anterior spurs. On flexion and extension and neutral views, no significant malalignment is demonstrated. There are hypertrophic changes of the facets of the lower lumbar spine.

That's it.
I stay on the Gabapentin and go back in six weeks.


_______________

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:16 AM
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Default 11-20-2008

facets

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Runner,
What does your doctor think about the L5-S1 facets? Could they be causing some issues although I did not think they cause sciatica? It is difficult to read these tests when the ADR's block out good viewing of the area. I hope that your sciatica decreases soon.
Phylly
__________________
Cervical fusion C4-C6 2002
Fall on tailbone April 2005
Discogram positive at L4-S1 2007
Prodisc ADR surgery L4-L5-S1 November 2007 Dr. Delamarter
Decompression surgery L4-S1 for left sided sciatica July 2008
Continued back pain, looking at possible fusion
Removal of Prodiscs and L4-S1 fusion February 2009

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:41 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:18 AM
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Thanks Phylly,

I hope so too, but it has been 10 weeks.
This morning with the walk I again had my left foot falling asleep.
I'm tired of this stuff.


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Old 04-05-2009, 08:19 AM
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Default 11-22-2008

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anybody else, able to throw their hat into the ring and help me figure out what is wrong?
Suggestions?

Essentially, fairly normal MRI but got bad sciatica and numbness.
I am sitting right now and numbness on both my feet, the toes are numb and tingling and the calves are somewhat numb. I haven't been sitting very long.
This numbness comes and goes and sometimes worse, other times just noticable.
It ranges from toes to back of right hamstring.

Eleven weeks this has been going on.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:21 AM
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Default 11-22-2008

Have they considered that perhaps L5-S1 disc is going bad? I haven't read back far enough to know if they have done discogram recently to try and explain the sciatic pain. That is what I have, and the blame all goes to my L5-S1 disc. I have pain (but no numbness) that rockets down my hamstring, though usually stops at my knee, occ ventures more distally. How about facet blocks to make sure they are not the problem? Piriformis syndrome? I'm just ticking off all the things I have run across in this odyssey....

Susan/ERvet
__________________
5yr hx of r-sided radicular pain
5yr of chiro, massage, ESI, SI jt injx, PT
2006 L4-5-S1 hemi, no relief
2007-RF @L5-S123, 2mo relief
2008-disco pos @L5-S1, +/-L4-5
Waiting as long as poss for ADR, considering biacuplasty
Don't even ask about the other ortho sx!

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:22 AM
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Default 11-22-2008

Chasswen,

I had distraction pains after surgery and they lasted a while. Sometime after surgery, I had some minimal numbness in my feet and not much back pain. Then something seemed to happen and two weeks later I had the sciatica I have now and a whole lot of numbness.
The sciatica feels like little knives in my hamstring. I will get plantar fascia problems out of the blue that come and go. My foot doctor says my L4 nerve which runs under my foot is irritated. I can feel the irritation from my ankle up my shin.
I do think I might have facet aches given my backache.

I don't know, a month or so ago, it was my right foot falling almost completely asleep now it is my left foot and some numbness in my right foot. The hamstring pain is primarily on the right.
l'm just tingly all over.

I wasn't bone to bone before surgery but I had shrunk about an inch. In October at the discogram, my disc height I think was still pretty good, but on the other hand, I did feel like I was getting worse from that point on. And my doctor did make me sign a consent for fusion. Luckily, I didn't have fusion.

Just one more road block on the road to health.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:24 AM
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Default 11-23-2008

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ERvet,

Since my doc thinks everything is hunky dory, no haven't explored L5/S1 but my MRI is kind of fine at that level. Plus I think the MRI might have shown up an annular tear if there was one. My back pain is nowhere near it was before my surgery.

I'm still dealing with the weight gain, the out of workout shape and whatever comes along.
Oh, yeah, plus the huge stomach I have.

Doing okay for all this. I just want to get off the Gabapentin, but not now.

Thanks for the suggestions,

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:25 AM
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Default 11-23-2008

Oh wow, Runner. That's exactly what I have, the numbness down the back of legs to the feet, particularly exacerbated when I walk.
All they can find are nothing little bulges and an annular tear at L5/S1.

Let's keep each other posted!

Adrienne
__________________
Minimal DDD L4/L5
Minimal DDD L5/S1
Disco 4/07 : Large tear: @L5/S1
Idet 4/08 No improvement
Now looking at ADR vs. Fusion
ALIF Fusion 2/10 Stanford

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:26 AM
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Default 11-23-2008

LBP

numbness issues

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well beore surgery I had numbness in my heels. And some pain behind my ankles which was a offshoot nerve from the sural nerve that goes behind back outside ankle and down behind and under out foot. I took Gabpentine and that helped. Just one a day.

I had surgery for annular tears at l4/5 and l5/s1.

Post surgery I had unbearable pain and numbness in my left big toe. That resolved for the most part but once in awhile I get a shoot pain in the left big toe during PT or after massage. Since I've been sitting more, I have a constant numbness in my left quad. If I stand in one place for more than 15-20 minutes my enitre left leg goes numb like it's fallen asleep.

Now, I've taken more than a week off of work to calm things down, with tons of PT, and outside massage.

Just yesterday, I was sitting on the exercise ball to pay a few bills and wrote one short postcard to my niece and both my feet feel asleep!

I don't necessarily think that you have new l5/s1 problems, Maybe you are overdoing things like me and our nerves and muscles are not healed yet.

None of my MRIs showed tears...at least according to all those early treaters. It was only after a discogram with MRI taken immediately after discogram...could see fuild from diskogram flowing out of my discs. Even my last MRI taken by my reg treater in WI before going to 2 level prodisc surgery in CA, the lab report made it seem like I was healthy HA!
__________________
Injured 9/01
Annular tears L4/5 & L5/S1
denied adr by insurance for 2 level charite as well as hybrid fusion at L5/S1 with Charite at L4/5.

New ins paid for 2 level lumbar prodisc surgery on 4/7/08 (at age 39) with Dr. Westerlund, at Core Orthop
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:28 AM
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Default 11-25-2008

Sounds similar

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Adrienne and LBP,

Some of these things sound familiar.
My left leg fell asleep when I was voting. My feet go numb after the elyptical trainer, when I am sitting on our couch, when i put my feet up to ice my back in PT, when I walk, when I sit at our kitchen table.
Today, it was the left foot, the lateral (outer) part of my shin, less numbness in my right foot, some numbness on the anterior (inner) part of my shin.
I don't mind my left foot numbness because I can drive with minimal numbness in my right foot.

My PT thinks something is impinging on a nerve. I think so too, but who knows.
I have decided to increase my activity since some of the symptoms seem to be better and my MRI and x-rays don't show anything.

I really need to loose the weight I have gained and weight loss in turn will help my back. I figure if things don't get drastically worse, the extra exercise won't bother me. I have numbness whether I do things or not. The back pain is manageable and not too bad.
I see the doc in six weeks, so we will see.

I see my foot doc next week and will show him the MRIs and x-rays. I think going back on Celebrex will help as an antinflammatory. The aleve is not as good I believe.

I think if I had an annular tear it would have been picked up since I had the MRI with and without contrast.
Been sitting too long, 10 minutes.
So talk to you later.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:29 AM
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Hmmmm....same with me. My MRI's show almost nothing but the S1 dermatome is numb, particularly when I walk.

I wonder if we should collaborate? In fact I think that about this entire board. Here we are, most of us in intractable back pain for years on end. There might be some unifying thread. Who knows?

BTW, celebrex works well. The chances of having a CVA are next to nothing and you have to figure and the increased activity more than makes up for the small risk.
__________________
Minimal DDD L4/L5
Minimal DDD L5/S1
Disco 4/07 : Large tear: @L5/S1
Idet 4/08 No improvement
Now looking at ADR vs. Fusion
ALIF Fusion 2/10 Stanford
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:31 AM
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Default 11-25-2008

sounds good
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Adrienne,

I have got to love the stuff I read about Degenerative Disc Disease. Often I wonder if I am normal to have DDD or not. Or is it DJD (Degenerative Joint Disease)?
I was reading an explanation of DDD on some other internet site and the doctor was saying that the pain usually isn't so bad and that you can usually get over it and everyone has DDD, blah, blah.
I was thinking what a joke on me to have DDD and need a new disc. It is those painful annular tears that do us in.

You are preop so your symptoms seem just about right (correct?).
Before the surgery, I had numbness in my lower legs and my right thigh and mild sciatica but excruciating back pain. Now, I have kind of switched.

Nevertheless, I would take ADR over fusion any day. I'm so glad my ADR is functioning well and is placed well. Now I just have to regain my fitness that I lost waiting for surgery. I just have to stay awake as the Gabapentin makes me so darn sleepy. Not getting a whole lot done around the house.
Hopefully this is a temporary state and not permanent.

Regarding this site, there are different people on here. Some have neck pain, others back, some are not feeling so well, others just occasionally bothered. It varies. So there are a lot of different threads. Some of us share things in common, others don't.

I think you have a fear after surgery that you are going to blow another disc or move your ADR out of place. This is especially when you talk to doctors who tell you that ADRs are unproven, even dangerous. I think I have gotten over the fear of the plastic part of the disc shooting out of my vertebrae and cutting my aorta.
The thought of that was almost a deal breaker for me but doing more research on discs helped me understand that is not a common occurrence, and happened maybe once, a long time ago.

The doctors who are against ADR can really scare you.
I am still worried about blowing another disc since I have bulges at each disc (except my bionic one) now. Then I read that most people in their uh--um 40's have bulges and they are not symptomatic.

My surgeon didn't want me taking Celebrex because of the cardiac risk but my cardiologist (I was having chest pains preop) said it was okay. I think it will help and at this point, when my disc already has grown in bone, won't hinder things.

I do get frustrated with the current state of things but I am encouraged that it seems temporary. I don't like the drugs, but need them. By the six month mark, I had weaned myself off narcotics, the Gabapentin and was just taking the muscle relaxer and tylenol and ibuphrofen.

I figure if there is really a ticked off nerve (root) that is being pressured, it will be found. On the other hand, if this is just my ADR's "growing pains", eventually things will get better on their own.

Tuning in here, helps us sort things out.
Have you scheduled a surgery yet?
We will be here, of course, to help you out when you need it.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:33 AM
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Default 11-25-2008

Runner,
I just wanted to drop you a line. Hopefully, the nerve issues will calm down as your recovery advances--I was still seeing improvement 1.5 years after surgery and was subsequently pain-free for 4.5 yrs.

Have a great Thanksgiving and make sure to take time for yourself/spine.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:34 AM
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Thanks Justin.

I know when the radiculopathy started, I was at one week short of my six month anniversary, post-op.
I felt really good up to that point and had gone through the usual ups and downs. But I knew that something could happen, especially after I felt sharp back pain a couple of times, and was kind of wondering if I would stay this way.

So 1.5 years, you still felt recovery. That seems to be the common assessment that recovery continues to about two years.

As a medical professional, I kind of know too much, so I am real weary of things that come up. I am grateful i don't have the preop type of back pain. I am not back pain free now, but it is manageable.

Thanks for your thoughts and keep us advised how you are doing.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:37 AM
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Default 12-9-2008

Update on the radiculopathy-

Still have sciatica, but numbness is variable. Sometimes I have it, other times it is not as noticable. Somedays bottom legs are numb, today had weird numbness in my groin area but it didn't last. Pins and needle sensations in feet, intermittedly, etc...
I took my x-rays and MRI to my doctor appointment with my foot doctor and he says that the films look good and my placement is good as far as he can tell. He put some heel lifts on my orthodics to take pressure off the sciatic nerve. He also injected my right foot for the plantar fascitis, which actually helps a lot.

He questioned why my doctor hadn't had me have an epidural.
Some doctors just seem to think differently. After reading about epidurals here and on the other sites, i wonder if they are that good for you.

I think I will have a list of questions when i see my surgeon in early January.
I just want to find out for sure what is irritating my sciatic nerve/nerve roots.
I increased my exercise amount and I have increased back pain but I figure the sooner I take all this extra weight off, the better. I am trading some comfort for increased fitness.

It is all a mystery to me, but there are other people on here post-disc that have similar symptoms. I just know I can not keep putting up with this scitica indefinitely, it is a major crimp on my life style and my workouts.
I am not working, but that cannot go on forever either. I need to be working but can't work in this condition. I definitely want to go back to work, where, I don't know yet but I have a lot of experience.

But how can i work, when i am taking Gabapentin six times a day, periodically stop in my tracks when i feel the sciatica, and am sleepy most of the day as a side effect of the gabapentin? I dose myself with Tylenol three times a day for the back pain. Helps a bit.

I don't want to go on everyday narcotics again either. My backpain feels deep and somewhat like I had before surgery. Not completely though. I hope I have left that back pain behind.

My PT thinks I have the radiculopathy because my facet joints are inflammed. I don't know about that because I seem to have better sitting tolerance than other people on here suffering from facet-related problems. My facets only had minor hyperthrophy before surgery.
I guess I have a lot of questions and not many answers. Now, almost nine months post-op.
Going to bed, it is late and I need to get up early to get a walk in.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:40 AM
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Default 12-10-2008

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I can't remember if I asked if you had tried Lyrica. Lyrica is a little more site specific instead of acting globally like Neurontin does. I think the Lyrica is a wonderful medication for the nerve pain.

As far as the epidurals I am scheduled for next Monday after all. I think God is looking out for me. I have not had any injections in a year's time. I am having some difficulty in being seated for an extended period of time. I think it is the SI joint.

I think the opinions are so varied with facet blocks that it is going to have to be your decision that counts. Prior to my 4-level ADR the injections were not helpful. After the surgery I received injections every three months for the first year. The injections lasted about three months a piece. I am hoping that the injections I get are going to be good for another year. I can live with that.

Hang in there and let me know what you think.

Terry Newton
__________________
1980 ruptured L4-L5
1988 ruptured SI-L5
1990 ruptured C5-C6
1994 ruptured C6-C7
1995 Hemi-Laminectomy C5-C6, C6-C7 Mayo Clinic
Bicycle Accident 2004
MRI, EMG, Facet Injections, Epidural Blocks, Lumbar Discogram.
Stenum Hospital Surgery November 4, 2006
Prestige Disc C5-C6, C6-C7
Maverick Disc S1-L5, L4-L5

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:42 AM
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Hi Terry,

I think first I have to find out where the sciatic nerve is being compressed because in my mind there is no question that it is being compressed.

I think a CT spinal mylegram would show that but if i can't have that the alternative is to try different injections--epidural and facet.
I will just push for something because being in pain and having this sciatica isn't doing me any good.

As for the Lyrica, Bc will not cover Lyrica, only Gabapentin. And I had a little trouble getting across to them that I needed the gabapentin six times a day. At first they balked at that and I had to explain to the pharmacy that they (Bc) better cover the Gabapentin. So stupid.

I did stop taking Aleve in favor of Celebrex. My cardiologist, the last time I saw him, said there was nothing wrong with me taking Celebrex so I opted for it since the Aleve was bothering my stomach and I think Celebrex is a better antiinflammatory. Surgeon didn't want me taking the Celebrex because of the cardiac warning, but too bad.

I am starting to kind of get mad about my circumstance because I expected a little bit better.
Terry are you getting epidurals or facet blocks?
How can you tell that the facets are inflammed or the problem?
What kind of symptoms do you get with sitting?
I am sitting on the couch right now but it is kind of reclining and is not like a chair and I often put my feet up. But with this position, I have the sciatica and my both my feet are kind of burny and numb. The only pins and needle sensations I get are in my feet.

My podiatrist put extra heel lifts on my orthodics to take off pressure on the sciatic nerve but they are causing me knee pain and my PT said raising my heel can put pressure on the facets. So I took them off tonight primarily because of knee pain.

As for the Gabapentin, I wonder if i have narcolepsy. Just kidding but I am so tired during the day and have to really make an effort not to fall back to sleep. I wish B covered Lyrica. I feel like I am a closet sleeper because like this weekend during the day, I laid down and slept for four hours or so. At least that is what my husband told me, I wasn't counting hours.

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 04-05-2009, 08:43 AM
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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I will be getting facet injections and SI joint injections. I am scheduled for the 15th which is a miracle. My primary physician is out the whole month of December so I thought I was SOL until she got back after the start of the year. We are going on vacation for the holidays next Thursday so I have a 10 plus hour drive ahead of me. I wanted to be comfortable as it is such a long drive. Sometimes the injections have taken up to three weeks to kick in but I will get them anyway. She is a master with a needle. Her husband is my medical director for my clinic but he is not as gentle with a needle. She has the touch.

I just hope her medical partner is just as good.

I have burning and tingling in my left foot. It comes and goes but, sometimes it is quite intense. With the lumbar area acting up it also makes the cervical area hurt. I also have a hard time sitting comfortably and it hurts in my sit bone and my lower back. So I think we have it nailed to about four injections.

I have not been on Lyrica for way over one year. I was also almost entirely off of the Suboxone. I was on 4 Mg per day but have to ramp it up a little for the current pain I am in.

I am hoping that this temporary patch is just that; temporary.

You hang in there. I hope you have good holidays as well.

Terry Newton
__________________
1980 ruptured L4-L5
1988 ruptured SI-L5
1990 ruptured C5-C6
1994 ruptured C6-C7
1995 Hemi-Laminectomy C5-C6, C6-C7 Mayo Clinic
Bicycle Accident 2004
MRI, EMG, Facet Injections, Epidural Blocks, Lumbar Discogram.
Stenum Hospital Surgery November 4, 2006
Prestige Disc C5-C6, C6-C7
Maverick Disc S1-L5, L4-L5

Last edited by runner; 06-09-2009 at 08:28 PM.
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