Author Topic: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?  (Read 5765 times)

doneby35

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Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« on: December 15, 2016, 02:23:29 PM »
I'm also certain that I have a bulging/herniated disc, Iread that a combination of exercises, a collagen rich diet and something called "TENS unit" are home treatments to get rid of the pain. Anyone here know anything about herniated discs? should I just go to a chiropractor instead? Each visit will be $50-$70.

slappy

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2016, 02:31:35 PM »
My husband had a herniated disc and found no relief from the Chiropractor. He went to his PCP, got an MRI to diagnose, then went for a steroid shot and PT.  The steroid shot helped almost immediately and then he went to a few PT sessions to help avoid reinjury. The PCP did mention that chiropractors have a hard time helping with herniated discs. I believe we have at least one chiropractor on the forums, so maybe they will weigh in. My husband did use the tens unit without much success.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2016, 02:55:50 PM »
I turned  down surgery, opted for some physical therapy, which helped a lot.  I was dilligent about doing the stetching/strengthening exercises they gave me.  Over time, I returned to the gym and really focused on strengthening my abdominal muscles.  Strengthening the midsection REALLY helps.  Swimming is terrific too.  As you heal, I would suggest yoga as well.

Cromacster

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2016, 03:07:55 PM »
Stretching and strengthening can help.  A tens unit could also help (I'd recommend a compex usa unit, a few friends have reported these work well and last)

I'd also recommend learning how to use a machine called a Reverse Hyper Machine.  It's a machine that decompresses the lower back as well as help strengthen it.  I know two friends to successfully treated herniated disks with this machine and anecdotally have heard of several others.  I use one almost every time that I work out.

As always make sure you check in with a doctor and get some x rays.  Don't want to skimp out when it comes to your back.

doneby35

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2016, 03:19:26 PM »
My husband had a herniated disc and found no relief from the Chiropractor. He went to his PCP, got an MRI to diagnose, then went for a steroid shot and PT.  The steroid shot helped almost immediately and then he went to a few PT sessions to help avoid reinjury. The PCP did mention that chiropractors have a hard time helping with herniated discs. I believe we have at least one chiropractor on the forums, so maybe they will weigh in. My husband did use the tens unit without much success.

I was hesitant about going to a chiropractor too. What does the steroid shot do? Is it safe?

I turned  down surgery, opted for some physical therapy, which helped a lot.  I was dilligent about doing the stetching/strengthening exercises they gave me.  Over time, I returned to the gym and really focused on strengthening my abdominal muscles.  Strengthening the midsection REALLY helps.  Swimming is terrific too.  As you heal, I would suggest yoga as well.

What do they do in a physical therapy session? is it exercises that I can just do at home instead?

Stretching and strengthening can help.  A tens unit could also help (I'd recommend a compex usa unit, a few friends have reported these work well and last)

I'd also recommend learning how to use a machine called a Reverse Hyper Machine.  It's a machine that decompresses the lower back as well as help strengthen it.  I know two friends to successfully treated herniated disks with this machine and anecdotally have heard of several others.  I use one almost every time that I work out.

As always make sure you check in with a doctor and get some x rays.  Don't want to skimp out when it comes to your back.

I heard about the decompression machine helping too, thanks i'll check it out.

slappy

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2016, 07:08:30 AM »
My husband had a herniated disc and found no relief from the Chiropractor. He went to his PCP, got an MRI to diagnose, then went for a steroid shot and PT.  The steroid shot helped almost immediately and then he went to a few PT sessions to help avoid reinjury. The PCP did mention that chiropractors have a hard time helping with herniated discs. I believe we have at least one chiropractor on the forums, so maybe they will weigh in. My husband did use the tens unit without much success.

I was hesitant about going to a chiropractor too. What does the steroid shot do? Is it safe?

I turned  down surgery, opted for some physical therapy, which helped a lot.  I was dilligent about doing the stetching/strengthening exercises they gave me.  Over time, I returned to the gym and really focused on strengthening my abdominal muscles.  Strengthening the midsection REALLY helps.  Swimming is terrific too.  As you heal, I would suggest yoga as well.

What do they do in a physical therapy session? is it exercises that I can just do at home instead?

Stretching and strengthening can help.  A tens unit could also help (I'd recommend a compex usa unit, a few friends have reported these work well and last)

I'd also recommend learning how to use a machine called a Reverse Hyper Machine.  It's a machine that decompresses the lower back as well as help strengthen it.  I know two friends to successfully treated herniated disks with this machine and anecdotally have heard of several others.  I use one almost every time that I work out.

As always make sure you check in with a doctor and get some x rays.  Don't want to skimp out when it comes to your back.

I heard about the decompression machine helping too, thanks i'll check it out.


The shot is basically a shot in your lower back. Many people say it helps immediately! I'm sure there are risks associated, since its going directly into the spine, but I'm not familiar with them.

For PT, you can go once or twice and have them show you the excercises and then you can continue them at home on your own. That's what my husband did. 

One thing that my husband's PCP encouraged him to do is to take over the counter medication for the pain. My husband generally doesn't like to take medication, but the PCP recommended he take the max dose for a few days. He said that it would help reduce inflammation and allow the body to work on healing.  I think my husband did that for about a week or so.  Obviously you wouldn't want to do it long term. But the PCP said that but not taking the medicine, he really wasn't helping himself because the remained inflamed and wasn't able to heal.

Have you seen your PCP at all for this issue?

dcozad999

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2016, 07:46:59 AM »
The shot worked for me for about 6 months the first time. The second worked for about 3 weeks.

chiropractor and physical therapy didn't do a whole lot for me either.

What finally helped me get rid of it was when I bought an inversion table. It took about a month, but it took away the sciatica pretty much for good.

A few times a year I still get a twinge, but a chiropractor showed me a back exercise that takes care of that. It's basically a pvc pipe inside a pool noodle. You lay on it with the noodle just under your shoulder blades and take deep calm breaths for about 60 seconds. Then you roll it down an inch and do it again. Rinse and repeat 5-6 times.

brute

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2016, 07:57:42 AM »
+1 for reverse hypers. The guys I know squatting 800+ swear by them, and they've been beneficial for both my wife and I.

Myofascial release therapy is also a good option. Rather than putting a pool noodle around a pvc pipe, I tend to use with the pipe and no noodle. I do have a fancy pants foam roller for my hips and IT band, which was worth the expense for me. I also use lacrosse balls (super cheap) to hit more specific areas of tightness in my back, and a weird looking thing called a theracane for trigger points too.

Sounds like a lot of money to throw down, but it's maybe $80 together, so about the cost of one session with a good myotherapist. Additionally, if you have someone around who doesn't mind spending half an hour with their elbow dug into you, consider getting a book on trigger point release therapy. My wife and I do this for each other and have saved thousands on chiropractor and massage bills. (Sure, we could quit powerlifting, but honestly, it's the chairs that we sit in for work that do most of the damage)

Rural

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2016, 09:02:41 AM »
I have two in my neck and am about to go back to a doc. I had one steroid shot a year ago that really helped for about six months, so I think I'll agree to another if he recommends it.


PT didn't do much for me, but I still think it's a good idea in a vacuum.


TENS unit is strictly pain relief, not treatment, but it works well and is much easier on the digestion and the liver than long-term NSAID use.

Papa bear

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2016, 09:10:33 AM »
My father has a ruptured disc and multiple herniated.  He swears by a supplement resveratrol. 

He refuses surgery.


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sisto

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2016, 09:39:54 AM »
I think it depends a little on which discs. Inversion can help, but it didn't work for me due to my issue being L5-S1 and I also have hip issues. I did get relieve from decompression therapy though. It's a traction machine that when setup right can really increase the space between the discs and give you relief. I had to have back surgery in 2006 because the last time my disc ruptured a piece of material completely broke free and wedged itself right in the nerve root, nothing would stop that pain.

doneby35

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2016, 09:44:25 AM »
Thanks everyone. I'm going to try and see if i can find an affordable inversion table, along with some of the stretch/strength exercises that I found on youtube for disc issues. Maybe also take ibuprofen max dosage for a few days for the anti-inflammatory purposes. If all that fails, I guess i'll start shelling out some money for doctors and MRI and all that.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2016, 09:59:34 AM »
I herniated a lumbar disc about 6 years ago. It took about 18 months to return to 95% functionality. Prolonged sitting, and squatting aggravated, but Ibuprofen knocked it back down. I did 3-4 PT appointments back then, but the exercises seem to aggravate more than help.

I reinjured the same disc about 3 months ago, and I'm deeply embroiled in PT, MRI's, and visiting surgeons. The referral process is very slow, which has given me some time to recover. It's also given me a lot of time to read studies on surgical outcomes, and try different manual approaches. My suggestion is to read as much as possible, and test things out of yourself.

Stuff I Have Tried
1. Waiting. Didn't work. ;)

2. Taking a 12 day course of Prednisone. Corticosteroids are like NASID's on, um, steroids. It knocked down the inflamation, which reduced pressure on the spinal nerve, which reduced pain and allowed healing. That's the theory, at least. I kinda worked.

3. Started PT, after Prednisone didn't fully resolve the issue. I'm sticking with this, 8 weeks later

4. Started accupuncture. I'd never had accupuncture before, and it took 4 sessions before I could really relax enough for it to work. Results were ambitious, with only 1 of 4 sessions reducing pain. It was $100 a session, so I quit after those first 4.

5. Borrowed an inversion table from a friend, and tried it during the same time period. It made me hurt more, so I abandoned it.

6. Started taking 600mg ibuprofen in 12 hour increments (i.e. 1200mg per day).

7. I stopped sitting. Not kidding. I either stand, or lie down. Any sitting is timed, and must end after 15 minutes. If I do have to sit, I use a lidocane patch. Apply 1-2 hours before the activity, because the gel takes a while to sink into the joint area. Or it takes the placebo effect a few hours to sink in. I'm on the fence here, but don't question too deeply, because it doesn't matter how it works, just that it works.

8. I stopped beinding into forward flexion. If I drop something, I do a lunge to pick it up. Sometimes I squat, but my achilies are too tight, and my lower back rounds at the lower end of the movement. The opposite of what I want.

9. I walk a minimum of 2.5 miles everyday. I was encouraged to continue, despite pain.

10. Three months of rarely flexing forward has tightened my already poor flexibility, so I'm slowly adding some stretches that don't floss the sciatic nerve.

There are other avenues to look into, that I haven't tried yet. Surgery, of course. Also chiropractors, decompression tables, and lots of books about foundational strength, pilates. All these treatment methods have rave reviews, and people that say it crippled them. Unfortunately, back pain is highly individualistic.

Final advice, read up on your transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, and multifidus muscles. Current theory is that back injury and pain are usually related to poor tone or control in these bad boys.


Rural

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2016, 11:00:34 AM »
By the way, the TENS units are available online without prescription and use a C battery.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2016, 02:09:35 PM »
Physical therapy is NOT just exercises you can do at home.  They might lie you on a table and angle your body various ways and stretch it, for example.  This is done by a professional who has seen your MRI scan.  It is not something you can learn yourself off of youtube:)

BTW, have you HAD an MRI scan?  If not, you really don't know if you have a herniated disc.  It could be "muscle spasms", for example.  A key symptom of a herniated disc is that you feel pain or some kind of nervy feeling in your leg(s) (because the disc is bulging and pinching the nerve...)
« Last Edit: December 16, 2016, 02:15:24 PM by frugaliknowit »

dcozad999

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2016, 02:40:43 PM »
A note on using the inversion table. Do your research before you start.

You should begin with a very low inversion angle and work your way down over a period of a couple weeks. And although they show the guys hanging fully inverted, from what i read in my research there is really no benefit to going lower than around 60 degrees inverted.

When I went fully inverted it was fun, but it really pulled on my hips and sometimes the knees. I decided I wasn't looking to trade one injury for another so I stopped doing it.

MsPeacock

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2016, 04:55:35 PM »
I have all Sorts of herniated disks and degenerative disk disease and various other nonsense wrong with my back

What has helped:
1.. Rolfing, which is like myofacial release.
2.  Physical therapy with someone who is a good fit for me. They are not all created equally. I have had best success with PT who work with athletes and lessor success wit PTs who work mainly with the elderly on mobility issues. Individual needs vary.
3. Doing the physical therapy exercises
4. Remaining active.

What has limited helpfulness
1. Flexaril or other muscle relaxers for the associated spasms
2. Steroid spine injections. Hit or miss. Useful at acute stage to calm down inflammation, but with rapidly deminishing returns
3. Acupuncture

What has not helped
1. Opioids - makes you sleepy and constipated but does not resolve underlying problem
2. Chiropractors
3. Sitting. Agree w/ PP that sitting in improper chairs magnifies the problem for me

No comment on inversion table.

My take away - correct the inevitable skeletal muscular issues that arise from a wonky back and you'll feel a lot better. This is accomplished with myofacial relsease and appropriate PT.

bassman2003

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #17 on: December 16, 2016, 07:37:12 PM »
There's loads of advice already mentioned.  Most of it is anecdotal in nature.  Here's some things to consider (especially if you are in the US)

When considering imaging, please keep in mind that most people have bulging or herniated discs in their back.  The majority of them are asymptomatic most of the time.  We've known this for well over 2 decades now. 
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199407143310201#t=article
From the New England Journal of Medicine in 1994, and many many confirming follow-up studies have been performed since then.  "We found a high prevalence of abnormalities in the lumbar spine on MRI examination of people without back pain. Only 36 percent of those examined had a normal disk at all levels. About half had a bulge at at least one intervertebral disk, and about a quarter had at least one disk protrusion."  Please understand that having imaging may not tell you why you are having pain.

Next, if you are having pain, one of the best things to understand is the way in which the nervous system/brain 'produces' pain.  I have many of my patients and students watch this short TedX talk from a famous Aussie PT, Lorimer Moseley.  https://youtu.be/gwd-wLdIHjs

Lastly, one of your best things may be to go to a highly trained clinician, with additional certifications other than simply a license.  My recommendation would be to find a physical therapist with their OCS (an orthopedic certified specialist).  Only about 5% of PT's have attained their board certification in orthopedics.  You can search for them on the APTA (American Physical Therapy Association) at this site.  http://aptaapps.apta.org/DirectoryofCertifiedSpecialists/default.aspx

Once you click 'orthopedics' and put in your zip code, and search, a list of clinicians with their OCS pop up (probably not many unless you are in a mid to large city).  You can then click on their profile, and find one that specializes in low back pain.

Best of luck.  Full disclaimer, I'm a PT that combo treats/teaches full time and has their OCS, so this obviously gives a degree of bias to my post.

obstinate

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #18 on: December 16, 2016, 08:23:07 PM »
My husband had a herniated disc and found no relief from the Chiropractor. He went to his PCP, got an MRI to diagnose, then went for a steroid shot and PT.  The steroid shot helped almost immediately and then he went to a few PT sessions to help avoid reinjury. The PCP did mention that chiropractors have a hard time helping with herniated discs. I believe we have at least one chiropractor on the forums, so maybe they will weigh in. My husband did use the tens unit without much success.
It's not surprising that chiros cannot help considering they are not real doctors and generally do not practice evidence based medicine. They are quacks, like traditional eastern herbalists.

MVal

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2016, 09:41:35 PM »
One reason people get slipped or herniated discs is they sit all day in poor posture and their low back muscles are terribly out of shape. Yoga has helped me immensely with this in the past, as well as with bad knees. My chiropractor has also done wonders. One little exercise that helps my discs get back on track and relieves the pain is doing the "cobra" or "Sphinx" pose, where you lie on the floor on your belly and arch your back with either your elbows or your palms on the ground. Look up herniated disc exercises on youtube like this.

Taran Wanderer

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #20 on: December 16, 2016, 10:49:05 PM »
I had one - L5/S1. Had an MRI to confirm. Just pain and no significant numbness, so I treated with physical therapy.  I was given a book called Treat Your Own Back that has been very useful. As stated above, the real benefit comes from strengthening your core.  The chiropractor actually made mine worse. I'm not a believer.

I would add, though, that every case is different. My brother herniated the same disc and in addition to severe pain he couldn't feel his junk or urinate. He was sent to surgery.

If all you are experiencing right now is pain, that's a good sign. Get your diagnosis and do the PT. Or try the book.  It's only ten bucks on Amazon.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2016, 10:14:57 PM by Taran Wanderer »

doneby35

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2016, 08:34:49 AM »
A lot of good info here. Thanks! MRI is something I've been considering, but due to the high cost, I've been trying to avoid going that route, but i just may... the 2 chiropractors I went to didn't really help or diagnose anything for me, they were just doing their adjustments, so that was a waste of money.

GetItRight

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2016, 04:27:10 PM »
I have several herniated discs in both my cervical and lumbar spine. Physical therapy helped, and I stayed active in general and continuing some exercises they had me do. I wanted to try spinal injections but did not as the government screwed me over by protecting the individual who caused these injuries, I could not justify the cost given the doctors wouldn't give any thoughts on whether it would help and they said it would be a multiple times a year indefinitely thing. I could not afford multiple shots a year potentially indefinitely.

So for me,exercise and booze help. I also got a new mattress (foam) which has helped. Pain is constant and varies from barely noticeable to immobilizing, usually somewhere inbetween. There are certain activities or motions that will set it off. I try to avoid those because it usually means a day or two or not being able to do much of anything. Bottom line I've found is any treatment is too expensive to justify, particularly as I'm still in debt repayment. So just tough it out.

MVal

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2016, 09:43:40 AM »
Did you get one of those lumbar supports for your desk chair? That really helped my herniated disc.

brute

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2016, 10:51:44 AM »
My husband had a herniated disc and found no relief from the Chiropractor. He went to his PCP, got an MRI to diagnose, then went for a steroid shot and PT.  The steroid shot helped almost immediately and then he went to a few PT sessions to help avoid reinjury. The PCP did mention that chiropractors have a hard time helping with herniated discs. I believe we have at least one chiropractor on the forums, so maybe they will weigh in. My husband did use the tens unit without much success.
It's not surprising that chiros cannot help considering they are not real doctors and generally do not practice evidence based medicine. They are quacks, like traditional eastern herbalists.

Chiropractors provide enormous benefit. Not all chiros are equal, and they aren't able to treat everything they claim they can. However, for the neck and upper back, they are hugely helpful. In my case, I had two vertebrae move out of position during a strongman event, carrying 800 pounds across my shoulders. I was in pain for weeks afterwards, no sign of getting better. I finally went to a chiro, they x-rayed me and put the vertebrae back in place. Pain was gone instantly, range of motion returned, numbness in my hand disappeared.

So while I appreciate your expertise on alternative medicine, in this case, it works. Traditional MDs will give you addictive opiates that will ruin your life, but, hey, evidence.

phred

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2016, 11:42:44 AM »
I had a herniated lumbar disc as shown on an x-ray.  I believe it was caused by bad posture when sitting (leaning forward too much), and bending at the waist when bike riding.
  The pain was in several lower half places.  It got so bad at night that it was difficult to roll over in bed.
  Anyway, the doc referred me to the hospital's physical therapy center.  After the first visit the pain went away for about two hours.  After the second visit the pain was gone for good although I had to keep up with the at-home exercises.
  The exercises are some of the 'McKenzie exercises".  I did them while lying on the carpet three evenings a week;  a good way to pass the time while the commercials are on.  Took about 20 minutes per session. 
  I was supposed to do them twice a week afterwards; oh, well.
  There are different McKenzie exercises for neck pain, but see an M.D. or O. D. first

Spitfire

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2016, 03:13:39 PM »
I have two grade 4 tears in my L4-L5 and L5-S1. I never got sciatica, just local pain, and was recommended surgery to have both spots fused. Before that point I had tried chiropractic, shots, and PT. I decided not to have the surgery.

A combination of acupuncture and staying active (mostly walking) has helped quite a bit. I have minor daily pain for normal activities, though I can't do intense exercise or lift extremely heavy objects without pain. Fairly recently I started doing yoga for 1hr/week, which has helped even more. I can't exercise the way I want to but surgery would not have been a guarantee either.

Maybe stem cell research will help someday.   

MsPeacock

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2016, 07:01:19 PM »
I have two grade 4 tears in my L4-L5 and L5-S1. I never got sciatica, just local pain, and was recommended surgery to have both spots fused. Before that point I had tried chiropractic, shots, and PT. I decided not to have the surgery.

A combination of acupuncture and staying active (mostly walking) has helped quite a bit. I have minor daily pain for normal activities, though I can't do intense exercise or lift extremely heavy objects without pain. Fairly recently I started doing yoga for 1hr/week, which has helped even more. I can't exercise the way I want to but surgery would not have been a guarantee either.

Maybe stem cell research will help someday.   

I worked with chronic pain patients - almost all of them post spinal fusion. The outcome literature on these procedures is terrible - most people are either WORSE or the same after the surgery. Many insurance carriers are now refusing to cover this type of surgery because the cost is so high and the outcome is so poor. Sometimes, unfortunately, the answer is that nothing more can be done. I think surgeons are often reluctant to admit this and for this procedure in particular, there was little outcome research done for many years to determine if it was even effective.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #28 on: December 19, 2016, 07:28:35 PM »
MsPeacock, do you also see many chronic pain folks who undergo the less invasive procedures like microdisecotomy or laminectomy?   A casual internet search touts a 95% success rating, but the world is full of people telling me to flee all spinal surgery.

I'm trying to perform my own due diligence by reading studies online, but it's tough going since my background isn't in scientific experimentation. I'm can't tell the difference between a well conducted study, and a poorly conducted one. Thus, I'd love your educated opinion.

 

MsPeacock

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Re: Anyone here treated a herniated disc?
« Reply #29 on: December 19, 2016, 08:52:38 PM »
MsPeacock, do you also see many chronic pain folks who undergo the less invasive procedures like microdisecotomy or laminectomy?   A casual internet search touts a 95% success rating, but the world is full of people telling me to flee all spinal surgery.

I'm trying to perform my own due diligence by reading studies online, but it's tough going since my background isn't in scientific experimentation. I'm can't tell the difference between a well conducted study, and a poorly conducted one. Thus, I'd love your educated opinion.

It has been quite some time since I looked at the literature. As I recall laminectomies are generally pretty good to ok at fixing nerve impingement. Anecdotally, my neighbor had one and it didn't do anything to fix his loss of lower body strength/sensation.

Your best bet is to find a fairly recent literature review by going on medline for the specific procedure. Up to Date, if you can get access, also summarizes the recent medical literature.

Get multiple opinions, not just from a surgeon - exhaust all other options (PT - preferably doctoral level w/a specialty in whatever problem you are having, physical and sports medicine doctors, etc.) Other factors that are important on an individual level is how often the surgeon does that specific procedure (you want someone who does lots of whatever you are having done) and any complaints/concerns that patients might have about that specific doctor/hospital.

I personally would stay away from a spinal fusion. My own experience with knee surgery *3* is that there is sharply declining returns and a lot of surgeons willing to operate or re-operate (because everyone wants to fix with the tool they have. Surgeon's have surgery as their tool). Surgery HURTS, healing and recovery are slow, and it does not return you to where you were before surgery. Spinal surgery is particularly complicated and hard to recover from.