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Anyone had back surgery?
For a herniated disc

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16 replies to this topic

#1 blondie82

Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:21 PM

I have 2 herniated discs L4 and L5 and have been advised that l'll be looking at surgery to repair.

It's a very long and boring history as to how I've come to this but both my latest CT and MRI has suggested that the disc fluid is leaking onto my sciatic nerve which, to say the least, is excruciatingly painful. I'm basically in pain 24/7 from the top of my hip down to the tip of my big toe.

Anyone else is or has been in a similar predicament and come out the other side better off? Particularly the surgery component.


#2 lamarque

Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:21 PM

No, I haven't sorry just wanted to wish you all the best.  Sounds like you're in agony you poor thing.   sad.gif

#3 SeaPrincess

Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:31 PM

DH has.  Twice.  His is the result of an old rugby injury.  PM me if you have any specific questions, but the first time, he had reached a point where he was unable to do anything for any length of time without it hurting.  The second time it came on very quickly and he couldn't sit, so he went off to hospital in an ambulance.

#4 peachkoala

Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:32 PM

Hi blondie82,

I fell last July and herniated my disc at L5/s1. The sciatic nerve pain was very bad, could not lie down, stand, sit or walk when it first happened, it started feeling better once I started taking anti inflamatories. I was unable to work as I have an office job and I was unable to sit for even short periods.

I had a CT scan and then MRI. Went to Physio and doctor who both told me to see a back surgeon. The surgeon told me I did a really good job of it, it was pretty bad. He recommended surgery. A microdiscectomy.

6 weeks after I fell I had the surgery. The recovery time was 6 weeks, after 4 weeks I was back at work for a few hours at a time. I work for my DH so I was able to have that flexibility of when and how long I worked.

It is a very very slow recovery time. The sciatic nerve takes a long time to heal.

I am 6 months out from the surgery. I am about 90% recovered. I still get the occasional twinge down my left leg but it isn't too bad. The toes on my left foot get numb quite often though. I can walk about 20min before I start feeling a bit of pain, mainly in my foot. So I exercise in short bursts (walking to and from school etc).

I do not regret having the surgery. As I had it done so quickly after I fell I feel that it has helped with my recovery time as my sciatic nerve wasn't compressed for too long.

My back does hurt sometimes but once I rest I feel fine.

What is the surgery that has been recommended for you?

#5 Judydoll

Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:36 PM

DH had back surgery May 2012.  Protruding disc at L4 which affected the nerves down right side of his body - back to  toes.  Back surgery preformed at Wesley Hospital Brisbane.  10 days in hospital and 9 weeks rest at home.  First 4 weeks were pretty much bed/couch ridden.  Dr has said it will be a good 12-18 months before he feels like his old self (just not with back issue though).

Dr who performed surgery replaced that section of his back with plastic (can't remember the technical term) disc and screwed it all together.    He has only just recently managed to "run" - slides his feet like roller skating to move along and has told me that it doesn't hurt to do it this way.  

Sorry to say A LOT of pain and very slow recovery but the results have been worth it.

PM if you want to know Dr's name/costs as I'm not sure I can put it here.

Look at all options.  1 Dr said he'd shave the protrusion.  Dr we went with did a replacement as he said there was no guarantee a shaving would work.  He also said by replacing disc altogether it would provide support for discs further up back which would mean no further protrusions down the track.  Choice was - shaving and be back in 3 months time if it didn't work to have replacement (2 hospitalisations and 2 lots of recovery time) OR replacement to begin with (longer recovery period) but guaranteed to work in our case.  

Good luck.

#6 JazzyWeasel

Posted 09 February 2013 - 11:20 AM

I have 15 weeks ago for a L5/S1 disc protrusion. I had a microdiscectomy. Was in pain for 6 months with pain radiating down my left leg. No feeling in my 3 smaller toes and could not lift myself on that one foot.
Pain gone as soon as I woke up from surgery. Home the next day. Walking up and down the street because they want you to walk as much as possible. I was doing 10 min up the road to start with so it was slow progress. I could drive for 5 mins to get DD from school by the 3rd week. No lifting more than 2kgs (so a full kettle). I still do not carry washing out to the line I just do it at night when DH is home or DD is home to carry it for me.
Just really listen to what the surgeon and physio tell you.
Any questions just ask  biggrin.gif .

#7 If You Say So

Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:18 PM

I had a partial discectomy 9 years ago. I had some fleeting pain (on standing) for a few weeks, then one day I woke up and could not stand up straight anymore. I had the surgery after 7 weeks of pain and being bent over.

Once I woke up from the surgery I had no pain what-so-ever, and the recovery was a bit slower then than what it is now (ie werent allowed to sit for first few days, then only small amounts, standing also to be kept to a minimum) I went back to work after 6 or 7 weeks. I had no pain at all for the fist 6-7 years.

The neurosurgeon told me that there was a chance that it might go again some years down the track, but I have been very lucky. Since having the surgery I have had small amounts of back pain and nerve pinching which might last for a few days to a week, but it has always been due to something silly I have done (eg sitting on lounge without support, twisting & lifting), but the pain has always been able to be managed with heat (love dencorub original.gif ) and nurofen / nurofen plus.

I have some nerve damage which required physio for a while (weakness in R leg), but it has resolved now where it is only obvious on a neurological exam.

I thought it might flare up during pregnancy, but I had no troubles with my back when pregnant at all.

If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me.
All the best.

#8 blondie82

Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:04 PM

Thank you so much for all the replies. This has really helped me navigate through this.

Just a couple of queries though; who here went private/public? If public, was there a wait? To the PP who went on to have a subsequent pregnancy, did you have any issues throughout?

I don't have PHI so at the moment I'm channeling the public system however should the wait list be extensive, I am willing to pay to go private (if I am able to do this of course?)

#9 PizzaSteve

Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:04 PM

Hi, I had an emergency microdiscectomy at L5S1 over 2 years ago. Like other PPs, terrible pain prior to surgery and when I woke up - perfect! But long recovery, as I couldnt lift my 5 month old for over 2 months meaning I couldnt be left at home with him by myself.

Been great since, will never be the same but you wouldnt know from looking at me.

Good luck!

#10 PizzaSteve

Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:09 PM

Went private as had to make a quick decision and had PHI so figured should use it. But all up cost was still about $8k out of pocket. I have decided not to have another child as cannot guarantee it wont screw my back.

#11 If You Say So

Posted 09 February 2013 - 08:14 PM

I went private as I was told it was over 12 months wait for public. Out of pocket the only thing I had to pay for was the $200 excess and $800 odd for the anaesthitist (medicare & NIB only covered about $50 each). And $160 for the neuro consult before & followup.

Lizzie04 - thats a lot out of pocket when you pay PHI. I saw my invoice and PHI covered the $8000 for the hospital and neurosurgeon.

Blondie82 - have you gotten a quote about how much it will cost? It looks like PHI might not even save you much going by what Lizzie04 had to pay. For me, even if I wasnt in PHI I would have spent the $ and gone private as the pain was so unbearable and debilitating that I couldnt function (physically or mentally) and I wasnt prepared to wait 12 months or more.

As for subsequent pregnancy, I ended up waiting a bit longer to try for #2, but I had no problems at all. Maybe I was being more careful with how I moved and what I did, but I know I was able to carry DD1 when pregnant with DD2. DD1 was 18 months when I had the surgery, and she was 3.25 when I fell pregnant with DD2.

Good luck with it.

#12 Remeud

Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:22 PM

I had a microdiscetomy at L5/S1 just over 10 years ago and it was the best thing I could have done.
I'd had severe back pain and referred pain in my legs for over a year before and had visited the physio for temporary relief twice a week during that time.
I was in hospital for a few days, but being 23 I was up the next morning and remember doing laps of the level.
I can't remember the exact timeline of my recovery, but I think I had the operation when the uni year finished in November and went overseas on holidays in the January. I remember bouncing around in the back of a ute in Cambodia thinking I wouldn't have been able to do this before!
I went private at Epworth Hospital, but my parents paid whatever gap there was.
Also, my Dad had 2 discectomies before I had mine - guess I inherited his dodgy flat back.

#13 blondie82

Posted 09 February 2013 - 10:41 PM

If you say so, does the invoice you receive list everything then? I don't have PHI but I'm totally prepared to pay $8k (if that's it) to go private and get it done quickly. Also, what did the neuro suggest about getting pregnant again? did he/she say there could be risk to the spine again? Lizzie04, are you say that yours cost a lot more than $8k??

I'm in Victoria if that helps.

#14 If You Say So

Posted 10 February 2013 - 05:42 AM

I cant remember exactly what was on the invoices, but it might have just been for the theatre fees, hospital stay and neurosurgeon fees. I dont recall the anaesthetics on it, which I think he billed separately to the hospital.

The neuro told me I would be fine to get pregnant again if thats what I was planning, but that there was a chance of it happening again regardless, as some people just have dodgy backs, and I was one of them. I told him I would wait for a couple of years before trying, but he said I didnt need to wait quite that long and that 12 months is sufficient.


#15 PizzaSteve

Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:11 AM

Mine was emergency, so no chance to check pricing or costs beforehand. All my hospital stay was paid, but neuro was expensive ($10k from memory) and anaesthetist on top of that. So definitely rebates there but scans, MRIs, drugs etc all cost too and it adds up.

This was in Sydney, at the SAN. I would have looked around and costed out if Ihad known I needed surgery for sure! My PHI really was not great for this.

#16 Romeo Void

Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:25 AM

Oh so glad to see this.  My DH is in hospital after I drove him up last night (couldn't stand seeing him writhing in pain for a second longer) and is due to have his disc shaved tomorrow.

Post surgery is there any particular activity/exercise that could be beneficial for him to help prevent a repeat?

sorry, drove him up Friday night...I've lost a day LOL.

Edited by Romeo Void, 10 February 2013 - 09:26 AM.

#17 SeaPrincess

Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:36 AM

PHI records tell me that the surgery and hospital stay (private hospital) cost almost $17,000.  PHI paid out about $11,500, which is less than I thought, so we must also have got some back from Medicare because I thought our OOP was around $2,500.  Apparently we would have had better cover with a different health fund, but we don't go to the neurosurgeon very often, so I'm sure we've probably saved that in premiums over the years.

Note that this includes all appts with the neurosurgeon, including initial consultation through to follow-up, but does not include any of the diagnostic MRI's, ambulance transfer to hospital, admitting via the emergency room, follow-up physio or any of that.

Romeo Void, I don't remember him having to do anything in particular afterwards. The surgeon he saw says to limit his exercise intensity and no contact sports, but he is cycling to work now, swims regularly and does actually run.  He will never play rugby again though.

ETA, this was in Oct 2011.

Edited by SeaPrincess, 10 February 2013 - 09:39 AM.

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