What is your story about?
In 2009 I underwent a microdiscectomy for a herniated lumbar disc. At first, the surgery reduced my pain level to 0/10. After 3 years, it rose again to 3-6/10 and has stayed there since. I still do physical therapy, but mainly to improve my function. I also developed stenosis as a side effect of the surgery.
How did you herniate your disc?
I assumed that it was bad posture throughout most of life and that my occupation required a lot of standing which caused the herniation. Being skinny, weak and standing all day affected it.
What type of surgery did you have?
When did you have surgery?
10 years ago, in 2009
How old were you when you had this surgery?
28 years old
How did you decide to get surgery?
I went under the knife after 3 months cause we saw a bony spur, spurs don't go away.
What was your recovery like?
When I woke up from surgery my pain was reduce to 20% which I was really glad but still didn't want to live with chronic pain. Over the following month or two my pain went down to ZERO from a 10/10. I occasionally had pain when I sat in a bad posture.
My pain started to come back after 3 years, it stayed around 3-6 out of pain.
Why do you think the pain returned?
Dr reckons it was cause I was moving houses and re-herniated the same disc. I was doubtful cause I made sure I didn't lift anything heavy but the MRI scans one year apart did show herniation reduced a bit. Only a few mm. It also may be due to scar tissue causing canal narrowing and scar tissue being more fibrous; it rubs against the nerve.
Were there any complications as a result of the surgery?
Yes, spinal stenosis. I have not yet pursued a fusion for this.
Are you currently doing any physical therapy?
PT for me is mostly about preventing further damage (core muscle strengthening) and heck a lot of stretching. After 10 years, I hardly think PT can improve on the pain but it makes me more functional.
Have you made improvements to your posture or strength?
Yes most definitely, my GP referred to me to a renown PT. I thought she was gonna do something special for my pain but all she did was look at how I stood (lean too forward), how I sat and how I walk and corrected them. Focused on exercises strengthening the muscles so I can be in those positions.
What advice do you have for someone thinking about surgery?
The advice I would give regarding surgery is that make sure you get at least see two specialists and get their opinion. Some doctors are knife-happy.
I also suggest that you bring someone with you to the appointments, someone with a level head so both of you can make an informed decision together. Being in pain it's natural to want to do anything to stop it including hastily making the decision to go under the knife. Bring someone with you so you can decide together and so you don't second guess your decision to have or not have surgery.