Thursday, February 11, 2010

I need some help y'all

Longtime friends know that I've been dealing with back problems for many years. Well, even after a couple of surgeries, I'm still dealing with back problems. I have two herniated discs. Only one was causing problems though, but it continues to re-herniate after surgery and the second disc is now getting worse.

I'm faced with some decisions. My doctor is suggesting doing the same kind of surgery I've done before - a microdiscectomy. That's where they go in and cut off the piece of the disc that pushing against the nerves. The other surgical option is to get a spinal fusion. For that they remove as much of the disc as possible and fuse the vertebra with screws and braces. My issues here are plenty. I kind of feel like why should I keep getting the same surgery done when it doesn't seem to be doing any good. From what I've seen and read up on the problem, my discs are likely to keep herniating as they degenerate. And the fusion is scary.

I want options. So I went to see a chiropractor yesterday who deals with a type of procedure called Vax-D Spinal Decompression. The doctor claims that the procedure - type of traction - straightens the spine, helps increase the space in vertebra again, and can even heal the herniated discs. He even claimed a 90% success rate. But, everything I've read online seems to dispute the effectiveness of Vax-D decompression. It's all nonsurgical and I wouldn't be putting my body on the line, but the procedure is very expensive and time-consuming.

Lastly, I'm considering just sucking it up and seeing if losing weight and getting some more exercise will help. This last one has got to help regardless, but I wonder if getting healthier alone will alleviate my issues.

I'd like to know if any of y'all have had, or know anyone who has had any experience with spinal decompression. Any advice would be appreciated.


Andy said...

Cullen, I'm sorry about your troubles. I had a lot of back pain in my late 20's...upper, and lower. I lost about 80 pounds, and it went away.

But, my wife has problems similar to yours. Her chiropractor told her to lose weight, and we bought an over the door "hanging bar" that she was to hang on for 5 minutes twice a day.

When she lost weight, and hung on the bar religiously, poof! No problems. Now, she has gained weight, does not exercise, and does not hang on the bar.

I think you can guess the result. Honestly, I don't know the severity of her disc problems now, because she doesn't want to go have it checked, fearing major trouble.

I know that was absolutely no help. But, I think spinal fusion would scare the crud out of me. I think I'd try just about anything first. I don't know anything about Vax-D decompression...maybe get a list of satisfied patients, if the guy has some that will testify for him...maybe?

Good luck, man. I don't envy you.

Maggie May said...

So sorry, Cullen. I wish I had some words of wisdom. All I can offer are good thoughts and prayers.

Mr. Bingley said...

I've found that exercise has done wonders for my back, and i'm sure the weight issue would help a lot as well.

i would do a lot more research on this other method this doc is pushing.

The Fifth String said...

I don't have anything to add, really, except that a former coworker with spinal arthritis (brought on by back injuries from high school football, IIRC) had it done and sang its praises. Take that one data point for what it's worth.

My wife, on the other hand, has ankylosing spondylitis but spinal fusion is not indicated for that. Not much she can do but use painkillers and muscle relaxants.

Steve G. said...

OK, late to the party, but a staff member at my church just went through the fusing surgery this morning. Following along might give an idea of what to expect, although so far they haven't been terribly verbose: