Dealing with lower back pain and trying to avoid a fusion.
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Just diagnosed with severe disc degeneration. Any suggestions, information, and help would be appreciated.
I have a similar issue. Can exercise help spinal stenosis
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My son had a similar issue and he was waiting for a surgery until a colleague recommended him PainCureClinic in BoulderCO. You buy the course online, do the homework and be in touch with John Thorton who is the fouder. My son was cured in 5 months.No more pain
Not just any exercise. What can work is Physical Therapy targeted at the cause of the spinal stenosis. You can find many medical clinic and surgeon websites that tell how the first treatment for stenosis and other back problems is PT, with or without careful use of NSAIDS. I have a detailed explanation of my own PT experience in the Neuropathy group, but I don't know how to transfer you to it. I'll repeat some of it here.
I have lumbar spinal stenosis, with lots of arthritis and herniated discs. In 2019 my specific symptoms were numbness, pins and needles, and tingling in my right foot and lower leg. That matched with the MRI showing compression on the L5 nerve on the right side; therefore, PT involved strengthening the core muscles to stabilize the spine. With less loose movement, there was less compression of the vertebrae on the nerve root where it exits the spinal column. After 8 weeks of PT (twice a week) and doing the exercises at home at least twice a week, the worst of the symptoms subsided. Another 4 weeks did not bring about any further reduction of symptoms and so I was discharged from PT. I have continued the exercises at home, about 3 times a week, and my condition has remained stable since then, on the RIGHT side.
This past January I began having nerve tingling and slight numbness on the LEFT side, starting at the top of the leg and flowing downward to about the middle of the left calf. The therapist identified tight muscles in my left buttock (this thanks to the rotation in my spine from scoliosis) as likely compressing the offending nerve, and he has been giving me a large variety of exercises to relax the tightness. It's been about a month, and this week I was delighted to realize that the symptoms have lessened. Again, the PT is twice a week, and then I also do the exercises at home twice a week.
To Lioness2001 and Barbfowler I would say this: find out what is causing your lower back pain BEFORE you even begin to think about fusion. Maybe an x-ray is needed, maybe an MRI. No matter what the images show, understand that doctors don't treat the pictures; they treat the symptoms as described by the patient. No matter how bad your back might LOOK, if the arthritic vertebrae and/or the herniated discs aren't causing an identifiable symptom (that is, identifiable by how YOU feel), there is probably no need for surgery.
Also keep in mind that most people have disc degeneration; another word for it is "aging." If I knew 20 years ago what I know now, I'd have started PT back then to retrain muscles, realign posture, etc…..and then maybe my spine wouldn't have become stenotic. I can't undo what's there, but (at age 75) I'm motivated to continue with an exercise regimen designed for MY specific physical conditions, in hopes of making it out of this life (20 more years?) without significant worsening of symptoms.
Hope at least some of this is helpful to the three of you…..
I recommend going to the Pain Cure Clinic website and reading about their method. It's based on John Sarno's work describing the important role of stress in causing back pain. And this program is part of a broader approach looking at the mind-body connection and the significant positive effects of meditation on relieving back pain from any source (changes the neural pathways of pain).
To Lioness2001: you don't say what the nature of your back pain is. Unless you know of some structural problem that's pointing you toward fusion, it might be helpful to consider Sarno's work. Perhaps stress is indeed causing your pain.
I am currently taking the 8-wk Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program online, offered by our university medical center, to help me control the anxiety associated with having an ailment (numbness) for which there seems to be no cure, and which can only be "managed." (You can find LOTS of info about MBSR online if you're interested.
Siltan. Thank you!
Yes. Pain CureClinic is based on Dr Sarno s teachings
First, let me say thank you to all of your replies. I must begin by saying I didn't just fall off the apple cart with this degenerative disease. I am 69 years old, an avid bicyclist and walker. I've experienced sciatica and back pain over the years and dealt with it through PT, and my own regimen. I found Sarno 20 years ago and recently David Hanscom (Back in Control). Last year I had a 4 level cervical disectomy with fusion. It took me two years to make that decision and it was a good decision. Not all surgical decisions are the wrong ones.
Fast forward to January of this year, during a 3 mile walk I had extensive leg pain. Thinking it was a bad case of sciatica, I treated it as I always have. Conservatively and in my own way. Unfortunately, it didn't go away. My MRI showed stenosis and a cyst on my spinal column at 4/5 and a spondylosis at around 25%. I also have stenosis and severe degenerative disk at level and at S5/T1. After two months, the cyst abated and a second MRI showed it gone. Complete strength in my legs with no problem walking. My lower back pain has continued to be the problem. My pain management doctor has done an epidural and facet joint injections. Two orthopedic surgeons, one of which did my neck surgery, have advised a fusion but I am very leery of doing that. Too many failed fusions and borrowed trouble. I also think my neurosurgeon doesn't think my spondylosis is severe enough to warrant it. He has me in a six week PT problem starting today. I agree that looking at an MRI doesn't necessarily warrant next steps. But sometimes it does show severe abnormalities that must be addressed. My brother is an athlete in South Florida and had back surgery and has continued to win golfing awards. My point here is everyone must do their homework and get MANY opinions before moving forward. At this point I am hoping PT, conservative home treatment, and I've started reading Hanscom's book – will all get me back up and running. Also, I've been advised by a physicist that core training alone is not the best thing. All over body strength is more important.My last advice if I may is if you have tingling and numbness of any kind, you must get that checked out. Best successes to all of you!
Definitely agree that core training alone is not the best thing. Right now, though, it's the main area of my overall exercise regimen, having NOT been an adequate part of it before. Trying to make up for lost time, get my exercise program in better balance.
I have Hanscom's book, too; read it a couple years ago, found it very helpful for understanding (as with Sarno) the effects of anger and anxiety on back pain. If you follow the DOC program, would you let us know how it works for you?
Whenever I read about successful back surgeries, such as your cervical one and your brother's, I think to myself that maybe I'm being too timid, that just maybe it would work out all right for me……but then I get scared and go back to my conservative approach….right now it's PT, acupuncture, and MBSR.
I'd like to know if your conservative regimen reduces or eliminates your current lower back pain. That's not my specific problem, as I earlier explained, but it sure would be encouraging to read about someone's success with non-surgical treatment. One other thing…..do you need to take any strong prescription drugs? Gabapentin is usually prescribed for tingling nerves, but I've been able to stay off that….so far…..
Good morning, yes if I follow the DOC program, I'll let you know what I think. Right now I'm a third of the way through Hanscom's book. My takeaway so far is there are docs that cut and docs that are conservative. What's on the MRI doesn't always dictate surgery. Unfortunately, some docs that cut are correct in doing so and give their patients a good life. It's just so hard to tell what kind of outcome a person's going to have. Is acupuncture working for you? What is MBSR? I'm in water PT three times a week. So far so good. As I said, I'm doing the conservative approach first and then see where that leads me. I have opinions from two orthopedic surgeons and one neurosurgeon. I'm not big into drug therapy, but when I hurt I've been using Meloxicam (which is stronger than Ibuprofin), Flexeril, Alieve, and Tylneol. (not all at once of course). I'm not sure a fusion is the answer. I keep reading about the failure rates of it and the impact on other joints. At some point I'll have to "pick a doctor" as my husband says. Oh and Gabapentin hasn't really been good for me due to side effects. On another note, tell me. What specifically is wrong with your spine? Do you have stenosis, spondylosis, etc? Best, Jeanne
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