Feeling really torn about getting back surger... - Pain Concern

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Feeling really torn about getting back surgery, either way I'll end up in a wheelchair

anonymous-one profile image
14 Replies

Feeling really down today. Yesterday, I found out my MRI results on my back. I'm just a basket case over the terrible news.

I've got some severe degenerative arthritis, lots of large bone spurs and very severe narrowing of an area in my lower part of my spinal canal (L2-3 and L3-4). I really don't have too many options here. I can have excruciating back surgery to remove the bony blockage that's putting pressure on my spinal canal. The surgery will leave me with permanent severe back pain, balance problems, permanent nerve pains in my legs, leave me wheelchair-bound and I will have urinary and bowel incontinence for the rest of my life. And the incontinence can progress so bad due to lack of muscle control, that it can cause a kidney infection. I only have one kidney.

Or the other route that I can chose is.. to not have any surgery at all and let the damage to my spinal canal just take it's course. I'll still have my back pain, I could still lose bladder and bowel control but I will definitely end up in a wheelchair within a year for the rest of my life.

I am 57 years old and I don't know what to do here. Either way, I'm screwed royally!! And one last thought, my house is not handicap accessible. My life SUCKS!!

14 Replies

Hi there , sorry to hear what you are going through I had similar choice when I was told I had all the problems , have you got any of those symptoms now because I thought surgery would help ,my bladder and bowel are a bit better there is always ways to help your bladder and bowel to help them

Lolarufus123 profile image

Hi Anonymous one, I am so sorry to hear about you're dilemma. I find it odd,that you're surgeon can tell you that if you don't have the surgery you will end up in a wheelchair within a year. How does he know? Maybe it's 2 3 or 4 years. Given youve,been told if you have the surgery you will end up in a wheelchair, lose you're balance and suffer nerve pain in you're legs, why would you even consider having the surgery. I have nerve pain in my groin, lower butt and thighs. The front of my left thigh is numb and the soles of my feet tingle. This is severe pain and nothing kills it. I suggest you get a second opinion about what's likely to happen in the future with you're back. I would also suggest you write down the pros and cons of having surgery before you make a decision. All the best. Lola

anonymous-one profile image
anonymous-one in reply to Lolarufus123

I have lots of other health problems that I have to consider too. I only have one kidney. The other one was destroyed by massive blood clots 15 years ago. So I only have one kidney and I'm in stage 3 kidney failure. I can't afford to get UTIs or other infections. I'm also on blood thinners for life. And I've got a fractured, migrated damaged IVC filter in my chest that's in little bits traveling through my body. I also have double knee surgery coming up due to the chronic arthritis in both knees. I have moderate scoliosis and a few bulging discs in my upper back. But, the idea of the recovery from that type of back surgery just terrifies me.

Currently, I have some back aches with lots of stiffness. But I've just been dealing with the pains over the years. I also have some swelling throughout my spine, groin and legs. I think it's from my lymphadema. I'm lacking blood circulation to my legs because of the old remnants of the old clots I've had over the last 15 years. And along with all the physical problems I also have severe PTSD. I take anti-anxiety meds. But I still have seizure attacks from meltdowns.

I've got a lot of health problems and this "possible" back surgery and recovery issues really doesn't help me decide if it's really worth it to have the back surgery. It seems like once a surgeon operates on one's back, that person is constantly having more problems and seeking more revision surgeries.

My sister has had 4 back surgeries over the years in addition to a triple fusion 2 years ago. And she suffers every day with terrible pain. The discs above and below her fusion are giving out. Yet she wants another back surgery. She shared the pics of her 3 ft scar on her back. She also had to wear a stiff body brace for a year 24/7. Many days she's bedridden from her pain. Many times she can't get out of bed in time to make it to her bathroom. I don't want anything like that to happen to me.

I just got my MRI results yesterday. I saw a chiropractor for the first time in 6 years. After going over my health history, he turned to me and said "you sure have a lot of health problems." He also promised to take it slowly with any future adjustments. I have to admit his hydro-massage heated lounger was really relaxing. It's the first time in a long time that my back felt "normal."

Very sorry to hear that u r having to deal with all of this.Sending u a hug.

johnsmith profile image

I am at a loss to say anything. I have had a look at some of other posts. You need to find out time scales. Back surgery needs to be put off for as long as possible. You have your drug withdrawal issues to sort out. You are going to be in surgery under anesthetic. There is going to be a reaction unknown between the anesthetic and Klonopin.

See an Alexander Teacher. There is information you need to help you manage which they can give you.

Find a Buddhist group to help you learn meditation and mindfulness. This will help you with managing mental and pain issues. It will also prepare you to ask medical people some very difficult questions.

Contact your local church. They can give you information about charities, government help and other important things.

anonymous-one profile image
anonymous-one in reply to johnsmith

I don't have any drug withdrawal problems. I've never had any problems with anesthetics and Klonopin. I've had many surgeries while taking Klonopin. These days they say taking Klonopin and taking prescriptions for pain like Norco, are the meds that bring some concern. I only take pain meds as needed and I often break them in half. I recently had some oral surgery and was knocked out with IV sedation. No problems there. I was given a prescription for pain. But I only took 1 pill broken in half over 2 day period.

Actually the biggest problems I've had, was taking blood thinners. I'm on blood thinners for life. And if I have to stop for so many days, I'm at risk for clots or even a stroke. My mom had to go a week without taking any blood thinners and she had a stroke only days after a skin cancer procedure. My mom had melanoma. Her surgeries on her face and scalp often lasted 6 to 8 hours and involved a team of oncologists and plastic surgeons to reconstruct her face.

johnsmith profile image
johnsmith in reply to anonymous-one

Thanks for the reply. There are lots of problems with anesthetics and other drugs that are easily masked. I wonders how much damage has been done by drugs which reduce the ability of the body to monitor itself.

Wolf's law says: "bone grows where there is stress." muscle contraction provides stress. Bone spurs growth could be in response to muscular stress which youy are unaware of.

I don't know. It is for you to investigate.

Sallyderek profile image

Oh my word you poor thing.

Just research research research as every specialist has different ideas on how to treat you, it's best to find out all options X

deejames profile image

Hi. My issues were far less than you but I was told that I woukd end up in a wheelchair because of the severe osteoarthritis in my spine. That was 14 years ago. No wheelchair and I walked 2 miles yesterday. My spine has continued to degenerate and the osteoarthritis has spread to other areas but I am very glad I refused that surgery.

A second or even third opinion perhaps before you make any decisions.

Best of luck


miked46 profile image

I was told over 30 years ago that because of my spinal damage and arthritis I would eventually need to use a wheelchair. I do have a lot of pain and had a knee replacement 4 years ago. I don't use a wheelchair nor my numerous strategically placed walking sticks, and with help from medication I am enjoying life.

I am so sorry about the problems that you are having to deal with. Right now everything seems bleak for you and causes you to be pessimistic and negative. It's easy for me to suggest it, but your only way forward is to look at what you can do, the good things in your life, and search for a way to deal with it all. Optimism!

I wish you well. Good luck.

BlanketTime1 profile image

i'm so sorry you are facing this. I just wanted to let you know that.

karools16 profile image

I was diagnosed with curvature of the spine, aged 11. Am now 71. I wore a hideous back brace, at high school, but after 6 months, stopped. Cut into my thighs, heavy, and tried to hide under my school blazer. Nicknamed ;horse'. No problems until the past 5 or so years. Saw a top spinologist, who said an op was just as dangerous now, as would have been when a child. My Mother had refused the op as the risk of being in a wheelchair was high.I take prescribed co-codamol for the pain, and liquid morphine when too unbearable. I have Osteoporosis and lost 3" in height. I am also on blood thinners.For me, I wouldn't risk the op. As someone else, here, has said, how does the dr know you will be in a wheelchair? Whatever the outcome, I wish you the very best.

anonymous-one profile image

I also believe that I'm at risk for any back surgery due to my other health problems. I have a severe blood clotting disorder and also take blood thinners for life. I also have only one kidney because my other kidney was destroyed by multiple blood clots 15 years ago.

I don't believe I'd be a good candidate for back surgery because the surgery takes many hours to complete and my overall health would be at great risk. Another complication thrown into the mix, is that I have a fractured, tilted IVC filter in my chest. It's broken in pieces. Part of the pieces are laying over my good kidney and part of it is lodged in my other renal vein.

I'm about to have double knee arthroscopic surgeries over the next month. I have lateral tears in the meniscus in each knee. So arthritis is all through my body. Any arthritic related surgery doesn't really help bone pain. I know that knee surgery helps with knee pain by repairing the cartilage. Then you have to re-build the muscle to strengthen the joint again. This will be my 2nd surgery on my left knee and my 3rd surgery on my right knee. The orthopedic surgeon told me that my bad knees are related to the gait of my walking and that's related to the pain in my back.

I feel crippled in pain due to my back. It almost feels like vice grips are permanently placed on my mid-back and lower back to the point where...if I try to stand straight, my body just resists what my mind wants to do. Then I experience, horrendous pain. It's only been to this extent for the last year or so.

In the past, I had mild back pain that I could live with. But this time it's different and at times, unbearable. I think I'll ask for a muscle relaxant prescription next time I see my doctor. I can't take anti-inflammatories since I'm on blood thinners. I'm really limited to what I can do to control this back pain. I recently started chiropractic treatment last week. Hopefully it relieves some pain. He does have a hydro-massage lounger that feels so good. I wish I had one in my home.

Linnea1 profile image

I am SO sorry to hear what you're going through. I had 2 successful back surgeries for issues that included what you have going on. I had an amazing surgeon that made all the difference. I would recommend that as your first priority and, once you've done that, have the surgery. I am curious to know who told you that surgery would leave you with permanent severe back pain, balance problems, permanent nerve pains in your legs, leave you wheelchair-bound and you will have urinary and bowel incontinence for the rest of your life? Please forgive me, but it makes me think that the person who told you that (medical personnel, I assume) must have terrible results from the surgery coming out of that office. Is it possible that those are the possible results (as any surgery has)? Everything carries risk, but a skilled, trusted surgeon can greatly minimize those.

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