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Vertabral fusing to stop back pain?

  1. Most arguments are against, as it's just not a good solution, and oddly, doesn't often work that well. Issues tend to spread.

    Anyone know, or have a relevant opinion?
  2. Coincidently a friend of mine is having this surgery, today, actually it is probably going on right now.
  3. My comments may not be relevant to you now, as my experience is with a friend who had this done 15 years ago. For him he was better, but basically was in pain most of the time anyway, but a lot less pain than before the surgery. It limited his mobility, although he was much better off than before the surgery. He had a very severe injury and possibly the degree of your problems maybe part of the answer to whether some relief is better than none.
    The guy had stories that made you wonder why people ever worked for railroads, which is where he was injured. He was getting working to couple some cars and something went really wrong, and he ended up a mess. He saw a guy get coupled between trains, and was still alive until they pulled them apart. So much for OSHA.
  4. I blew out my L5/S1 disc in the late 90's while in my later 20's. The pain got worse over time to the point I couln't sit down anymore; I would either stand up or lay down. Going out to dinner, watching tv, etc etc was painful.

    I saw a doctor that wanted to do a discectomy, which removes the bulging portion and cauterizes the tear. He would have gone in from the back and would have had to remove some bone to execute the procedure. So I had a second opinion.

    The second doctor told me he too could do the discectomy, however he said it would only be a temporary fix, maybe good for a few years. What he suggested was to just get it over with in one procedure and get the fusion done. Which is what I did.

    For the procedure, he went through my belly area instead of sawing on my vertabrae, it gave him a clear shot into the disc area where he inserted two "ray cages"; titanium threaded, hollow baskets with holes where inserted hip bone (second incision) is put inside and grows to fuse it all together.

    I had this procedure done in January of 2000. 11 years later and I have NEVER had an issue again; no pain or even discomfort. The only noticeable con was losing a tiny bit of flexibility in my lower back. But that is only noticed if I try to stretch and reach my toes and is barely noticeable at that.

    I have heard others that did not have as good of an outcome as me; I believe it has to do with two things. My doctor went in through my front side (anterior), no cutting on my vertabrae. The other factor is the recovery process post surgery. I took EVERY recaution during the fusing time to baby my back, no lifting of anything, keeping my brace on during waking hours and sleeping on my back with a pillow under my legs.

    I would do it all again, without question. The pain I endured before hand and the loss of quality of life was unsustainable. I am sure there are plenty of good back specialists that can do a great job; my doctor was Randall Dryer at the Central Texas Spine Institute in Austin.

    Good luck with whatever you do.

  5. I'm glad it worked out for you and glad that you shared it with us.

    Good, inspiring story.
  6. Hmm, I hadn't actually looked into how they do this, certainly off putting.
    Have a long term problem with it-a couple of vertebrae got bad enough they actually ground away over time (the subluxated back edges, not the whole thing of course) .

    Doesn't grind anymore, but sure is annoying as heck, particularly right between the shoulder blades. Not acute pain, but then, neither is Chinese water torture.
  7. if you talk about Spinal Fusion with Instrumentation then it works my mother-in-law has been pain free since having it done, 20yrs ago.

  8. Wow. You actually care about your mother in -law?
    Sorry, couldn't resist that one.:)

    My issue isn't diabolical, just "bloody awful" but I'm looking in case it becomes that way.
    Comes and goes, but for years now it's been more here than there.

    I've had more than my share of severe pain, over time and I'm tired of it.
    I know this is a long term thing, I cannot simply wish it away, nor pray for it to magically become better.
    Particularly given I'm not religious, at all.
  9. you could go see benny hinn. i hear he can fix it. just kidding.

    i to have a back problem after my 20 ft fall off of a ladder a few years ago. the pain comes and goes. i have been researching my options. back fusion is very hit and miss. i hear of a lot of failures. i am interested in this instead:

  10. I have been thinking of starting a back pain thread for sharing solutions, I guess this will do.

    I have 2.5 herniated discs. I can consider myself lucky, because except not being able to play certain sports like tennis, and having stiffness and slight pain in the morning, I am generally OK.

    The injuries were always sport related, usually once a year I managed to pull my back in the last 5-7 years, ending in inmobility for a few days. Generally rest, time and physical therapy fixed things. I did look into more statisfying solutions though.

    2 years ago I had a steroid injection, but that is rather costly and the effect varies for every individual. Mine lasted for 3-4 days, after that the steroid dissipated into my body and no more lasting effect....
    Since I don't have pain down in my leg, I am not a surgery candidate, and I would only do surgery as a very last resort.

    Here is what I have found over the years that works for me:

    1. Sleep on as hard bed as you can stand. That is one of the most important thing, since you spend 1/3 of your time sleeping. One trick I did when I had to sleep on a soft bed is to put cardboards on the bed, making it harder. Eventually it will break up and soften, but for a few nights it works...

    2. Swim,swim,swim. This is the only sport I can do without any pain and I don't have to worry about sudden moves. Your spine has no weight on it while you are weightlessly floating in water. Taking hot bath also helps.

    3. Posture during the day. Find a comfortable sitting or lying position that doesn't hurt you in the long run. Even standing is better than sitting in the wrong position. I ordered a kneeling chair, but that put too much weight on my knees, but you might want to give it a try...

    4. Running is bad, walking is good. I have noticed if I squat for 20-30 seconds during my walks, that fixes my backpain. I guess it readjusts the spine or something. In a similar way, if I sit up in the bed for 5-10 minutes before getting up, that also fixes my morning pain. You might just have to find certain positions that readjust your discs...

    5. Nutritions: I have taken turmuric and it had positive effects because it helps the blood flow and has antiinflamatory and painkilling effects. It is an Indian spice, cheap and no bad sideeffects. It helps with your bowel movement too. Since then I switched to Krill Oil (Megared), for other reasons, I don't want to take both, so I stuck with the Krill Oil. But I would still take the turmuric, if I stopped the fishoil...

    6. There are messageboards for spine problems, look them up, plenty of good info. www.spine-health.com

    7. Physical therapy (strecthing, yoga) should be continued even after the pain goes away. It is important to keep your back and stomach muscles in shape...

    8. Don't be overweight. This was never an issue for me, but obviously extra weight puts extra pressure on your spine and discs...

    9. Try an inversion table. You can get a decent one under $200. 5-10 minutes hanging upside down might do the trick. I have one although I don't use it very often, I usually get sleepy on it. I guess its effect varies for each individual. Still, it is much cheaper than paying for spine pulling machines...

    10. If you have to lift something heavy, always squat first and lift with your legs keeping your back straight...

    In short, take some suppliment (turmuric), exercise moderately (swimming,yoga), sleep on a hard bed and watch your posture during the day....
  11. Here are some pictures what I have used and worth to give it a try. You can find different versions on Amazon:

    Kneeling chair for trading during the day (about $150):


    Inversion table (under $200):


    Turmeric (or curcumin) ($8 per month):


  12. my bed used to be like this


    and my pillow


    what can I say I had a 'hard' life.
  13. Turmeric? I cook with it, have a decent supply for cheap. How would one take the powder? It's not my favorite spice by a long shot.
  14. I took the capsule, that is the easiest way...But you can make tea with it...Since you already have the powder, you can buy empty capsules and fill them, then just swallow it. As you probably know, it is hard to get it out from clothes, it is a strong dye....

    Turmeric curcumin is an herbaceous plant in the ginger family. It is used extensively in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, and is also a popular culinary spice. It is believed to possess numerous health benefits, including the ability to relieve digestive problems. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic and anti-bacterial properties. Turmeric curcumin can be taken as a capsule, tincture, powder or even tea.

    1. Take turmeric curcumin in capsule form. Capsules can be purchased from local health food stores or some grocery stores. A typical dose is 250 to 500 mg two to three times per day.

    2. Add turmeric curcumin powder, found in your local grocery store or natural foods store, to your food. Use it in casseroles, soups, stir-fries, curries or anywhere else you could use some extra spice. Use approximately 1/8 tsp. per serving, although you can use more according to personal tastes.

    3. Take turmeric curcumin in tincture form. Tinctures can be purchased from local health food stores. A typical dose is 1/8 to 1/2 tsp. diluted in 1 cup of warm water, taken two to three times per day.

    4. Make a turmeric curcumin tea by adding ¼ tsp. each of turmeric powder and powdered ginger to 1 cup of boiling water. Allow the mixture to steep for 10 minutes, and then strain into a coffee mug. Add ½ tbsp. maple syrup and 1 tsp. lemon juice, if desired, and drink two to three cups per day, as needed.
  15. Before surgery here is one thing what I would try: prolotheraphy

    "Prolotherapy is also known as "proliferation therapy" or "regenerative injection therapy." involves injecting an otherwise non-pharmacological and non-active irritant solution into the body, generally in the region of tendons or ligaments for the purpose of strengthening weakened connective tissue and alleviating musculoskeletal pain."


    Basicly the idea is that the problematic area is artifically inflammed, and the body heals itself after the irritation, and eventually it will be stronger and healthier...

    Instead of me quoting, just google it and read up on it. It is not a very well known procedure and depending on where one lives, it can be hard to find a experienced practitioner. (Remember, they are messing around your spine.) Also insurance usually doesn't pay for it. So if you have to travel, it can be a problem because it could take 6-8 sessions...

    I looked into it, but I wasn't a good candidate for it. Nevertheless, I would do anything instead of a surgery, so it might work for those who have a serious condition and want to avoid surgery...
  16. I adjust my back by hanging by my hands from anything that will hold me and twisting and kicking, gravity pulls my back straight and it pops and whatnot. I also do a lot of stretching... Hyaluronic Acid will hydrate discs and cause them to plump up... Walking is the best exercise for keeping a healthy back. I like to do about 8-10 miles with a little jogging to get the heart rate up into fat burning mode at least a couple three times a week...

    If I needed surgery I'd go with artificial discs before fusion, fusion seems medieval to me. A friend of mine was in a wheelchair for some years after a Rodeo injury but after getting artificial discs he was working construction...
  17. Does the Hyaluronic Acid smooth out the complexion ?
  18. Cripes, reading the warning bits, maybe not for me. Maybe not for anyone, from the sound of it-they might as well say "This product will probably kill you. But it's FDA approved, and it might help. How bad could it be?":D

    Oh, and to Eight- walking and swimming are definitely the best bets for back pain; it's curious, most back injuries are lower back problems, but there seems to be few ideas on upper back injuries.

    Had a full set of x-rays done many many moons ago-was told I had the body of a professional athlete. Who wouldn't like to hear a doc say that, huh?
    Unfortunately, what they meant, was after retirement, when everything is rooted, basically.
  19. loll...

    I wouldn't let it bother you. That's a pretty standard disclaimer that can be found on most OTC herbal supplements. I'm on Triazole (herbal anti-E) and Stoked (horny goat weed and trans-resveratrol), and both products have a similar warning label. No biggie.
  20. Here is a doctor's experience with the fish oil/krill oil/curcumin (that is turmeric) combo:


    Basicly he is advising to take that combo instead of NSAIDs, like Advil. I will quote one of the responders:

    "Dear Dr. Eades,

    Had to come back here and let you know how well this fish oil/krill oil/curcumin regimen is working for my husband, who has osteoarthritis and suffers nasty flareups.
    He's been trying this for about a month or so, and has said the magic words, "It seems to be working."
    That is, in itself, a miracle. He's tried just about every supplement on the market in an effort to reduce the arthritis flare ups and deal with the pain. He was also prescribed Naproxen 500mg twice daily.
    We've been married for two and a half years, and this is the *first* time I've ever heard him say, "It seems to be working" about any supplement he's tried. Normally it's, "No, I don't notice much difference, I guess it doesn't work" in regard to the various supplements tried (everything from borage oil to something called ASU).
    Within about two weeks of adding krill and curcumin (he was already taking fish oil), my husband was able to start skipping doses of the naproxen. It was only about a week ago that I noticed he was limping around a bit, and in quite a bit of pain...
    Turns out he ran out of his curcumin and krill oil, and had been having to take more of the Naproxen again. While he has been prescribed a regimen of naproxen 500mg twice daily, he prefers to only take it unless he really needs too (because of the known negative side effects).
    To make a long story short, I made sure we got some more krill and curcumin, and today my husband doesn't need any naproxen.
    The krill oil isn't all that expensive (compared to things like OsteoBi-Flex), and the curcumin is darned cheap.
    Anyway - thank you so much for sharing this information about the krill and curcumin. It really does work.

    For anyone else trying it - it'll take a couple of weeks before you start noticing a major improvement, at which point you might be able to "ditch" your NSAIDS. And it'll take about a week if you happen to run out of krill/curcumin to start noticing that the joints are hurting again."
  21. Some 8 years ago I was attending a seminar for a local orthopedic surgeon. He is world renowned for minimally invasive knee, hip, and shoulder replacements.

    Anyway, he was touting a new titanium appliance intended to replace standard disk fusing practices. Worked similar to the way a bridge does on your molars. Titanium plating fused to vertebrae above and below the problem disk. Disk is removed, but rather than fusing the two vertebra, the appliance contained a pivot point allowing full mobility at the location of the removed disk.

    Wonder what happened to it?!