Picture this, you are lying there flying high in a drunken like stupor on an Opioid Narcotic drip after a Lumbar Surgery. You are rudely awakened to a Nurse PR actioner waiting to give you another cocktail of multicolored m&m sized Pain Pills. You finally muster up enough energy to ask the nurse a simple question, and the nurse abruptly blurts out, that the Neurosurgeon will be coming in to see you, and all of his post Lumbar Fusion and Laminectomy cases in 10 hours during morning rounds! You try to stay awake, but the post surgical pain is way too intense. Even with the extra heavy dose of happy meds you just popped, your eyes begin to blur as you pass out slowly while your dry cotton mouth is just not letting up as you suck on another ice chip.
Yes, you were told that you had no choice but to get the Lumbar Surgery because the MRI showed a huge DISC bulge pressing on your lower lumbar L5 level.
SO WHAT – ITS OVER THE DISC BULDGE IS GONE, and THIS PAIN WILL BE GONE FOREVER SOON TOO! Right?
Unfortunately, the DISC Bulge was NOT THE ONLY CAUSE OF YOUR PAIN despite what Dr. Google, Web MD, You Tube videos from ” Neurologists” or Blogs on other medical websites convinced you of.
You may not believe it but what if i told you, DISC bulges and herniations are always found on a large percentage of Lumbar MRIS even if someone is painfree?
50%, 75%, 1% – What do all of these percentages mean anyway?
THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE!
50% : In a big study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1994, Jenson et al. found that 52% of the 98 SYMPTOM FREE patients in their study demonstrated a disc bulge on MRI; This means 50% of NORMAL people walking around have POSITIVE MRI FINDINGS such as disc buldges, or herniations and they have NO Back or Leg pain! This explains that MRIs “falsely diagnose” the true causes of lower back pain in most cases.
1%: Only 1% of the patients in the study had a full blown disc extrusion which demonstrates that MRI is quite accurate for detecting large herniated discs. In other words, you could say that at least 1 out of every 10 patients will be forced to go through a second spine surgery within five years from the date of the first spine surgery because of recurrent pain.
75%: Only 25% of Lumbar Surgeries Succeed! This means that the 75% failure rate of Lumbar Spine Surgery is terrible odds to ever play with your back.
So as a Physical Therapist who consults Physicians and Chronic Back Pain patients I am often asked WHAT IS THE CRITERIA for recommending someone for Lumbar Spine Surgery?
THREE CRITERIA FOR LUMBAR SURGERY ONLY!
1. Bowel or Bladder weakness Caused by the Spinal Disc, also called a Cauda Equina Syndrome, this is considered an emergency surgery within 72 hours for Lumbar Decompression. In my whole career of 18 years as a Physical Therapist I referred (1) case for emergency surgery for Cauda Equina Syndrome. This is extremely rare.
2. A Severe Spontaneous and Progressive Drop Foot. This means that there is a foot paralysis on one side and the person must lift their hip to keep from tripping while walking ( this must be diagnosed as coming from the spine with an EMG nerve test to make certain the weakness is caused from the Spine and not the leg)
3. Severe Spinal Trauma. After a fall or bad accident there may be a boney compression, collapse or shift in the normal boney alignment of the spine. When this occurs it may press or pull the nerves of the spine causing pain numbness or tingling and or weakness in the leg or legs. This will have to be checked out with a Spinal Orthopedist first to make certain of the level of the spine causing the pain before any surgery is done.
So, if you have tried everything and you still have back pain that is just not going away there is hope for long lasting relief. I bet you are reading this and just realized that you do not fit into the 3 criteria I listed that require Spinal Surgery consultation. This means that if you suffer from Chronic Sciatica or Nerve Pain in the legs, or just unrelenting back pain, Physical Therapy with the right approach will be extremely beneficial and will most certainly help you get back your life again.
Do not hesitate anymore, call our office now to discuss your case with one of our Chronic Pain Spine Specialists. Still not sure about Physical Therapy, see what someone with severe Lower Back Pain has to say about the ALLCARE Physical Therapy difference.