I was a construction worker for 35 years. I am sure my occupation did not do my back any justice. In 1993, I suffered my first herniated disc at the L3-4 level. While undergoing months of conservative treatment, I suffered daily with pain levels that went right off the charts. Finally, enough was enough and I sought out a surgeon to fix the problem.
I found a terrific neurosurgeon while living in the Seattle, Washington area. After surgery, I had about 10 years of relief with very minimal pain.
In 2005, I was rear-ended by a careless driver talking on his cell phone. So many people conducting business in the car, putting on make-up, reading the newspaper, etc. instead of performing the task they should be doing. These people have no clue of how seriously and permanently they maim people. We won't even go to the lawsuit issue and the pennies insurance companies feel makes everything right. What a joke. They are criminals.
I suffered severe lumbar damage along with a C5-6 injury all requiring extensive surgery- 7 surgeries to be exact and I am going in for number 8 in two weeks from writing this article. I had surgery from back, abdomen, and now my side. I almost expired during the anterior approach and spent a week and a half in the ICU unit of the hospital along with another week on the spinal surgery floor. I also required a blood transfusion due to the ruptured blood vessels.
I will probably require many surgeries for the rest of my life. The surgeries have helped me tremendously and without them the pain was just unbearable! You have to look at many facts before anyone can just declare back surgeries as a failed process. By the way, failed back sugery does exist and many surgeons bill themselves "experts" at fixing the problem.
First, I have very little faith in "conservative" treatment and consider it a "bandaid" approach. I did it all- the physical therapy, Chiropractors, tens units, nerve blocks, steroid injections, etc. Yeah, some did work, temporarily. The cure was always short lived because if something is broken, you can't fix it with bandaids!
Secondly, MANY doctors play this game because it leads to huge profits, prolonging the inevitable while they sit back and collect money.
I also suffer from RSD in my foot and ankle from another work related injury. It's too complicated to get into all the specifics, but to keep it short, RSD is a neurological defect resulting from injury among many other causes. The big issue at hand is it relates back to the brain and memory. It has the same characteristics as amputation. The brain thinks things are going on that may or may not be! In my case, the brain thinks my foot and ankle were severed from the injury and therefore has attempted to shut off blood supply and nerve function; the same thing an amputee experiences.
The reason I mention all of this regarding the RSD is because I firmly believe that the pain we are experiencing with back injury or the aspects of aging are related to the time period we experience the severe pain. I believe if the approach were to be more timely, the fix accomplished more readily, then maybe the brain would not be as scarred therefore creating a more reliable surgery outcome.
The insurance companies criminal approach of trying to evade their responsibility or minimizing it at your expense plays a huge role. But you also have the doctors who are playing the game also because medicine has become a "business" with profits as the bottom line. The more they can milk you the higher the profits.
To sum this all up, I believe one has to take on responsibility and step up to the plate-as I did! First, do your research and find a competent doctor.There are many incompetent like any other field of occupation.
Secondly, express your opinions and feelings clearly to your doctor! Don't beat around the bush but be to the point! Does it hurt or not? Does the "conservative" approach work? Folks who answer "yeah, a little" or "somewhat better" are just playing games! The answers to those kind of questions definitely warrant "YES" and "NO" responses. It is your body. You should be making the decisions.
I believe surgery does work under certain circumstances and can be very successful. It should never be considered as a "last" choice. The longer you wait, the more the damage worsens and I firmly believe the more the mind will be imprinted! I am very thankful for my decision to undergo surgery, the competent surgeon I sought out, and the results I have experienced. The body is a machine. It will break and require repair. - Dennis