Back Surgery


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jul 5, 2001
Savannah, GA
Has anyone here ever had back surgery, especially recently? If you have, could you post your comments on what sort of surgery you had and if you regretted having it done. Do you have a web site that I can go to that you found informative on back surgery? I'd appreciate any and all input.
Oh my, Jerry. Is that what they told you needed to be done?

Jerry, I haven't had back surgery, but I have several friends that have had surgery in the cervical and lumbar spine. I don't know of any of them that aren't in worse shape now than before the surgery.

Sorry to be a downer...
Jerry, my wife has a history of back problems going back about 22 years after she tried to slide an X-ray plate under a 300+ pound patient. She was hospitalized initially for nine weeks and has had nearly every known procedure performed on the two herniated discs.

Be careful about specific advice from civilians about your back. No two cases are the same.

BTW, after a rehab that lasted over five years, my wife eventually returned to bedside nursing. Most doctors told her she never would.

They also told her that driving a truck would be a poor second career choice.
Jerry : I posted the results of Maries back Surgery some time ago. It was a bit different then the sterotypical surgery . It also was preformed by a neuro-surgeon.
It was a Micro -disectomy .Marie had a fragmented 4-5 lumbar disc which was pinching on the trunk of the nerves .the surgeon (Dr. Najeeb Thomas of Ochsner Hospital in New orleans drilled a small hole in the vertabrae which releaved the pressure on the nerves and vaccumed out the fragments as well as the broken part of the disc. he did this through a small insiscion ( about 1.5 inches long ) while stretching the muscle tissue out of the way. this prevents the neeed of makeing a large evasive insicion and fuseing the Vertabrae sense the damaged disc is aloowed to reain .It also is done as same day surgery and took only about 1-1.5 hrs. after which marie was allowed to go home.Her pain stopped right after her recovery from the anethesia. She was told not to bend or lift for about 2 weeks and then in about 6 weeks it should return to normal. She seems to be fine other than the strain from favoring the good muscles and the Fact that the Bus driver in Atlanta unknowingly used her forearm to push Marie aboard the bus in the small of her back.
But she seems to be recovering.
Maybe you could try doing an ON-line search for this proceedure or Ochsner Hospital and the Nuerology dept. and Dr. thomas? If all else fails try calling 504-842-4000 and asking for Nuerology and then asking for Dr. Thomas.
We hope you recover soon and this is some help.
BUDDY& Marie
I have had several friends that had back surgery and they seem to have faired better with the surgery... relieved long-standing pain from prior injuries.

I also have friends that have taken every form of treatment - including chiropractic - that has helped in many cases.

Only know of one person that felt worse after the surgery.

But that is from my little world...

I have had back surgery before. I had a disk partially removed between L1 and L2. It was in 1990. I was a truck driver at the time. So much for that career. The disk that I ruptured was putting pressure on my sciatic nerve. The pain was so intense most days I could barely walk. There is no way I would be a functioning framer today without the help of my Orthopedic surgeon.

If you are looking to go the surgery route, there is a lot of different approaches. Orthopedic and Neurosurgery are much different. I have a customer that went the Neuro route and he has had 3 procedures and still can barley walk.

Please be careful with your choice of doctors.
Back around 1990, I had 2 vertebra fused together... L5 and S1. L5 was broken which allowed it to float around and press on the sciatic nerves for both legs. They take bone chips from the Illiac wing of the hip bone and pack them around the joint between the 2 vertebra. As it is my own living bone, the body accepts it and continues to feed it as the bone cells grow together. Approximately 20% of these operations fail because the body just reabsorbs the chips until there are none left.
It took me a year before the Dr. would let me go into the gym. The operation was a sucess and it allowed me to function normally again. Mine was done at Jefferson Hospital in Phila by the head of Neuro surgery.
L5-S1 Partial laminectomy and relief from an arthritic growth that impinged my right sciatic nerve. I would not be able to walk today without the proceedure.
I too do not encourage the hasty decision to undergo such a proceedure, but sometime it is the only choice.
A friend who was facing going under the knife went to a back pain specialist and went through steroid therapy. Good as new...
Another suffered for 18 years before undergoing fusion...she now is pain free.
like Buddy 2 alike.

Best of luck.
L5 Hemi-laminectomy (same as partial). Surgery performed by neuro-surgeon and incision shorter than traditional procedure. Good as new. One of the lucky ones. Doc said I'd never ride horses again and I do it all the time w/ no negataive effects. Guess I should have told him that I have Issues w/ authority figures. tee hee

Statistically, the great majority of all back surguries do not improve the condition; the info is based on Workers' Comp claims.

One can only stand the pain for so long. (Like Jim Miller says, "ask me how I know". I love that line.) And like the others have said, tread carefully in making your decision.

Good luck!!

Amy McCray
Everbody has a different back problem....some are only fixed by surgery. I have back problem...not sure what but there must be some pinching and grinding going on.....I'm 52. I will just mention two words...INVERSION TABLE. I'm sure it is not a cure all for everyone but it has helped me tremendously!!! Good luck Jerry.....

Since we're 'comparing scars', I haven't had the surgery yet, but Marie Drago has. I have a condition that causes arthritic spurs to grow up AND down on the edge of the vertebrae in my cervical spine. Between C1,2 through C4, the spurs forcing the vertebrae out of alignment and causing all kinds of problems.

This is the region before you develop a spinal cord on both sides of the lumbar spine on down. Can you say 'brain stem'?? The brain stem splits somewhere around C4,5, and becomes the bi-lateral spinal cord. One teensy weensy mistake, and the surgeon could nick the brain stem, which controls ALL bodily function, IE: breathing, heart beat, or, even more prolonged damage there can prevent your liver from working, your pancreas, your kidneys, etc.

There was someone on here that had had the laproscopic surgery at Carolina Neurological in Charlotte, but I forget who it was. If you read this, will you please give me the web address of Carolina Surgical?

Not to mention the surgery to correct the 'bow' in my right calf where it was broken in 8 places, and never healed back straight. The Dr in Chapel Hill, who specializes in that type surgery told me to expect to lie flat on my back for +/- 6 months. This condition prevents me from any long-term standing or walking, as the right leg(calf) is 1 1/2" shorter than the left. You can imagine what that does to your back...

Gettin' older ain't for sissies!
Thanks folks,
Doctor just called with the results of the MRI, L5-S1 ruptured protruding disk.
I have already been doing the medication and chiropractic routes and it has not helped. I looked up the endoscopic Microdisectomy procedure and it seems that there is alot of successes with this type of surgery. I'm on 2 percocets for pain and it still doesn't help. I'm walking bent over, with crutches at this time when I can walk. It seems at this point surgery is the only option left. The envasive 6 inch general anesthesia route I wish to avoid completely.

It is very difficult to cut moulding, use an underpinner, and cut glass. Needless to say I am pretty bummed out right now, I can't get the work done. This SUCKS!!!!!!
Jerry, L5-S1, Hmmmmmm ask me. I did have a rupture, and my surgeon was great. He showed it to me, and said, when it bulges to here, I'm going in. That is in 1 month or 6, I'll know when you hobble in here on crutches and your whacked out on Darvaset, Perkies, with a Vicodin/beer chaser....

OR, Yoga, loose weight, stretch like he*l, and a good person with needles is not a bad start.

I went back to classes, lost a little weight, stretched like a madman in the morning and night and found a good acupuncturist who reset and de-fragged my hard drive so to speak. My last MRI looked like nothing had ever been wrong . . . untill you look north.

That was the surgury. Bi-Lateral thorasic outlet . . . the first of 23 surgeries from kissing a truck in 1989. I don't ever want to retire again.

Good luck buddy
My first question would be if they intend to rebuild whatever's causing the protrusion, or if they are going to use surgical screws to put everything back in place.(also known as 'fusing' vertabrae)

You got a lot to think about here, so DO NOT be shy asking the Dr questions! After all, YOU'RE paying HIM. Not the other way around. Let's see: if 2 Percocets aren't working, they have alternatives, depending on the Dr. They could give you at LEAST 40 mg Oxycontin, which is 12 hour time-released Percocet. A lot of Drs actually prescribe Methadone tablets. The good thing, if there is, about pain meds is that if you really NEED them, there's not much chance you'll become dependant.

There's also a stick-on patch called DURAGESIC which is a patch you apply to the skin, is transdermal, and lasts around 72 hours.

Best of luck, ol' buddy!
Since you asked about Carolina Neurosurgery here is their website. Click HERE for info about their spinal practices.

They worked on me about 4 yrs ago. I had terrible sciatic pain for about 5 yrs off and on that didn't get better -- tried steroids, chiro, physical therapy, you name it.

My doctor found the pinch (Same as you Jerry, I think) and asked if I wanted Ortho or Neuro. I just wanted it to get fixed and he knew the Neuro guys - sent me to CN&S. They invent stuff like micro-discectomy.

I woke up PAIN FREE for the first time in years and **** near cried I felt so much better. The hard part is the 8 weeks of NO LIFTING. Dr. Finger made it clear - "Don't you dare mess up my work!"

EVERY person's experience, problem and doctor are different. I'm one of the lucky ones, everything worked out. Good Luck and keep us informed.

Well it sucks even more now! Doctor called with my appointment for the nuerosurgeon. OCTOBER 23 that's about a month from now. I can't stand for more than a minute or two at a time, and I need to get framing done at the shop, can't afford to pay anybody to do it and if it doesn't get done won't have a shop to worry about. I know I'm whinning, but even the percocets are not working.

Oh well
Yuck! A month huh? Well Crestwood isn't exactly across the street but if there is anything I can do to help let me know!
If you're a Larson shop, talk to your rept. they will often supply chop or join at length prices for a situation like this. Maybe other suppliers do the same. It wouldn't hurt to ask.

I would also tell the doctor that you cannot wait a month - if that's the best they can do, ask them to put you on a cancellation list and you will take the first appointment that comes open - and be ready to take it, no matter what. I've found that you have to be the advocate for your health - no one else will be....and not necessarily because they don't care - it's because they're overworked too. Good luck.
Jerry, I'm so sorry you’re having such a problem. Framers in San Diego help each other out. Between the suppliers and other framers, hopefully they can help. Some mats cut, some joins, some fits, if I was there, I would help. In fact, a funny story, one time I covered another local frame shop when she picked her husband up from the hospital, he had open-heart surgery. My stockbroker came in for framing. Should have seen her face when she saw me, but it was too late to back out the door. Needless to say, she was embarrassed; I was so sweet, made the sale and then got a new stockbroker. Said she was trying to save money. HA!

Nona Powers, CPF
Originally posted by Jerry Ervin:
And Jerry, if the bottle of pain pills says 'Alcohol may intensify affect',it does. I didn't tell you that though.
I suggest your normal 2 Percocets, and about 6~8 ounces of good Kentucky bourbon. Of course, every time you use that method, it'll make you go to sleep. No downside there. If you ain't awake, you ain't hurting.

Of course when you DO wake up, you might have a bit of a hangover. But by then it'll be time for 2 more Percocets and bourbon. Think you can hold out on that regimen for a month? You know what they say, "No, ah, PAIN!"

Seriously, faced with 2 surgeries, or the possibility of 2, one on the leg and one in the cervical spine, I sympathize with you, and wish you the best results.

I kept calling the appointment line for the spine center and asked if they had had any cancellations, and low and behold my appointment is now Thursday the 30th at 11:30am went from one month to two days!!! The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Anyway, I have a couple of friendly framers helping me out and now my wife is actually learning how to cut mats and frames!.

Thanks for everybodies well wishes I'll post more after I see the doctor.
Good Luck Jerry. Hopefully you'll wake up to NO MORE PAIN.

It's the most wonderful feeling to go from unable to stand to feeling brand new.

LISTEN TO THE DOCS - if they say no lifting for 8 weeks then find a way to do no lifting. Dr Finger was adamant about follow-up activities -- it's the only way to keep from doing it all over again in a few years.

Take my advice - 2 percocets and a shot or 2 of your favorite adult beverage every 6 hours - sleep for the next 2 weeks.

The recognition that it doesn't hurt any more is amazing. I required a bit more work, but was in and out of the hospital in 23.99 hours.

Best of luck and here's to a speedy recovery.

The worst part for me now is the almost total lack of recall from the two months prior to surgery. Vicodin, and whatever it's big brother is. I did framing I don't recall, and took in work that I discovered skwirreled away 6 months later. No clue as to what I was supposed to do with it, but did know who it belonged to.
They probably used a drug called VERSED on you. It has become the 'additive in vogue' with Drs and anethesiologists. It has the very interesting effect of causing the patient to NOT remember the procedure.

It has its drawbacks, though...For instance, Dr thinks, "Ok. Along with the anesthesia, I'm going to give the patient a pain-killer, so he won't wake up in agony. Oh, and while I'm at it, I'll give him a liberal dose of (non-narcotic) VERSED, so he might not even remember waking up, or the pain."

I have a friend who has a Masters Degree, or a whole bunch of degrees after her UNC degee in nursing. She told me that they use Versed ever day, several times, and about 1/2 their patients like it, and the other half never want it again!

My uncle had it for cataract surgery, and practically had amnesia for over a month. When they did the second eye, they used a combination of Demerol and Valium. It worked fine for him. No memory loss at all on Valium...almost total memory loss on VERSED. It's not a drug that gives you a buzz or anything. And heck, if it DID, you wouldn't remember it!