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Re: [RC] and what about back surgery? - melanie . o

I am speaking from the other side of the issue.  I had back surgery and it is the BEST thing I ever did!
Now, let me qualify that by saying that my case was unusual.  I blew out my L5/S1 disc (the lowest one next to the tailbone) in a work-related incident when I was 28 years old.  It was a 4 out of  5  on the herniation scale.  I was otherwise healthy and in great shape, with no previous back problems.  They tried PT and I tried chiro but it did not work, so I went in for an open discectomy.  Yes, it was major surgery (they had to open up my back, pull back all the musculature, drill through the bone, etc) I was in bed for a month, in PT for 8 weeks, off of riding for 6 months.  BUT, I was free of the excrutiating pain that was ruining my life.  Yes, now I get a little stiff in my lower back, but riding actually seems to help that, as does yoga.  The only other issues I've had is that nerve damage left me with one calf that is slightly smaller than the other and the occasional charlie horse in that calf.
I reinjured the same disc about 5 years later and went back into my surgeon thinking I needed another surgery as I could hardly walk.  He told me to go away and not come back unless I could not walk at all as he would not operate on the same disc twice.  I did a few months of PT and it healed right up.  It was not as severe as the first injury and was directly related to the weakened condition of that disc.  It's a reminder that I need to keep my back fit.
My doctor told me that only 5% of back injuries require surgery, the other 95% heal with PT, chiro, accupuncture, and/or exercise.  But tell your friend that surgery, if necessary, is not the end of the world.