A 40 year old male 3 level discectomy follow up

I suffered from low back pain from the time I was in High School. As I aged the discomfort became pain and by the time I was thirty-nine I was unable to participate in any physical activity. I had pain that radiated into my left leg and was unable to bend or lift even small items without feeling pain in my back. I had developed a sensation of numbness in my left calf that lasted for almost a year.
            I have two small children and could not sand the fact that I just was unable to get down on the ground and play with them. The constant pain kept me on edge and I became very difficult to be around.
            Over the years I had been through various courses of therapy and taken many medications but all to no avail. I finally decided that I had reached the point of no return and was willing to do anything to regain even a slightly normal life.
            MRI’s showed that at the age of thirty-nine I had the back of an eighty year old man. The scans showed very obvious herniations at L4-5 and L5-S1.
            I saw various doctors including both orthopedic surgeons and neuro-surgeons. They all agreed   that the only solution for me was a multi-level fusion. This procedure would include four to five days in the hospital and a very lengthy recovery. Included in that recovery would be approximately two months in a hard plastic body brace.
            I met with Dr. Katzell who suggested that a multi-level fusion was to extreme a measure for someone my age. He explained that medical technology is advancing very rapidly with regards to spine surgery. He told me that there were numerous procedures on the horizon that would be far superior to a fusion. He further explained that a fusion is irreversible which would keep me from being a candidate for any of those future procedures.
            Dr. Katzell suggested that I undergo discography so that we could get a better idea of what was going on inside my back. This procedure would give a much more accurate picture of what was going on because it is not static like an MRI. I expressed concern over undergoing a procedure designed to generate pain however, I went forward with it and found that I suffered minimal discomfort and was fine the next day.
            The discography revealed that I in fact had three herniated discs instead of the two shown by the MRI. Dr. Katzell recommended that I proceed with an Endoscopic Diskectomy.  He told me that this procedure had a good chance of alleviating enough of my problems to get me through to the future technology. He said there was also a chance that this procedure would resolve my problems and I would not need any further surgical intervention.
            I proceeded with the surgery on December 17, 2003. The procedure was performed at the surgical center adjacent to his office. The staff at the center was very kind and the facility was state of the art and spotless. I was in and out of the facility in less than four hours. I was able to get in the car by myself and slept in my own bed that night.
            On December thirtieth I began physical therapy and improved almost daily. The numbness in my leg is long gone and I am able to play with my children. I still suffer from a muscle spasm in my back on occasion but overall I am new man. I can now do small jobs around the house without having to suffer for days afterward. The most important thing is that I am able to enjoy my family without constantly worrying about hurting myself.
            I was able to have this kind of recovery without subjecting myself to a fusion. If I had not gone forward with the discogram I would never have even known about the third hernition and would have only been made worse by the fusion.
            I have every confidence in Dr. Katzell and would highly recommend him to anyone who is suffering from back pain. Dr. Katzell also specializes in knee and shoulder surgery as well as hips. I believe that he saved me from undergoing a very complex surgery that would not have helped me. He performed an outpatient procedure that gave me results I could only dream about.

Back