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  1. #1

    looking for info

    Hello to all, I have been viewing this site numerous times daily for several weeks now and have finally found the courage to join. I was unsure because most of the members have more serious issues than I do, and I wasn't sure how I would be received, but I have a feeling this wonderful group will have good advice for me. Six weeks ago I herniated two discs, L3-4 and L4-5, while stretching too far to put on a sock. The pain in my right buttock and leg/foot for the first five days was unbelievable. I finally went to the doctor and got steroids which reduced the pain to a much more bearable level. For two weeks I went to a chiropractor for adjustments, which weren't helping, so he ordered a MRI. On the fifth day when the pain started to lessen, I noticed I had drop foot. I have been to several doctors who say I need surgery to correct the foot drop, but are hesitant to operate on me because of my weight, currently 377. I was 410 six weeks ago, but have lost weight due to stress and nausea mostly. I have found one doctor willing to operate on me, however he will not give me numbers as to how likely surgery is to cure this foot issue. I would be very unhappy if this surgery caused me to loose bladder/bowel control or worse. The foot drop has caused me to fall several times. I have an AFO but it is extremely uncomfortable to walk in. I am thankful I can walk and I feel guilty for complaining. I know time is of the essence when dealing with foot drop. I can't decide if surgery is worth the risk at my weight, but am very depressed about having to live with drop foot. I don't know if I will be able to go back to being a sleep tech as my leg is weak also. Please let me know of any information you can share or an excellent doctor I can go to. I live in hampton roads in VA. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    I would suggest getting a second or even third opinion ASAP with good neurosurgeons who specialize in spinal surgery, and get surgery if possible. The longer you have compression of the lower cord or cauda equina, the less likely you will get return if the pressure is relieved. You are not a good surgical risk at that weight, so you may need to find someplace that has experience with bariatric patients to get the care you need. You will of course be advised that surgery would be to reduce risks for neurologic damage, and that continued back pain is very possible, even with surgery. Loosing weight will help.

    (KLD)

  3. #3

    reply to sci nurse

    Thank you for replying so quickly. I have been to one neurosurgeon who said he would not do surgery because of my weight. I went to another neurosurgeon who is willing to operate, but I am a little concerned because he didn't seem concerned about the risks all the other doctors are concerned about. I also went to an orthopaedic surgeon who said he would not operate due to my weight. The last doctor I went to was also a neurosurgeon; he said he preferred not to operate on me because he had a low complication rate and preferred to keep it that way, but would if I insisted. He also has not operated on someone my size before. I oddly enough don't have any back pain. I have regained a little movement in my foot, but nowhere near enough to walk normally. How much greater are the risks due to my weight? Should I just learn to live with the foot drop?
    Last edited by Simpler Times; 02-14-2010 at 07:14 PM.

  4. #4

    sci nurse

    Please see my reply to previous post. Thanks.

  5. #5
    Your weight puts you at much greater risks for complications from any surgery. These are complicaitons related to skin breakdown and wound healing, a more complications surgical approach, and pulmonary and blood clot risks in your recovery period.

    I will ask Dr. Young to comment on your situation as well.

    (KLD)

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by SCI-Nurse View Post
    Your weight puts you at much greater risks for complications from any surgery. These are complicaitons related to skin breakdown and wound healing, a more complications surgical approach, and pulmonary and blood clot risks in your recovery period.

    I will ask Dr. Young to comment on your situation as well.

    (KLD)
    Simpler Times,

    You are doing the correct thing by interviewing many doctors and figuring out which one seems to be willing to do it but is thinking about what to do to reduce complications. Surgery is not necessarily as dangerous for obese people as is generally supposed. When I was in medical school, they had a obesity clinic where they did surgery on the stomach. If done well with a good nursing staff, the complications are not so great.

    A minidiscetomy is the most effective and the safest way of removing a disc. At L3-4 and L4-5, the discs are probably pressing on your spinal roots (rather than the spinal cord, which ends just below L1). This procedure makes a smaller incision and removes less bone, thereby enhancing both healing time and pain. You may even want to consider a minimally invasive approach, such as an endoscopic discetomy. Most of these do not take a long time and pose minimal surgical risk. Here is a discussion and comparison of the approaches (Source)/

    You should not be afraid of surgery because you are big. With modern techniques, the surgery will be over with in two hours and you should be out of the hospital within a day or two.

    Wise.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young View Post
    Simpler Times,

    You are doing the correct thing by interviewing many doctors and figuring out which one seems to be willing to do it but is thinking about what to do to reduce complications....
    The doctor below seems unprofessional to me, unless this is how most doctor's think...worried about their 'complication rate' versus the welfare of the patient.
    Quote Originally Posted by Simpler Times
    The last doctor I went to was also a neurosurgeon; he said he preferred not to operate on me because he had a low complication rate and preferred to keep it that way, but would if I insisted.
    Please donate a dollar a day at http://justadollarplease.org.
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  8. #8

    herniated discs can cause paralysis?

    I have been reading various posts and am very surprised to learn that, due to disc herniation, people have become paralyzed bending over to brush their teeth or perform some other mundane task. I also read that herniated discs can become calcified and that can cause paralysis? I have this disc that is causing foot drop and I never considered it could cause paralysis...how scared should I be?

  9. #9
    Foot drop is a type of paralysis. Bowel and bladder control and genital sexual functioning are also at risk with compression of the conus or cauda equina.

    (KLD)

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