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Stenosis Surgery unveils....

1460 Views 3 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  jmtbkr
....that I broke a "facet joint" a while ago and never knew it. some history here:

About two months ago me and a few buddies did an awesome three day mountain bike riding trip. First day was almost 6hrs in the saddle. The second day about 3 1/2 hrs....and about 2 1/2 hrs the final day of riding.
Day one, no pain.
Day two...felt like I pulled a muscle on the first descent and suffered like a mad dog up the ensuing 5.5 mile climb. Ugh.
Day three and I was feeling good again.

Day four, sort to speak, my wife, 2month old, and my in-laws loaded up the car and headed for Death Valley. Drove around there all week, then drove home. By the time we got home we had clocked almost 40hrs in the car driving, and I could barely walk. Leg pain was just nuts!
The pain seemed to be coming through my hip and into my quad. And simply standing on it for more than 15 seconds brought me to tears and I'd have to squat for a few minutes...stand for 15 seconds...squat...repeat about a dozen times before the leg pain would become manageable more and more, but never really go away.
Three days later I realized I had lost the feeling in the front lower portion of the same side, left. Duh-oh, that's not good!
I have seen chiropractors throughout the years for intermittent back pain, but this leg pain and numbness was something else alltogether!
Off to the western Dr. for an MRI.
Three bulging discs, L2-L3-L4-L5-S1.
Short penticles.
Stenosis of L2 and L5.

Met with the Neurologist that came highly recommended from others as he was a no knife kind of guy. He set up a cortisone shot above/below L2 as he felt given my symptoms, that was where the pain was coming from.
After shot, pain went away.
12 days later, it started creeping back, with each day getting worse and worse.
Started a round of Neuronton, a nerve block medicine. Throwing a vicodin here and there in the am to get my day going sometimes.
Two weeks later I was taking 3600mg of Neuronton with minimal success. I mean, I could work all day, but occasionally I'd have to pick up someting off the floor, or look one way or the other suddenly, and POW, major pain in my lower back/hip area.

Met with Neurologist again and he recommended the surgery as he didn't feel I wanted to keep up-ing my med levels any more. I am NOT a pill guy, I hate the idea... So we scheduled Stenosis Surgery for Wednesday the 17th., last Wednesday.

That day couldn't come fast enough I was in sooo much pain.

I come out of surgery and the surgeon was all excited telling me about this broken bone, schrapnal of bone and a safety sack.

In my lay-man terms here's what I understand what they found:

Upon inserting the camera to have a look around they found a sack that was growing, kind of like a cyst maybe. In the sack was fragments of bone. Crazy. They scoped around a bit more and found the culprit. Turns out at some point I broke a 'Facet Joint' and there were broken pieces of bone that instead of being released into the spine area, were grabbed together and my body started growing this safety bubble around them to protect the rest of my body from them. Only problem was, was that the sack was growing bigger and was pushing the disc between L2-L3 in towards the spinal canal, which was already tight with the stenosis.
The surgeon said that even with their narrowest feeler gauge to speak, they could not get it inserted between the vertebrae and nerve. That nerve was strung soooo tight, no wonder I was under a killer amount of pain. The Dr. was surprised I was only using the vicodin occasionally as he figured with that much tightness any small move must have been sending serious pain to the brain.
He said once they took care of the safety sack there was much more play in the nerve cord, but that they decided to take care of the stenosis as well, and that after that the nerves were like spaghetti in a hallway, nice and loose.

I can out of surgery around 1:30, after gong under around 11:30. I was out of bed around 2:30 to go to the bathroom to go #1. Walking.....pain free! WWOOOOTTT!!!

And I sh!t you not, at 3:45 I was WALKING out of the hospital! A-freaking-mazing!!

I am 5 days post op and things are awesome. The back is loosening up and I'm getting around easier and easier every day. Spent an hour and ahlf this past Saturday picking apricots, then another three hours in a kitchen making 35 pints of jam. And besides feeling a little tired, I was good.
Spend hours yesterday hiking around Nevada City watching the big roadie bike race, no pain.
Walking good. Sitting, not so good. Sitting in car seat, not too much fun yet.

Jumped on the mountain bike this afternoon and rode around the driveway a few times. That was about enough though, just didn't feel that stable. I'm probably just being a pvssy though....;-p
Hoping to get back on the road bike next week, and the mtb in another three weeks, with the green light back to full load riding by six weeks out if all goes well.

OK....that's my story.
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Wow - that's some story! I'm glad it's working out for you.

I'm in a similar boat right now. Big herniations at L1/L2 and L2/L3 and a bulge at L3/L4 and another herniation(although not bothersome at all) at L5/S1. And I have stenosis at all lumbars.

I could do almost anything I wanted to do, but sitting was impossible for more than 5 minutes. Just getting to the doctor was extremely painful.

Last week I had my first epidural steroid injection. My pain level has gone from a constant 10 to about a 2 or 3. I've gone back to werk after 5 weeks and I'm able to sit most of the day. Yeah, a vicodin and 800mg ibuprofin makes the first few waking hours *fun*. Then in the afternoon its off to PT then a soak in my hot tub. By 8:30pm I sleep until 6am like a baby.

The healing is going slow, but good. I've been riding my beater bike around the neighborhood for a half hour/ day and am looking to get back on the raod bike in another couple of weeks. I don't think I could takr the strain of pushing my 5" bike on the trails yet, but that will come soon enough.

Take it real slow and easy. You may think you're all better, but your body needs the time to heal. Do alot of stretching excersizes, and try to work your lowr back muscles. My PT has me walking the treadmill backwards, Leg presses from a recumbent position, back presses using only body weight and arm rowing backwards - all excersises desighed to strengthen the back.

Good luck and bset wishes on a speedy recovery.

Oh - and something my father told me long ago....don't get old!
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A follow up:

For the past two and a half weeks I've been putting in about 150-200miles a week on the road bike again and started throwing in hills too.

this past Sunday I went out for my first mountain bike ride. I was pretty apprehensive about it at first as I didn't want to get stuck on something real steep and try grunting it out and blowing up my back.
But I eased into it paying attention to my back for the first 20 minutes....after that I was going for it. Taking the harder tech lines and huffing and puffing my way around the park.

I still get some sort of weird 'pre-pan' sensations in the front part of my hip....kinda hard to describe. It's like it's the feeling you get just a nano second before the pain hits. But so far it's been pain free. My Dr. told me that the nerve is as big as my little finger and that it had been stretched/pinched for so long that now it's hyper sensitive now that there's nutrients and blood flowing through the thing again. I guess it's normal to have 'ghost pain' for up to a year.

I'm stoked to be back on the dirt again and feeling so good. Well, my fitness is shot, but my mind is in tip top condition!
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Great news!

I've been on my roadie for the past month - about 100mi/wk. For me, spinning took the load off my back when climbing. Don't try and touque it up, spin.

I did my first MTB ride today with no problems at all. In fact, all the road riding has put me in better shap for MTB than before I went out.

I had two rounds of epidural shots. Amazing stuff. Pain is all but gone. My back does get a bit 'tired' at the end of some days, nothing the tub can't cure:)
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