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  1. #1
    aka: Bucky Fikes
    Reputation: Oh My Sack!'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Lumbar Surgery - My turn under the knife....again! Laser Spine Inst / Conventional?

    Nearing my 5 year recovery anniversary next Super Bowl Sunday for my Cervical Spine Fusion w/plate. Even before this event, I was suffering with low back pain, enough to start dealing with a Pain Mgmt doc, P/T, drugs, blah-blah and the "No Surgery For You!" mantra, at the time. I have been battling this ever since and it has literally been life changing in my ability to work and do day-to-day things without paying the price of chronic, non-stop, sometimes debilitating pain. The last 4+ years I've been riding. I started as recovery for the neck thing and never stopped. Riding as been a huge part of my pain management. It used to relieve it significantly but now, not so much. In fact, it's aggravating it. The last 4 years has been me in a semi-retired state, spending my days trying figure out and then doing the best physical activities to get relief. I am one grumpy bastard.

    After pressing the issue, I finally got another MRI done and have been referred to a Neurosurgeon which I have had 1 consult where we reviewed my MRI. In some aspects, I'm "not that bad" on the imaging side of the coin. However, the reality side of the coin (my back and pain) says different. The brunt of my condition focuses on L4-L5. Annular bulge/osteophyte complex and ligamentum flavum and facet hypertrophy leading to moderate central stenosis. This has become worse since my MRI 3 years ago. My facet arthropathy has moved into the "Severe" category at that same L4-L5 level. For the last 4 years, I have been having Radio Frequency Ablations (Nerve burning) and that was helping, but not so much, now. I'll have another one in a week or so. Things are worsening and I'm feeling it. Enough to have kept me off my bike for nearly a month due to both pain and serious motivation loss knowing what I'll be dealing with pre and post-ride. THIS IS NOT GOOD NOR ACCEPTABLE.

    At first the doc gave me the usual "non-surgical" suggestions until we got on the same page with all the riding I do, some gym activity, past P/T, and then he sort of gave in suggesting that surgery would be the option. In his initial suggestion, standard open back laminectomy and fusion of this 1 level. I see him in 5 days to discuss further and get more questions answered as he had me do a series of flexion x-rays which had never been done in the past. Question to those here that have been this route with traditional open back surgery, what was your recovery like? How much time before you were back on the bike? Complications?

    Has anybody been through the Laser Spine Institute? I have been in contact with them and they have seen my MRI and have determined that I would be a candidate for their procedures. I've done a fair bit of homework on them and it seems once you cut through the marketing hype they use to keep their business model moving, their processes are successful and recovery times really good due to the more endoscopic nature of their procedures and no "cutting" of muscles. So far they're suggesting NO fusion. They would go in and correct the annular bulge with laser treatment and also clean up the facet arthropathy. Without doing a laminectomy and fusion, I'm not sure yet how they deal with the stenosis aspect of my case. I'll be talking about that with then soon. It will cost me more. How much, I don't know. I have pretty damned good PPO insurance but they are "out-of-network" with all insurances and I don't have numbers, yet. I'd also have to do 5 days in Scottsdale, AZ for the procedure. It's a long drive but not a deal-breaker for me. Anyway, anybody have ANY experience with Laser Spine Institute? I'd love to hear any good/bad thoughts on the subject.
    Always ride with a purpose.

  2. #2
    Nothing seems to kill me
    Reputation: CUP-TON's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    No dealing with LSI. But I feel your pain, my brother. I have had back issues since my teenage years and have been laid up more times than I care to mention. I have had so many MRIs, Xrays, Cat scans and even Ultrasounds over the years and all I end up with is "Not really seeing anything that would cause you pain, so here ya go, have some opioids and call me when you wake up in 6 to 8 weeks. I have not been to the doc in over 3 month because all they want to do is jack needles in my back and feed me pills. Neither of which help or do I care to take part in.
    And like you, biking used to help. But for the last 1.5 seasons it has limited my ability to enjoy living. Where I used to get at least 50-60 miles a week, I'm lucky to get half of that. And epic 30-40 mile rides that I love so much have been put on hold.
    I do have some good days. But like yesterday afternoon, I was in so much pain I felt like I was going to vomit and pass out.
    Sorry for the commiserating. Keep us in the loop on how things turn out and from one old grumpy bastard to another, Good luck.
    Hello, my name is human and I came down from the stars.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    I feel for you too. I've had two micro discectomies (sp?) For me the first surgery came quick. Second one was after 1 year of being on narcs, other meds physio and what ever else. I even went for 8 spinal injections. Finally second surgery. Ever since then I've been good, not great I have on and off numbness in my left foot. I occasionally get back spasms. The worst just this Saturday. I was practicing my bunny hops in front of my wife and kids. On my last one the moment I pushed down on the fork and started to pull back my whole lower back froze. I haven't been able to do much since. I'm not trying to hijack your thread just saying keep your chin up and recover well.

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