My friend that I went to nursing school with just called me and she is very upset. She has disk desiccation of L4 and L5. She was helping to move a pt when she got severe pain in her back that is now radiating down her leg. She was being seen by an orthopod but he is now refering her to a spinal specialist for further treatment. I guess I am really at a loss cuz I don't know what to tell her. She is in a total panic because she LOVES bedside nursing and is afraid that she won't be able to do it any more. Does anyone have any info on this? The only thing we could find is that the disks just dry up. I feel so bad for her, we've only been nurses for 6 months and she is only 24 years old. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Jun 25, '03
I had a badly herniated disc at L5-S1 causing really bad sciatica.
There was several things done that helped. Spinal steroid injections. Physical Therapy. Ultimately I had a microscopic discectomy which did wonders for me. It was done as outpatient so, I just spent one night in the hospital. I now back to doing everything I could before the disc herniation. I am more careful now, but I can enjoy life again.
Also, surgeons are now working on implanting artificial discs in the back. It is new to the US, but who knows what will happen a couple years down the road.
Jun 25, '03
About 5 years ago i suffered a ruptured disc at L4/L5. I had L4 radiculopathy and also found i had L5/S1 Spondylolithesis which wasnt treated. I was working as a nurse then, but that isnt what caused my injury. I was flat in bed for a month prior to surgery and was doing good to get to the bathroom. I had surgery the day before thanksgiving, came home thanksgiving day and didnt go back to work till the end of February. Healing from this is a slow process and at one time i felt like i had reinjured my back just as i thought i was starting to feel pretty good. Doc told me that was the usual course for healing with this surgery though.
It was the best move i made. I havent had any problems with my back since. I have to be careful how i move occasionally, especially if i am tired, but it hasnt restricted my working. I would do it again to get rid of the pain of the ruptured disc. I also had a floater that was pinching the nerve at the spinal cord. Had i waited much longer to have it done, doc said i would have formed scar tissue between the spinal cord and vertebra and i would have had severe deficits that would have prevented me from doing a lot of things.
Neuro surgeon did mine,, i wouldnt have traded him for another doc for anything.
Good luck to your friend. The outlook is promising, if she doesnt wait to long.
Jun 25, '03
I had my first (certainly not my only or last) back injury within the first 6 months of my nursing career. I have been lucky and none of my injuries have left me with a permanent injury. I can't say how your friend's back health will turn out, however I can say that the wonderful world of nursing offers many opportunities to nurses who can no longer lift. Even nurses who prefer bedside care.
Jun 25, '03
My initial back injury was over twenty years ago as a nursing student. Twenty years of intermittant back problems, but nothing serious.
Woke up in January unable to walk for three days, my leg would give out of me. Two more similar episodes (each one progressively worse) despite medical therapy and physical therapy. Finally got to see nuerosurgeon last week in May. Three days later microdiscectomy. Best thing I ever did. No questions. The pain is gone, it was so good post op I didn't need pain meds because the pain was so much better than before. Would do it again in a heart beat. Still in the beginning of recovery phase.
Lots of good info on web about herniated discs. Mine was L5-S1.
Disc bulges out and presses the nerve against bone. Mine was ruptured as well. Think of a jelly filled donut, with the jelly oozing out. Do a google search.
Jun 26, '03
The doctor told her it wasn't a heniated disk, the disk simply dried up. He told her it would be much better news if the disk had herniated. Thats what I meant, I never heard of a disk drying up before. i guess its some kind of a progressive disease process.
Jun 26, '03
I have never heard of this, but I had a herniated disk at L4/L5. I left it for so long before going to see about it, that I have permanent nerve damage. I had a microdiskectomy then 6 months later had a spinal fusion. I have been told that I can never nurse again. Now I am on disability. It is sad because I really loved nursing. Hope your friend gets better soon.
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