I’m a 38 year old male from New Jersey. I herniated my L4-L5 disk playing sports when I was 14 years old. I went through several years of chiropractic, physical therapy, yoga, and acupuncture treatment but nothing stuck. I spent most of my high school time limping and standing in the back of the class because I couldn’t sit.

At 17 (in 1998) I had a diskectomy/laminactomy with an immediate improvement. I spent a few days in the hospital, a week at home on pain killers, went back to my summer job 2-3 weeks after that, and resumed normal teenage life.

At 18, 1.5 years after the surgery, I fell hard playing sports and the disk shifted again. The pain was unbearable. I was on opioids, couldn’t sleep more than 3 hours in a row, and was about to take a leave from college to have another surgery. Luckily the pain subsided and I was able to finish the school year and forget about my back for years.

I played light sports and went to the gym throughout my early 20s. I had a few relapses in my late 20-early 30s, which were handled with opioids and PT. All episodes ended within 2-3 months and I was able to function through them.

At 35 (in 2016) I had a major relapse episode that left me completely immobile. Pain killers and PT were not enough to control or improve it. I ended up in the ER and underwent an emergency laminactomy, which was an instant relief. I was told that I could go about my life, including lifting weights, because “there was no disk left to damage” at that level and all other levels were healthy.

At 37 (in 2018) the same pain flared up again. Another herniation at L4-L5. 2 epidural injections didn’t help (the nerve canal was too tight). PT led to an improvement but minor flareups followed if my activity increased. All doctors involved agreed that disk fusion was the next logical step for short and long term relief. A 3rd laminactomy was on the table, but was unlikely to result in long term success.

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