The Back Story – Part 2
The first part of this story was blogged on March 31st, 6 weeks after undergoing a procedure called Discseel. The procedure was my non-surgical choice for addressing 4 ruptured lower lumbar discs.
As a very brief recap; with significant disc degeneration, the deterioration in my back stability and the increasing levels of pain (that no longer responded to care in a way that provided sustainable relief) led me to seek solutions that were non-surgical. Discseel is the procedure that made the most sense to me.
From the DiscSeel.com website, this is the procedure:
“The Discseel® Procedure takes approximately 40 minutes and is performed in an outpatient facility. You will be offered mild sedation. During the procedure, your physician uses xray fluoroscopy and injects contrast mixed with antibiotic into each disc in the region to precisely identify disc tears. Next, using x-ray fluoroscopy, the two components which make Fibrin (prothrombin and fibrinogen), are simultaneously injected into the tears of your annulus fibrosus, making Fibrin in the disc, sealing your torn and damaged discs. [Fibrin is FDA-approved biologic..] The fibrin will seal the disc tears and promote tissue growth over the following months, thus sealing and healing the discs.” (image also from the website)
It has now been almost 3 1/2 months since the procedure. There remains just one tender spot that correlates to the vertebral area that had developed the largest bone spurs and cysts as a result of disc degeneration. It is not tender all the time. When I do things that include heavy-ish lifting or repeated bending such as yard work, my lower back fatigues. When I peddle all out on the stationary bike, I’m aware of my lower back although I wouldn’t classify it as pain. Perhaps better described as a stronger than neutral sensation. These days I am less willing to lift heavy, awkward objects, but sometimes I do. Afterwards I feel a bit tender, but there are no spasms and I don’t have to spend time lying on the floor like I did prior to the procedure.
It is really difficult to give an accurate measurement of how much better my back feels, it is very subjective. If someone, who has never had back pain before, was suddenly experiencing my back, they might run to the doctor. But for me, it feels pretty darn good! I would say that at this point I am 65% improved from the day before the procedure. This 65% includes reduction in pain levels and pain duration, increased mobility, and better sleep. And given that the full healing process can take up to a year, improvement this much in 3 1/2 months leaves me very upbeat. And if you know me, you know that I definitely wanted 100% improvement in a few days. Ha!
What feels best is that my back is stable. This means that I can bend (a little or a lot) or turn sideways at an angle without being slammed by a spasm or jabbing pain. It means I can withstand the dogs crashing into my legs unexpectedly and not be crippled by it. They knocked me right off my feet last month…I was angry and I yelled…but no back pain repercussions. It means I can sleep 6 – 8 hrs at a stretch as opposed to only 2 hrs. It means that I complain about discomfort some of the time and not all of the time.
A couple of days ago I had an orthopedist try to hide his eye-roll when I mentioned I’d had fibrin injections to address ruptured discs. Go ahead sir, roll your eyes so far back that I can only see the whites of them.
This spring we have done a lot of rigorous yard work. Granted I should have given some of it a miss, but I chose not too. I’m an outdoor enthusiast and love the garden. There were days where the labor was felt very squarely in my lower back, but I am VERY clear about one thing….without the procedure there would have been ZERO yard work happening for me this year. ZERO! So….happy dance! And, if this is as good as it gets, still….happy dance!
So this is where things are right now. The unknown continues to unfold.
[I will post another update around the 6 month mark.]
Hello! How’s the recovery going. Also interested k. The discseal procedure
Discseel made a huge difference in my quality of life. One thing I should have done differently after the procedure is to give myself a few months of healing and then ease into physical therapy to make sure all was balanced and well supported. I did this 2 Yrs after the procedure which was very helpful given the arthritis in my back. Discseel was definitely the right choice for me. So grateful!
Hi, read your back story. Just wondering how you are feeling now that it’s been about 3 years since doing the Discseel procedure by Dr Pauza. Was it worth it? What’s your pain level now compared to before surgery. My husband is contemplating doing it. We’ve read a lot of pros & cons from people so just wondering if you have any advice about doing it. I heard it is unfortunately super expensive. Thank you.
It was absolutely worth it for me. What I would do differently if I could do it over is get into good physical therapy several months before the procedure and also do some after the procedure. I have sent you an email.
Jenny I am curious how you are doing since it has been some time since you got the procedure. I am thinking of getting it done in the next couple months but its really expensive. Still a reduction in pain for you? Have you had any follow up MRI’s or anything? Just curious how its holding up. Thank you for your time.
Thanks for reaching out. I continue to enjoy the relief from constant pain that I endured prior to Discseel. I sleep comfortably and am able to take extended hikes.
What is left for me to manage is some arthritis in one area of my back. It does not always bother me but it definitely flares up when we are doing the big spring and early summer gardening activities.
One thing I did, under the advice of a physician (who does perform the Discseel procedure), was to go for physical therapy. The relief from that was pretty impressive. I was also lucky to have a PT who’d also undergone Discseel. If there is one thing I would recommend most to anyone contemplating Discseel, it would be to go for PT before the procedure, and possibly afterwards as well. How we compensate for back pain has a significant impact on our bodies, and addressing the resulting imbalances is very beneficial.
I had an MRI a year after Discseel. There was no significant change except for one thing. Prior to the procedure I had a couple of large spurs on my vertebrae, apparently a result of the friction between them, and a source of pain. The second MRI showed they were no longer there.
I have communicated with several people who reached out as you have. Some had significant relief, a couple continued to have some discomfort a couple of months after but I don’t know their long term results.
I had some immediate relief but there were some discomforts for me for a few months following the procedure as well. My back felt very different. It’s hard to explain. The biggest difference was that when I bent forward there was an absence of sensation where there had always been pain.
For me the procedure was a win. But to be clear, I still have a back that requires extra care at times. I’m significantly more comfortable.