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.]