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Spinal Surgery Risks

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cindylou_38 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cindylou_38 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Spinal Surgery Risks
    Posted: Nov/21/2012 at 6:30am

Patients suffering with serious back pain or neck pain sometimes opt for spinal surgery when they believe they have exhausted all options for treatment. The risks and complications of surgery are real and must be considered seriously. We encourage everyone to become informed about therapeutic light laser therapy and non-surgical spinal decompression, before agreeing to undergo the surgeon’s knife. If you are considering spinal (back) surgery to relieve your low back pain or neck pain, you must read on. This article discusses the specific risks and complications of nerve damage.

Spinal Surgery
Spinal surgery of the cervical (upper), thoracic (middle) or lumbar (lower) spinal regions is usually performed to remove any excess bone or soft tissue that may be pressing upon spinal nerves, which govern the functions of many organ systems and extremities. It is undue pressure on nerves that is the source of serious, chronic back pain and neck pain. Any number of conditions may be the cause of the unnatural pressure: bulging or ruptured disc, bone spur formation, bone fragments from trauma, chronic degeneration.

There are different spinal surgery procedures. The most common surgeries are, microdiscectomy, laminectomy and spine fusion.

The fact that spinal surgery occurs so close to the actual spinal cord and affected spinal nerves makes it a very delicate procedure. One false move by the surgeon can cause lifelong nerve damage or even paralysis. Besides human error, there are real and serious risks to spinal surgery that must be understood and carefully considered. Know the risks and potential outcomes before you make a final decision to allow a surgeon to operate on your spine.

Nerve Damage
The spinal cord contains and is surrounded by delicate nerves. Any time surgery is done on the spine, there is risk of injury or damage to any of these nerves. Nerve damage can result in a compromised nerve signal to the body part affected by the particular nerve. Movement or sensation might be affected. In rare cases of nerve injury, there can be organ failure or paralysis. In extreme cases of autonomic nerve injury, the patient can die.

Functional Loss
Nerve damage or injury can result in functional loss. This is a rare but real risk. Depending upon the pathology and problems the patient is encountering before surgery, functional loss can range from mild, transient partial loss of sensation or movement, to a serious loss of basic bodily functions.

Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injury can occur from instruments used during surgery, from swelling, or from scar formation after surgery. Damage to the spinal cord can cause paralysis in certain areas and not others. Injured nerves can cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the area supplied by the nerve.

Paralysis
If during back surgery there is injury to the spinal cord or an infection sets in, paralysis may occur. This is rare, but the risk is still there.

I give thanks to the following link for this information. http://www.backclinicsofcanada.ca/index.php?/backclinics/article/spinal_back_surgery_risks_and_complications_nerve_damage/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Stevie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/21/2012 at 7:48am
Thanks Rose for posting the article.  Surgery is always a last resort, when all other measures have failed.  I will say however, that we seem to see the best results when surgery is done in a timely manner. 

Waiting too long can lead to permanent nerve damage.  So, anyone considering surgery should get at least two opinions; go to a board certified back surgeon----either an OS or a NS----and someone who ONLY operates on backs.  Normally conservative measures include 1-3 series of ESI's (injecting steroids into the affected area to see if reducing inflammation will help and it does in about 1/3 of the population) and Physiotherapy. 

If surgery is done, it is imperative to follow post-op instructions to a "tee".  Stevie

Please donate to help Chronicpainsite.com continue to help others.

My journey with chronic pain began over 30 years ago, while as a young nurse working spinal rehab, I injured my back lifting a patient. I am now fused from L2-S1. I have multiple thoracic and cervical issues. I'm a retired RN/PA and I know and understand the frustrations on both ends of the treatment spectrum of dealing with CP. It's been my goal since 2008, when we started this site, to reach out and help as many people in pain as possible. We will continue the fight as long as we can. Please, if you can help us continue to help you and others, donate. Thank you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cindylou_38 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/21/2012 at 8:02am
Cool  Thanks Stevie great add on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rocken Roni Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/24/2012 at 5:36am
I found with my herniated disc that all treatments w/o surgery had to be done first. I was sent to all the pain clinics here in Alberta before any surgery was considered. Nothing worked and all three back surgeries failed. I was better off w/o any surgeries. can't win for loosen.

Roni


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1st injured Feb, 1997. Was told it was "Soft Tissue" and sent back to work - no X-rays
Late 1997 attended 1st Rehab Program to strengthen back. Mid 98 PCP took me off work. Tried going back to work over the next couple years, mostly off work due to pain.
June 2000, met with OS for first time. Did MRI , damage was L5-S1 totally blown out. Surgery done Jan, 2001.
Another Rehab program late 2001, attempted to go back to work early 2002. Slipped on water, fell flat on back screw fusion broke.
Went to 3rd Rehab program summer 2002.
Oct 2003 - 2nd Surgery, due to broken screw, had to operate from the front.
No improvement. Attended 4th Rehab program in 2004, at time It was decided NO work.
March 2006, had 3rd Surgery, this time fusion and instrumentation from Si to L3.
June 2008 Surgeon finally admitted I had Failed Back Surgery.
August 2009 WCB Finally put me on Long Term Disability
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Merlin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/24/2012 at 6:03am
Oh yes - thanks for putting that up - I know
 
If I was to have surgery on my spine it would be a four tiered laminectomy and not likely to make the pain go away - I had the usual thorough spine scans in 1995 and in 1996 I had an MRI
 
The good news is they found something seriously wrong and the bad news is that they can't do anything about it
 
Now the thing is I have been blessed with long strong legs and these work most of the time - when the pain gets bad then I sometimes find it hard to walk far - but yes - I have a high degree of mobility for my degree of disability -
 
No surgery - they will only do an MRI when they start to consider a laminectomy
 
I would not want to face spinal surgery - I have numb patches in my legs that are a moveable feast - and sciatica - but who would want to lose the ability to walk long distances?
 
Not me - but my pain specialist has said that I have bone on bone at L4/L5 where the two vertebrae are at a strange angle - squishing the disc out and into my spinal cord and I have spinal cord canal stenosis - but I do have all this medication - without which I could not keep going
 
I don't want surgery - the doctors are not going to entertain the idea and most of the time my medication works
 
But sometimes I wonder where the cut off point is - I used to take a lot more medication than I do now - but it has been cut back as far as it can go -
 
And I do not want any more surgery - sometimes it feels like a rock and a hard place
 
Your surgeries failed Roni  - you were better off before them - I shall keep that in mind written in black texta anytime I feel grouchy that I'm not getting the MRI
 
Ah - what's the difference between a laminectomy and a fusion?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Stevie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/24/2012 at 9:27am
Merlin----

Laminectomy/discectomy  is done when there is compression on spinal nerves causing sciatica.  It will relieve that pain if done before permanent nerve damage occurs.  It is done by removing a small piece of the lamina--spongy tissue between the discs in the spine to relieve pressure/symptoms on the injured disc(s). A discectomy is the actual removal of the piece of herniated disc.  This is done now via very minimally invasive surgery with tiny incisions and patients often go home the same day---for an uncomplicated one level disc problem.  The incision may be larger for more extensive disc herniations or other causes of compression.  This procedure will in most cases relieve sciatica, but NOT back pain.

A spinal fusion is a more complicated procedure done by the removal of the disc.  In it's place, there are different types of instrumentation that can be used varying from cages to rods and screws and artificial discs.  Also, most surgeons will use a mixture of the patients own bone taken from the iliac crest or donor bone.  This is essentially a "welding process" so that the vertebral bodies no longer move.  This is done to stop back pain.  Recovery is longer as it takes months for the  fusion to "take".

While we hear about "failures" here as this is a site for CP, there are MANY successful fusions out there.   I am one of the very lucky ones---2 great ones, and would do it again.  However, not everyone's problems CAN be relieved by surgery.  My other spinal issues are not operable.

Please donate to help Chronicpainsite.com continue to help others.

My journey with chronic pain began over 30 years ago, while as a young nurse working spinal rehab, I injured my back lifting a patient. I am now fused from L2-S1. I have multiple thoracic and cervical issues. I'm a retired RN/PA and I know and understand the frustrations on both ends of the treatment spectrum of dealing with CP. It's been my goal since 2008, when we started this site, to reach out and help as many people in pain as possible. We will continue the fight as long as we can. Please, if you can help us continue to help you and others, donate. Thank you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cindylou_38 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/24/2012 at 11:00am
Stevie which one of these surgery's do you think I could he having. My Dr. is calling it acute herniated Disc, without the MRI.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pete81241 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/24/2012 at 4:34pm
i've been through a lot of spine surgeries. it is rare to get major damage to the spine from surgery. there is even sophisticated equipment that warns the surgeon when he is near a major nerve. 
   many surgeons dont explain the risk of scar tissue. to me this should be a major concern because it happens so often. after the surgery the scar tissue can grow almost like a cancer and entangle itself around nerves and ligaments. then if the surgeon goes in to remove the scar tissue he can actually create more of it. some people are prone to it and others are not. unfortunately i developed a lot of it.
   the surgeons always warn about infection and it occurs in 3 percent of the operations. it happened to me in only one of my seven surgeries. but 3% is a lot of infections so it has to be a major concern.....pal pete 
parkinsons disease.men1 genetic disorder. endocrine tumors in pituitary gland and pancreas. carpel tunnel syndrome. spinal stenosis.sleep apnea.vast knowledge of crutches and wheelchairs.borderline diabetic.gerd. both hips replaced. spinal stimulator. 7 spine surgeries/fusions. pain pump trial.Thrombocytopenia. no spleen.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cindylou_38 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/24/2012 at 6:26pm
Thank you Pete, that's allot of need to know information.. The surgery Stevie talked about with plates and screws, is that what I would get for L4-5
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Merlin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/24/2012 at 7:05pm
Thanks for that info Stevie - I think what I would be having at L4/L5 is a fusion - my pain specialist never remembers from one visit to the next I actually passed the exam on anatomy - and calls the surgery a laminectomy - or maybe because I don't have enough lumbar lordosis and this problem is gradually increasing - I am finding it hard to pick things up off the floor - part of that is that my knee doesn't like squatting
 
I have a pick-up stick - this is a wonderful gadget
 
As far as any surgery goes - I have had enough - I have had (gotta count) 2 big deals on my left shoulder, 2 big deals on my right knee, one big deal on my right foot - and 4 big tummy ops - and I am not rushing into anything else - I've had stacks of lesser operations and I am scared of the anasethic
 
So I am just going to wait - I get nightmares under a GA - that's why I liked the epidural when I had my knee done - and I loved the sedation - but I knew I was having surgery and didn't have any weird visions and dreams about what is real and what is not
 
Another thing - I have had all this pain for 17 years now - I have the feeling the nerve damage causing the pain is in a short circuit and not likely to go away with extra trauma
 
But thanks - sometimes I wonder why I don't get to qualify for surgery - but it was a spinal specialist that came in with the good news and the bad news - so I am stuck with oxycontin for now - it seems
 
Geez - I hate oxycontin!!Ouch
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pete81241 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/24/2012 at 7:17pm
hi rose...its impossible for anyone to know that especially if you havent even had an mri. sometimes the surgeon doesnt even know until he looks inside you. a fusion might be necessary if the spine isnt stable. you dont want to have the nerves decompressed and then have things collapse in a month. two of my seven surgeries were fusions. your surgeon may have a better idea after the mri. my neuro surgeon was very careful and he had me go through an mri, ct scan and mylogram before doing the 4 level neck fusion. that was my most complex surgery but it was actually my most successful because i have a lot of strength left in my arms. as long as i exercise i am almost pain free. if i dont exercise i get tons of pain.......
   maybe you will luck out and not even need surgery. but i can imagine how worried you must be. the good thing is i think you are thinking positive. that can make a difference .....pal pete
parkinsons disease.men1 genetic disorder. endocrine tumors in pituitary gland and pancreas. carpel tunnel syndrome. spinal stenosis.sleep apnea.vast knowledge of crutches and wheelchairs.borderline diabetic.gerd. both hips replaced. spinal stimulator. 7 spine surgeries/fusions. pain pump trial.Thrombocytopenia. no spleen.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Merlin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/24/2012 at 7:28pm
Hi Rose
 
I had to take a look at your signature - you do have a lot of problems in your spine!!
 
Nearly everything useful was in your post - I can't think of adding anything more
 
Except that I cringe when a sporting fan gets a serious injury and has immediate surgery - lots of rehab we don't hear about - and gets back into the game for more punishment next season
 
The favourite football game around here is Australian Rules - and these guys with their fantastic legs and neat little butts are our modern gladiators - and I use that term because they keep coming back for more, are a slave to their bodies and keep the masses occupied whenever there is a match on
 
I have to thank them for their sacrifice - orthopaedic surgery has come a long way since my first shoulder surgery - (decompression) in 1986
 
It's so lucky we have a sensa humour - where would we be without it
 
Keep up the broiler pan therapy Pete - I did that last week - I finally needed to grill some chops
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rocken Roni Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/25/2012 at 5:12am
Rose,
I hope you get your MRI soon so you know what is going on in your back. sorry you are in so much pain.
I sure like the little photos you post around the site, they're really cute.

Roni


Please donate to help Chronicpainsite.com continue to help others.

Until one has felt the Love of an animal,
a part of their Soul remains Unawakened.

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1st injured Feb, 1997. Was told it was "Soft Tissue" and sent back to work - no X-rays
Late 1997 attended 1st Rehab Program to strengthen back. Mid 98 PCP took me off work. Tried going back to work over the next couple years, mostly off work due to pain.
June 2000, met with OS for first time. Did MRI , damage was L5-S1 totally blown out. Surgery done Jan, 2001.
Another Rehab program late 2001, attempted to go back to work early 2002. Slipped on water, fell flat on back screw fusion broke.
Went to 3rd Rehab program summer 2002.
Oct 2003 - 2nd Surgery, due to broken screw, had to operate from the front.
No improvement. Attended 4th Rehab program in 2004, at time It was decided NO work.
March 2006, had 3rd Surgery, this time fusion and instrumentation from Si to L3.
June 2008 Surgeon finally admitted I had Failed Back Surgery.
August 2009 WCB Finally put me on Long Term Disability
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cindylou_38 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/25/2012 at 5:46am
Thats what it is. I am so scared, I am planning whats going to happen if I get surgery. I want to know what will they do. I will need help. Guess I just wait and see. Yeah Roni I hope I get in soon to.
Merlin I am sure there is more I could write. lol CTS tennis elbow migraines over weight........
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Stevie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/25/2012 at 7:50am
Rose,

If your pain is strictly sciatica and NOT back pain, you most likely only need a laminectomy/discetomy.  One thing that many surgeons do after the MRI, is flexion and extension X-rays to check on instability in your spine---to see if when you bend forward and backward the vertebrae are slipping.   In that case a fusion would be the way to go.  Also, the degree of DDD needs to be looked at.  If there is literally no disc material between vertebrae, fusion would make more sense.

Years ago, I had a laminectomy/discectomy done on L5-S1.  It stopped the sciatica, but then horrendous back pain started.  The herniation had been so huge that there was literally no disc material left between the vertebrae.  So they had to go back in and fuse it.

Merlin, after 17 years of pain, I seriously doubt the pain would go away.  So, no surgery at this point-----something that may have helped you years ago.  Stevie

Please donate to help Chronicpainsite.com continue to help others.

My journey with chronic pain began over 30 years ago, while as a young nurse working spinal rehab, I injured my back lifting a patient. I am now fused from L2-S1. I have multiple thoracic and cervical issues. I'm a retired RN/PA and I know and understand the frustrations on both ends of the treatment spectrum of dealing with CP. It's been my goal since 2008, when we started this site, to reach out and help as many people in pain as possible. We will continue the fight as long as we can. Please, if you can help us continue to help you and others, donate. Thank you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Merlin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/25/2012 at 7:57am
I think so too Stevie - none of the doctors who are on my case have ever doubted the severity of the pain - and the word one sports specialist used was horrendous - my GP thought that was emotive
 
It's 1996 since I had that MRI but no way can I get my pain specialist to order a new one - but as you say - the time for surgery for the pain has long passed
 
I think I turned a point during a tough stage I had a few weeks back when I questioned the value of a life with so much stuff in it - I value my life - but I started to ask - not why? - but rather - what purpose?
 
I was on the path of wisdom from my 30s - so I have had a long time to learn some - it is not easy learning wisdom but it is a gift beyond price - the cost of getting it is high - but no where near what it means to gain it
 
How terrible to have lived a tough life and not learned from it - this would cause bitterness - I think
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cindylou_38 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/25/2012 at 1:48pm
Stevie its pain in lower back at tail bone area and some in the middle also and syciatic.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Stevie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/25/2012 at 3:43pm
Rose---

In that case, I would be thinking fusion.  I am wondering if you can get some flexion/extension X-rays done also, and faster than the MRI---which you also need.  But, with that kind of back pain, only a fusion is going to help that.  You have just one level (I hope) that is affected.  The rate for a good outcome for one level is generally thought to be 80% if all goes well.  Like I have said, I've beat the odds twice and that's what I am hoping for you if the health care system will get with the act and not let you down.

Please donate to help Chronicpainsite.com continue to help others.

My journey with chronic pain began over 30 years ago, while as a young nurse working spinal rehab, I injured my back lifting a patient. I am now fused from L2-S1. I have multiple thoracic and cervical issues. I'm a retired RN/PA and I know and understand the frustrations on both ends of the treatment spectrum of dealing with CP. It's been my goal since 2008, when we started this site, to reach out and help as many people in pain as possible. We will continue the fight as long as we can. Please, if you can help us continue to help you and others, donate. Thank you.
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Stevie your so smart.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Stevie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/25/2012 at 6:54pm
Not really Rose. I have spent my adult life in health care and as a patient with CP.  I have learned more in the last 4 plus years doing this site, then I ever did as an RN or at Duke in PA school.  I have gained more knowledge every single day from our members then from school. Learning is a treasure.  Despite CP, we are able to find our way to our best lives possible, and to be able to pass this knowledge on is priceless.  Thanks hunWarm-Fuzzy

Please donate to help Chronicpainsite.com continue to help others.

My journey with chronic pain began over 30 years ago, while as a young nurse working spinal rehab, I injured my back lifting a patient. I am now fused from L2-S1. I have multiple thoracic and cervical issues. I'm a retired RN/PA and I know and understand the frustrations on both ends of the treatment spectrum of dealing with CP. It's been my goal since 2008, when we started this site, to reach out and help as many people in pain as possible. We will continue the fight as long as we can. Please, if you can help us continue to help you and others, donate. Thank you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Merlin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov/25/2012 at 7:00pm
That's wonderful Stevie
 
When I was tutoring I learned far more from my students than I did in my own subjects - I had to work out how to explain something abstruse - like reading philosophy - and I told one of my students this
 
She was young and didn't believe me
 
I see teaching as enabling - but it enables more than the student
 
A little girl told me once - that she wanted to be a teacher but was afraid she wouldn't know all the answers - I told her that the best part of being a teacher is not knowing the answers - but knowing where to find them
 
I think this is happening here Stevie - you have said you have learned a lot here - more than you did in the academic field - I find this is true for myself
 
And I am still looking up the information on the internet - something I did not have when I was teaching
 
It is enabling, and powerful - and fantastic!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jparsons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan/27/2013 at 5:06am
had spinal surgery myself for spondylolisthesis. made it a lot worse - what works for me now  is advanced muscle reconditioning (AMR)
which releases muscle spasm (often the cause of the PAIN).
see http://labackandbody.com/
regards
John
Dr John Parsons dc
ps if you live in usa you are lucky , can get this treatment - even see Dr Bronk in LA or a neurosoma practitioner (google)

John
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Merlin View Drop Down
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I Donated to CPS 2013-2016

Joined: May/14/2009
Location: Australia
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Merlin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan/27/2013 at 9:15am
Hello John
 
I am really glad that people can get this kind of release of muscle spasm in the States - they certainly don't have it so easily in other areas of pain care
 
What do you do for people in the UK - I am not in favour myself of having my spine and neck cracked unless it's one off - now with my spinal damage I am not likely to have it cracked at all
 
But on the other hand - I did a year's formal study in anatomy and I qualified as a relaxation masseur - which I had to stop because of my own spine - but find using accupressure to be excellent - I practise this on myself and consider it happenstance that I did that year of formal study and practical work
 
What I have found is that with pain killers suitable to the patients physical pain most people will get on with there exercise regime more willingly and well - and will spend less time suffering and get on with things
 
Do you practise accupressure and/or schiatzu and how have patients responded to that - I would be interested to know
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