Tuesday, September 23, 2014

For those just starting out with back issues.

Sometimes I stare into the wall, drift off, and think to myself, how would I have done things differently? Don't get me wrong, I'm completely happy with my Spinal Kinetics M6-L Lumbar Artificial Disc. I'm referring to all the things that happened prior to me getting my first symptom. All those days lifting weights, riding motorcycles, never really caring about my back, thinking of myself as invincible. Ok maybe I didn't think of myself as invincible, but I definitely didn't give a shit about my spine. In light of this, here's a few pointers for those barely starting out with symptoms:

  1. Get yourself an inversion table. Even if you don't have any back pain, this works wonders! Decompresses the spine and helps the discs breath life (blood flow).
  2. Get yourself some chamomile tea. Drink 2 cups a day, more if you can. Helps with inflammation.

General tips:

  1. Avoid heavy lifting that involves the lower back, especially squats with heavy weights. I can do squats nowadays, but only carrying 40 lbs on each arm and NOT on a bar on my back. The squat bar immediately starts hurting.
  2. Roll out of bed, literally.
  3. Work your abs! I highly recommend P90X3 Elite extreme ab workout. Abs are essential to feeling great.

Any questions? Email me or comment below.

Good luck friends.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

4 Years In

I'll make this short:

  1. I'm 100% able to do this exercise without any repercussions.
  2. I drink chamomile tea twice a day every day. This keeps my lower back muscles in check. No need to anti-inflammatories. 
  3. No alien feeling in my body.
  4. No running and no soccer. This upsets my lower back.
  5. I haven't done any x-rays or check ups as I don't feel the need to do them.
I'm doing great.

As for the people that have emailed me, thank you for taking the time to do so. It brightens my day to read that thank me for writing about this ordeal. I am more than willing to help you guys through this, so don't be shy. Email me at mike.spineblog@gmail.com 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

3.5 Year Update - Facets and Lower Back

Greetings everyone. It's nice to still see people reading the blog. I've seen many comments pop up and they are all people in similar situations looking for a door to open.

First, i'll update you on my surgery: there are no updates. The disc is intact, same position, same height, same everything.

Second, i'll update you on my facets: plenty to talk about here. The disc has permitted motion beyond what the facets usually had, and these have had a level of inflammation that depend on my level of activity. Before surgery, I used to have leg pain. That is gone. Now I have lower back pain directly related to the facets. This inflammation causes my lower back muscles to contract and stay stiff, particularly in the mornings. Regular motion will loosen them up. Massages are a must. I've managed to control it with naproxen (aleve) and chamomile tea every day. Impact sports are a big NO NO. I've had terrible episodes where soccer led me to the hospital to get steroid injections on my facets. If you avoid this, you'll do just fine. I've stopped doing abs and this has definitely impacted my core's ability to hold up. I've started again this week as i've proven that his definitely helps. Alcohol is also a bid inflammatory agent. A night of drinking will lead to a day or two of pain.

As for my general lifestyle, the above paragraph isn't my daily life and thoughts. It doesn't consume me like it used to before surgery. I live a fairly normal life. I've just learned to avoid certain things and integrated certain remedies into my daily life. I'll be looking for surgical facet remedies to pop up in the next 10 years. Meanwhile, I can manage.

This should be a serious consideration for anyone considering artificial disc replacement.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Still Alive!

To those wondering, yes i'm still alive. And i'm doing absolutely great! I've started an ab routine a few months ago and i've toned up incredibly. I also get weekly massages focused on my lower back. Massages are a Godsend with the girl that does my lower back. Strong arms and hands are a must. With this i've managed to not even remember I have an operation. No pain, nothing! All I needed was muscle support and a chill job. Below is a pic of my progress. I have no problems at the gym, I avoid squats and anything that puts pressure on my lower back. But given my new strenght, I can lift more without feeling lower back pain. This includes 50lb dumbbells on each arm for biceps, etc. I'm still being very very careful though. The other day I had to stop doing shoulders as I felt it was too much for my back.

Cheers everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Talked with Pimenta's Office

Greetings Everyone.

Just a quick update. I've been attending the gym without a hitch. Pain is minimal. Body is very well sculptured. I believed abs has helped TONS. My abs are strong as hell and very defined. Do this people, it helps! I also get massages on my lower back every 3 days. Works wonders!

I talked to someone over at Dr. Pimenta's office in Brazil. Very nice people! I asked about the Glyder and they said they don't do this anymore due to it being a trial in Germany. But they had very good results given the right indications. They asked about my condition and specifically asked in steroid injections helped aleviate 100% of the pain. I said they did for 3 weeks. They said PERFECT, we highly recommend the Zyga Glyder as it is minimally invasive and has had good results. They told me to get in contact with them but couldn't do anything further. I told them about my M6 and he said very good, this should work very well with the M6.

Cheers everyone!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Over 2 years now.

It's been over 2 years since my surgery. Disc itself is intact, surgery was a success. I changed jobs now, work at a neat office as manager, so my physical stress levels have diminished. My facets are doing better, but still need work. I'm looking to contact Dr. Pimenta for the Zyga Glyder facet resurfacing but haven't been successful so far. Any help would do wonders!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Facets are giving up.

Alrighty guys. It's been a while, 1.63 years since my L4/5 M6 surgery with Nicholas Boeree, may his soul rest in peace.

So it seems the issue with tightness in my back has been my facets all along. I opted for a Facet Block a few months ago. That stopped working after 2 weeks. I then got another one, which, again, lasted only 2 weeks.

A month ago I opted for a facet denervation. I thought this would do the job, but again, only worked for 2 weeks. I'll be getting a booster denervation next month, but i'm already looking at surgical options here. It's getting unbearable.

I wake up with my facets flared up, EVERY MORNING. My lower back muscles are constantly tight and I was forced to buy a Precor Stretch Trainer, which I now have at home and use constantly.

I asked Dr. Jose Joy, an orthopedic surgeon that fused my mom's back 6 weeks ago. He said i'm looking at a fusion in the future.

But then again, I REFUSE TO FUSE. I'm looking at alternatives, of which I've found 2:

1. The Glyder Facet Resurfacing by Zyga with Dr. Pimenta (http://www.zygatech.com/index.php)
2. Zyre Facet Replacement with Bertagnoli (http://www.dr-bertagnoli.com/facet-replacement.html)

I've seen other companies that offered solution but seemed a lot more intrusive and involved a whole bunch of bone cutting. Those companies have dissolved, like Archus Orthopedics.

Anyways, if anyone has any experience with any of these devices, or has any additional ones you might want to add to the reading list, please let me know.

As to why the facets are failing, it could be the M6 allowing too much motion in that segment. I can't imagine a prodisc or any other ADR given how unconstrained the motion is. At least the M6 is constrained. But anyways, I believe ADR with a facet replacement is the absolute total solutions to lower back problems. My disc hasn't given me any issues whatsoever except for this. Used in conjuction with a treatment like facet replacement, i'd be happy moving forward with my life.

I know absolutely nothing about how these devices work. The glyder seems interesting but i'm not sure how it would attach to the facet.

Here's a pic of the Zyga's Glyder:

Here's a pic of Zyre's replacement:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mr. Boeree has passed away...

I can't believe this. Mr. Boeree was involved in a motorcycle accident and has passed away.

I feel honored to have had his wonderful work improve my life.

There's just nothing more I can say. I have no words.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

MARCH UPDATES! Carnaval, Facet Blocks, etc.

Hello my fellow followers. Bow down to your guinea pig! lol There's a few things I want to cover with this post. But first I wanted to apologize for not updating more often.

It's been 1 year, 4 months, and 10 days. 496 days with my M6-L at L4/5. I've been in contact with Mr. Boeree every so often, updating him on my status and condition, notifying him of pain episodes and following his recommendations. I started having pain a few months ago. Boeree suspected facet pain. And surely, it was! The facet block 4 months ago got rid of it 100% for a few days. It came back very slightly with muscle tension alongside the two main lower back muscles to the vertical sides of the spine. Bear in mind, it came back VERY SLIGHTLY.

And so, I decided i'd go to brazil for carnaval. I'll tell you this, i've NEVER had a more physically strenuous trip in my life. 5 days and I drank 4 liters of alcohol and walked 20km, whilst jumping and screaming and falling and what not. When I got back to miami, NO PAIN AT ALL. Well maybe a 1 or 2 out of 10, but definitely manageable! I was due for a facet block before the trip to get rid of it entirely, but the stupid Dr. Castellanos in Miami cancelled mid-procedure. YES. HE CANCELLED MID-PROCEDURE.

Mid-post rant:  This is him. Don't ever bother going to him. He makes you wait 3 months for an appointment, 3 hours in the waiting room, and then cancels MID-PROCEDURE because he has a meeting. He won't apologize or even offer to re-schedule. I decided to stay quiet and just leave.

Anyways, I went to brazil without my facet block and came back just fine. A week later I start getting the 1-2 level pain (more muscle tension than anything) and I decide to fly to honduras for another facet block. This was 5 days ago and I feel great! The main culprit for my pain: THE RESTAURANT. Don't work in a restaurant if you have back issues.

Other than that, i'm doing wonderfully. There's no limitations to what I can do, but I am a little worried about my facets long-term. Don't let this deter you from considering the M6 though, i'd get a 2nd M6 implant in a heart beat.

Please if you have ANY questions, do ask and I answer back in less than an hour. I am paying special attention to the blog this next week, so ASK AWAY! I get an email every time someone comments so i'll answer ASAP.

Also, congrats to all those that have gotten the M6. Can you please do me a favor and add a link to your blogs in the comments section? Thanks!

And for the grand finale, here are some pictures and new angles from my facet block!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wise words from Mr. Boeree.

Hello everyone. I'm really really enjoying my time pain free! I'm a whole different person. What really makes me comfortable is the fact that my disc is fine, and since i've had it for over a year, I think it's safe to assume that the endplates are permanently fused with my bones. Couple this mentality with no pain, and you have a guy in a great mood! Except this time, i'm conscious of what it means to be pain free and the need to keep it that way (there's nothing worse than feeling pain free and then falling back).

So I got a reply from Mr. Boeree:

Thank you for keeping me posted.  I am delighted to hear that the facet joint injections have been so helpful.

I think it very worth while bearing in mind that there is an important difference between degenerative facets and painful and inflamed facets.  Essentially when we remove a degenerative and damaged disc this motion segment (that is to say one vertebra, its neighbour, together with the discs and the two facet joints and of course all the ligaments that connect them) will not have moved very much.  In addition, as the disc degenerates it tends to place rather more load on the facet joints.  This will almost invariably lead to a little bit of damage to those joints, and this applies essentially to every patient I think who has disc replacement surgery to a varying degree.  Once we remove the damaged disc and replace it with the M6 we tend to restore movement to this level.  Of course it takes time to regain movement in the motion segment but this does come as you build up your activity.  As you do so the facet joints are progressively having to move, where perhaps they have not done so to any great extent before.  This can cause a little bit of inflammation of the facet joints, just as if you were pushing and regaining movement in another stiff joint elsewhere. 

Generally I find, where we need to give facet joint injections, that this will often keep things under good control.  Occasionally you do need to repeat the injections and indeed your interventional radiologist, or whoever did the facet joint injections for you, will probably have said that it is not unusual to give a ‘booster’ set of injections at six weeks. 

Ultimately, if you find you are needing repeat injections every so often the interventional radiologist may want to consider radiofrequency denervations of the facet joints.

I hope all of this is helpful.

I wouldn't mind having these injections every once in a while. If it gets to the point where I have to burn the nerves (radiofrequency denervations) around the facets, so be it. But I think i'll give a shot to the PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections that my doctor in miami recommended as well as continue taking heavy doses of Glucosamine/Chondroitin and Omega 3's.

I'll let you guys know if anything happens. Meanwhile, take care of yourselves and have a happy holiday! I'm heading back home, closing down the restaurant for 1.5 weeks, and enjoying my pain-free back at the beach with my family.

Also, I'd like to publicly thank Mr. Nick Boeree for all the help he's given me personally. He always takes the time to reply to my emails, questions, and concerns without hesitation. His diagnosis of the facets being the problem was spot on, all through merely a phone consultation. He's a great doctor and a great person, and although I hope I never have to see him again, I wouldn't mind sharing a drink with him someday.