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We took FIL on a short weeeknd trip 2 1/2 hours from home to visit friends and get him out of the house for a change of scenery. We made stops to get out and stretch and he was fine on the way there. At the hotel that night he began to complain of some discomfort in his lower back / buttocks region. He went to bed early and felt better in the morning but once we got home he could not use his left leg at all and his right leg was weak. The doctor thinks he has a pinched nerve in his spine and we get MRI results tomorrow but he is wheelchair bound now and keeps trying to get up to prove to us he can walk ( which he can’t). Only a matter of time til he falls I fear. I’m wondering if anyone has a senior who underwent spine surgery or had a pinched nerve and what was their treatment protocol? I realize every body is different but can a 90 year old person handle a surgery to repair stenosis?

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My mom has spinal stenosis and been going to a Physician at a Pain clinic for several years. It's a temporary relief for the condition that last several months. They conducted an non-invasive procedure called "radio frequency" on the lower lumbar nerve endings. A MRI was taken that determine the location for the procedure. The treatments were twice a year, but now medicare only pays for one treatment a year. My understanding of the procedure, the nerves are treated. This was chosen over back surgery, moms to old to recovery from surgery plus 85 years old. Talked to a physician about the prognosis out come of back surgery. My mom used used sunrise pain clinic on rochester road in troy mi., just an alternative we used instead of back surgery.
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anonymous484915 Feb 24, 2019
When FIL went from kind of walking to a wheelchair in one day- he was having none of that. He is still in his right mind mostly at 90 and his GP agreed he was healthy enough to tolerate surgery so FIL went for it. He is 3 days post op and has zero pain. PT is getting him up on his feet and beginning to work on leg strength. After 10 days he comes home with what ever home care they recommend. No way to tell right now how mobile he will be. At the very least his pain is gone and at the best he will walk again so good news.
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Choosing rehab is a learning event....doc and nurse kept saying the rehab place we chose was “ aggressive “ in their approach vs our second choice which is a slower type of treatment. I had no idea what that meant. But they approved both of them?
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Blue star,, good luck. I work in a Neuro ICU and I have doubts about a 90 year having outpatient spine surgery for everything you mentioned If he is in great shape and very active otherwise you may be ok... I had to rush my 88 YO mom back from a trip today. rush to dr.. barely able to walk. At this point for her the only thing we had to offer was PT. Some 90 YOs are like 60 YOs.. then go for it! But for my mom, several back whacks already.. she is frail and would not likely survive a major operation . So for now we are using the walker and setting up home PT. I have seen some miracles, and am hoping for one for you. but take advantage of the rehab.. they can do a great job. And you can get some rest to regroup for when he gets home. Back surgery is no fun for youngsters.. even less so for the elderly
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anonymous484915 Feb 21, 2019
Thanks PamZ....
FIL has tolerated the surgery well- so far so good for today - he was unable to walk at all for the past week and that was not a condition he could accept. His GP thinks he could live another 10 years he is in such good shape with body systems! I often wonder: will he outlive me? As I become more weary he gets stronger it seems. Hope PT goes well for your Mom and her mobility returns quickly.
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Saw Neurosurgeon today....FIL having surgery tomorrow. Doc says problem will not get better without surgery and will definitely keep getting worse. He thinks he can clean up the spine enough to get him walking again. Wanted to do outpatient and send FIL home with us and the good old catheter. Then have PT at home after 12 days. I learned from this forum about rehab and Medicare ( thank you!) so I spoke up and told doc I cannot manage the wheelchair and recovery on my own ( DH is beginning a new job next week and cannot help) so I would like to know if rehab is a consideration. He said definitely yes and he would help us arrange that. So now we’re hoping for the best outcome possible and FIL to tolerate surgery as well as he has in the past! I will keep updating for a while in case someone else has a similar situation.
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Thanks everyone for your responses!
The MRI shows severe lumbar stenosis along with some bulging discs and lots of arthritis. He is referring FIL to a neurosurgeon who is very conservative and has experience with elderly spines. Family doc thinks FIL is in great health for a good surgical outcome if the neurosurgeon seems it necessary. FIL wants to pursue with the specialist to decide on a treatment. I’m kind of worried he will not be able to walk again ever. This is more serious than inflammation. His left leg is completely useless and we have to pick it up for him to get him into and out of the wheelchair or bed etc. He is able to use his arms so we encourage him to use them as much as possible. We got an appt next Tuesday with the specialist and I wish it had been today because I can barely manage the caregiving and he is getting weaker every day. We will ask about chiropractic care and other non invasive measures. Sending thanks for those who gave advice and to everyone who commented!
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Why don't you try chiropractic first? My mom and hubby have had excellent results, and both go only as needed.
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Spinal stenosis surgery is a crap shoot at best with as many people worst off after the surgery as better and the rest unchanged. My mother and I both suffer from spinal stenosis. Your FIL's situation sounds to me like inflammation from all the jarring of the road trip. Anti-inflammatories he can tolerate together with elevated legs (bending the legs at the hip while reclined "opens" the spine) and cool gel packs that conform to the body's shape or a heating pad on low may reduce the swelling, relieve pain and restore leg function. After an inflammation episode has started, it often takes 2-4 weeks to get back to "normal", sometimes longer. I usually try to avoid the episode by taking some anti-inflammatories before/during the long drive and using the ice/cool pack as often as practical during the drive. One spine opening position I use is laying with my back flat on the couch/loveseat and my thighs elevated across the couch arm (those big puffy pillow like arm). I also have a wedge to place under my thighs in the bed. Maintaining an "open spine" position with a heating pad on my back at midday makes a huge difference in how well the rest of my day goes. If your FIL cannot tolerate laying flat on his back, he can lay on his side and pull his knees toward his chest, but this position is harder to hold while relaxed than using the wedge.
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A good, competent DR that’s not money hungry will let you know if they think your FIL is a good candidate for surgery.

My mom had surgery for spinal stenosis at age 75 in 2014 because she was in horrible pain, couldn’t hardly walk. She did great after that surgery. So great that she Refused to stay in rehab the 100 free days that she could have. Came home, refused to hire any kind of help. Had multiple falls. Second surgery in 2015 had disastrous results.
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Reply to mollymoose
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I had a laminectomy at 18. Right now, I could have the same surgery on my back and neck but will not because it doesnt bother me. At 18, within 2 weeks I had to walk 10 miles a day for rehab. My recovery was as close to 100% as you can get.

There is a huge difference between 18 and 90. They will never fully recover from surgery and there is a chance they will be worse. I would not do it.
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I would seek chiropractic care before I ever considered surgery.

My niece was scheduled for a hip dysplasia surgery and after 2 chiropractic treatments she no longer needed surgery. Didn't need it in the 1st place, just needed a good adjustment.

Doctors are far to quick to cut us open.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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I can't stand for those seeking advice to be out there in the wilderness. I have not dealt with your issue. Someone has. Hang on.
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