I know having a bad back isn't *really* a disability, but some days it can sure feel like it. There is no way I'll ever have actual back surgery unless I'm dragged there kicking and screaming, but a few people I know who work in the area of spines and neurology have tossed out the term "rhizotomy" to me as a possible option. I've got a bulging disc and nerve damage. I've Googled the term, and it still sounds scary to me, although the people I know who *perform* rhizotomies claim it's easy and painless, minimally invansive, leaves the patient pain-free, yadda yadda... Has anyone here *had* a rhizotomy or know anyone who has? Some days, I've got to say, the idea of getting myself "nerved" sounds really good...
I had a ruptured disc and a bulging disc which they had identified by an MRI, but the underlying condition was spinal instability caused by spondylolithesis (a slipped vertebra) and scolliosis. Needless to say, I have a lot of stenosis from arthritis as well.
It was a long process in the Pain Managment clinic to identify the nerve branches that had to be lesioned. I went 3-4 times over a period of several months and had depo-medrol epidural injections so they could find out where to lesion the nerves. They did this under an x-ray flouroscope so they could see exactly what they were doing. It was kind of a nuisance because I was not allowed to drive home afterward and I live about 25 miles from the hospital.
At long last they did the RFL. It worked great for about 15-16 months. No pain at all! Then the nerve grew back and it was worse than ever for a while. I have been told that I can have it done again if I want to, but most of my pain comes from arthritis now--the disks have shrunk and aren't really causing the problem. I am managing the pain with ibuprofen and exercise and don't really want to go through the whole process again unless and until there is no alternative. If I couldn't take ibuprofen, I would do it again in a minute.
I hope this helps.
"Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller