Tarlov Cyst and NO SURGERY -- one year later
Last year this time I joined all Tarlov Cyst support groups I could find online and posted some messages to seek help. Now I am no longer suffering (I'd say I am 95% free of pain), and would like to share my experience to encourage anyone out there who is as scared as I was last year. The most important thing is: I did NOT get any surgery and have not been taking any pain medicine, not even over the counter Advil, for over eight months.
I have had many diagnosed back issues: spondylolisthesis (unstable spine), spinal stenosis, herniated disc, etc. for several years, but last year this time I developed different symptoms: burning, excruciating pain in the sacrum area. I could not sleep, could not sit, could not get out of bed without sharp pain. I did a lot of Internet searches and found the Tarlov Cyst symptoms -- everything I felt fit the symptoms people had with TC. (I also read Tarlov Cyst Foundation's description of the disease.) I saw on my MRI reports that I have several large TC on S1-S2, and believed at the time that my TC had gone symptomatic. I read many stories posted on these sites and was very depressed by the bleak outcome. I went to see several doctors experienced with TC in Southern CA, including Dr. Larry Khoo, and seriously considered going to Kansas to visit Dr. Feigenbaum or to Baltimore to visit Dr. Long. After learning what possible adverse effects the surgery could have on me from Dr. Khoo, I decided not to go for any form of surgery, not even spine fusion, which was recommended by several neurosurgeons. And now I feel so lucky that I didn't go for surgery since I am almost back to normal.
Here are a few things I found the most helpful and wish to share my experience with all of you who are still suffering:
1. Taichi -- it teaches me to relax my muscles
2. Viniyoga -- it helps me train my back muscles in a very gentle way
3. stretching my psoaz muscle (I use an ankle weight to stretch, ten minutes on each leg, every night before going to bed)
4, water therapy -- drink ten glasses of water a day (you can find the information online)
It takes time to recover. I think it took me at least six months to feel that I was on the mend. Now I am exercising 20 hours a week, I go hiking every weekend, and am back to teaching and research. I could not have believed this was possible last year during my worst period. I hope to share my experience and encourage you to try these alternatives, not to think of surgery as the only way to deal with your pain -- and to consider that TC could really be what many doctors have been saying: they are not the cause of your problem.
I only use this email address to subscribe to TC groups. I am sorry that I won't be able to check this address much. Good luck to all of you who still believe that TC needs surgery.