I am a 22 year old college athlete(well former now that football season is done). I have had two small herniations at the L4/L5 and L5/S1 level for a few years. I have been able to go 4-6 and sometimes 8 weeks feeling pain free and then something would cause a flare up that would cause me to take it easy for a few days, but that was it. This year I started to get some pain into my leg which was a new symptom and the back pain/stiffness was more frequent. I had an MRI done in September which showed that the disks were pretty much unchanged so I had an injection to help get me through the season. After the season ended I started to try and really focus on losing weight and strengthening my core and back muscles (both formal and informal PT) to hopefully provide a long term fix. In December I started to get pain into my butt and hip but the doctor said it was the sciatica and the best thing I could do for it at this point was therapy and rest. So that's what I basically did, although I did play a few games of basketball. Last week while sitting at the library I started to have extreme leg pain and foot numbness that I have never had before, and I do not know what brought it on. After getting another MRI it showed that my L5/S1 disc had ruptured and was compressing my sciatic nerve pretty good. The doctor told me that he would do surgery but it was up to me because these things can resolve themselves sometimes, but it could take up to 6 months. I live a very active lifestyle and want to continue that way. I have been avoiding surgery because I have an idea in my head that once I get surgery on my back, I will have to give up alot of activity. However, the nonsurgical approach has not really been able to keep me as active as I would like to be. I guess I just want to hear from people who have done it both ways, surgery and no surgery, and see how active they have been able to be, and if people have been able to get back to their original activity level.