I'm a generally healthy, active, fit, 41 year old male. I have had 2 microdiscectomies at L5/S1, first in Dec 2008 and then Jan 2009 for a herniated (and then reherniated) disk. My primary symptom was (and is still) on-going right foot pain.
My latest MRI shows residual herniation at L5/S1, and scar tissue surrounding the periphery of the S1 nerve root. I have almost constant right foot pain. I have tried physical therapy for several months, 3 epidural steroid injections, weekly acupuncture. The only thing that seems to help is Lyrica 3 times a day. If I don't take that, the nerve pain is bad enough to interfere all day long and wake me at night.
The neurosurgeon who performed the first two operations does not want to operate again. He thinks the residual disk is too small to worry about and does not want to risk making the spine unstable. A second ortho surgeon wants to do a fusion. (I will not do that.) A third ortho surgeon who I have consulted several times is willing to do a 3rd microdiscectomy without a fusion. He says the L5/S1 level is "inherently stable" and, while he doesn't minimize the risks involved and is generally very conservative about recommending surgery, is willing to do it if I want to, with the knowledge that if it fails, my only surgical option would be a fusion.
Has anyone had similar circumstances? Have 3rd microdiscectomies been successful and relieving leg pain without causing instability? Thank you.
PS - I'm quite active with biking, kayaking, hiking and other exercises. I'm back to the point where I can do these things, I just have constant foot pain of varying degrees. I can probably live with it (although I'm pretty miserable), so it is a trade off between the possibility of finally being free of this foot pain, and the risk of causing other problems or making it worse. Any advice is appreciated.