Folks, I need input from the list. I am currently a member of a prostate cancer list forum (had that bad boy cut out a year ago and now am dealing with side effects) and I fully understand from my experience on that list that there are several of you on this list who have life challenges (back issues) much worse than mine. For that I am humbled, and try to be grateful. But back pain hurts.
Short history - LBP diagnosed as grade 1 spondylolithesis in 1978 while in the Army. Experienced a few episodes of muscle spasms and temporary scoliosis due to jumping out of airplanes (remedied with rest, PT and drugs). In the mid 90's herniated lumbar disk and later herniated cervical disk as a result of too much manual labor at the house/farm (remedied with rest and PT). Ortho then said that low spinal fusion should be considered. I opted for "live with it." Currently, however, that option has proven to be daily pain that gradually increases through the day until I become a "grumpy old man" in the early evening (I am 59). Consult with another ortho in Feb 09 resulted in the same recommendation - live with it or have a double vert fusion (L5-S1 and L4-L5).
My question to the list members is - how do you know when the chronic pain has impacted the quality of your life such that surgery is warranted? Herniation shut me down. I could not move. My quality of life was zero. However, this dilemma is different. The degradation of the quality of my life (activities,etc.) is subtle and more noticable by others, more so than myself.
Anyway, I would appreciate comments from others who have faced this decision point.