Hey guys! First off this is an amazing site with a wealth of information, so thanks to all of the contributors!
I might as well go through my story to give folks a good idea of what's going on.
As stated in the title, I'm only 23 years old. In hind sight, I've had bouts of lower back pain on and off for maybe five years. I've always been somewhat "reckless" in dealing with pain and generally continued about my normal way of life letting things slowly resolve themselves. I'm a very active individual and love participating in things like mountain biking, multi-day backpacking trips, swimming, etc.
Upon graduating college I began working conservation jobs. I started at the Grand Canyon National Park in May of 2010 working with the vegetation program. I was essentially a landscaper. Right around that time I started feeling a nagging pain in my lower back that was pretty persistent. It felt like it could be a nerve thing, but it never started to radiate out of my lower back. It was never at an unmanagable level as I was able to fully participate in the activities I love. I continued working there until December.
In February I started working on the Pacific Crest Trail. This position was more similar to construction work with lots of heavy rock work and use of hand tools all day 10 days at a time.
Somewhere towards the end of February my pain started to migrate away from the spine towards my hip. This should have been a sign, but I continued working hoping things would resolve as they always had. In early March I found myself with debilitating radiculopathy down my left leg.
I started seeking chiropractic care along with Physical Therapy. Once we were able to get the muscles to calm down, the chiropractor realized it was potentially a disc issue and sent me for an MRI. The MRI revealed an 8mm protrusion on L4-L5 and possible bilateral pars defects of L5. The pars defects were confirmed by a CT scan 2 weeks ago.
Since the injury I've been religiously doing PT exercies. I'm in very good shape and my core is the strongest it's ever been.
I've had 2 cortisone shots. One was a standard interlaminar ESI and three weeks later I had a Transforaminal injection on L4-L5. Both provided about 10% relief for 1 day.
I'm 3.5 months out and have no significant progress. I'm completely frustrated with the injury and feel like I'm missing out on my "glory years". I just want the pain to be at a more manageable level so I can start living my life as fully as I was. With all of the positive literature out there for microdiscectomies, I've made the decision to go forth and get the procedure done. I've found a neurosurgeon with whom I am extremely comfortable. He's very down to earth and spent 50 minutes going over my MRI with me and another 50 minutes going over my CT scan.
When I called to schedule the surgery yesterday I referred to it as a microdiscectomy. The secretary said that he does not perform microdiscectomies. This has me somewhat concerned. Am I looking at more of the traditional "open discectomy"? What does this do to the healing process? From what I understand there would be more muscle damage. All of the research that has made me comfortable with this procedure was for a microdiscectomy.
The procedure was described as ~1.5 inch incision where my doctor will be using glasses similar to a jewelers glasses. He said I'll have a post op appointment 2 weeks out and start PT. About 6-8 weeks out we'll meet again and "see where we stand". Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I was thinking he meant potentially be cleared or potentially continue PT.
If anyone out there can answer my questions or offer words of advice/encouragement I would surely appreciate it. I'll be sure to chronicle my recovery since I feel I'm a more unusual case due to my age.
Thanks for reading!