I am a 25 y/o Marine stationed in Southern California. Im looking for advise, opinion, experience, anything really to help me make my decision in how I should proceed with treatment. From what i've seen on this site there seems to be a wealth of knowledge and everyone seems very helpful. I look forward to hearing some of your responses.
Heres my problem...
I have degenerative disc disease with 2 severe disc herniations at L4-L5 and L5-S1 along with sciatica. The sciatica has subsided temporarily due to a couple of injections however the back pain is still very much present. I have tried non-surgical methods to reduce the pain but have had no success i.e. physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractors. I had a discogram a few months ago to determine which level was causing my back pain and was positive at L5-S1.
I have been seeing the neurosurgery clinic at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. I have had several appointments with a Neurosurgeon and yesterday had a second opinion with the Neurosurgery Dept. head. Both have recommended a hybrid surgery; Fusion at L5-S1 and a disc replacement at L4-L5. At the second opinion the doc told me the fusion is not really meant to treat back pain and it would limit my mobility in the future, but it was the only option; they could go in and do a disc replacement on L5-S1 (the level that is causing my back pain) but if I were to have problems in the future with L4-L5 then the only thing they could do would be a fusion over top of the replacement (which even I know would not be best thing). I am aware that the FDA has not approved a multi-level disc replacement in the U.S., however, I've read on this site and many others that people are getting them.
My main concerns are: maintaining my mobility, recovery time, and future complications. For these reasons I am thinking the best thing would be to get both levels replaced, I don't know how to go about getting this done or even if it is in fact the best thing. The doctor at the second opinion seemed to elude to me that it was. Traveling to Europe to get the procedure is not an option as I don't think the military will cover that.