I'm a 34 year old gal living in the Bay Area (California). I'm currently more or less disabled...otherwise I would consider myself a student and an EMT.
I've had back issues since my teenage years and particularly in my lower back since my mid 20's. In the last 2 years it's become a major burden in my life; This past December my lumbar region kind of took me out of the game and made me a permanent home body. After many X-Rays, several rounds of PT, an MRI, and finally a visit with a great surgeon I feel like I'm getting somewhere.
I'm certain that many of you have been going through a similar journey and wondered why there's so little guidance along the way. I found little help from many of the doctors I've seen and had the most knowledge and support come from others who have gone through this too.
My first doctor insisted on prescribing me endless amounts of Naproxen and PT, and finally with my insistence sent me for X-Rays...but only anterior and posterior views which didn't really show anything significant. More PT and the addition of Tramadol and Neurontin. The next day after the X-Ray reading I scheduled an appointment with a doctor who managed sports injuries and was immediately sent for an MRI. Finally! Look! There's herniated disks and spinal stenosis! Not that I was happy to have the problem but I was relieved to have a better answer for what was causing all the pain. BUT more PT was recommended, this time along side steroid injections. I demanded a reference to a surgeon. I didn't use the referral right away because I wanted to give the steroids a chance but when they didn't help at all the doctor managing the injections recommended more PT.
Fed up I went to the surgeon...who has been the most informative and helpful. He's not only taken the time to examine all aspects of my spine anatomy but he's taken the time to learn what my goals are and how my life is. It's amazing how humanizing it is to be understood.
As it turns out, yes, I do have a herniated disk between L4-L5 but L-5 is transitional and completely fused to the sacrum AND tilted forward causing the L-4 to slip forward and almost fully impinge on the nerve. PT is always good, he says, but it would never fix this. And because the pain is pretty much unbearable without being drugged to the gills surgery is the best chance at returning to a normal life. So I'm going to have a variation of a TLIF with a spinal cage, bone grafts, and pedicle screws. I'm nervous, a little scared, but mostly hopeful for the first time in who knows how long.
So there it is.
Thank you all for hearing out my vent. I look forward to getting to know many of you and supporting you as well through your journeys.