Hello, I'm a 37 yr old male, been lurking for a while but this will be my first post - I am really struggling and could really use some feedback. In 2008 I was T-boned in a car wreck, left half of my body was black and blue but I didn't notice any back pain yet. Over the next few years, I began having increasing episodes of my lower right back "going out" (7-9 level pain mostly centralized in what felt like the lower right lumbar / upper right hip region, but also with shooting pain down the right leg on particularly bad flare ups). These episodes seemed to be sporadic and would resolve in 7-10 days.
I soon figured out that the trigger for these episodes seemed to be sleeping on my back on a mattress too soft, so I tried buying a series of firmer and firmer mattresses over the years, which seemed to help for a while...But in December 2012 my back went out one morning after a few weeks of sleeping on the firmest mattress money could buy...it was at this point that the pain became somewhat increasingly chronic to where I can no longer lift anything over a few pounds without triggering it - I would have some pain-free days but it's as if my lower right back/hip is now constantly on a hairpin trigger.
Since then, laying down for only a few minutes on any mattress or recliner will trigger the excruciating pain...Now I can only sleep on a mattress topper on the floor - it's as if my right tailbone or lower right back needs to "bottom out" on the floor to stop it from going out. Also, I cannot dare sleep on my right side as this will trigger the pain.
Throughout this time I had two MRIs but they only revealed mild bulges at L4-5 and L5-S1, with mild bilateral foraminal narrowing, so the many doctors and neurosurgeons I saw couldn't figure out the pain.
To make matters worse, I bought an inversion table in Jan 2013 which seemed to work wonders for the right side pain for about a month, until I was upside down one day doing the twisting exercises from the Teeter video and - snap!! - I heard a popping sound and felt horrible pain on my left side! Since then I've been unable to sleep on my left side either. And anytime I try to hop on the inversion table or decompress my spine at all (I.e., with that $70k decompression machine at the chiropractors), the left side pain comes back with a vengeance (this pain often radiates to the back of my left heel). So, it honestly feels like I have two different injuries - one on the right side which decompression would help, but another on the left side which decompression hurts.
Fast forward to December 2013 - I went to an orthopedic surgeon who did a CT scan which revealed a unilateral left L5 pars interarticularis defect with a corticated margin likely longstanding, and "mild sclerosis involving the right L5 pars interarticularis consistent with an old healed fracture." I was so happy to finally have a diagnosis!!
But can this explain the two different types of pain (with completely different triggers/aggravators - the right side demands that I bottom out on my back on a hard surface, whereas the left side wants a softer surface - so I constantly struggle to buy the perfect combination of soft (but not too soft) mattress toppers to pile on the floor to sleep on)? And the right side pain is so much more intense than the left, and produces radiating pain and numbness down to my right foot when it flares.
Anyway I have now met with two surgeons (orthopedic and neuro) who have both recommended fusion surgery L5-S1 with a 98% success rate based on the CT scan findings. I was about to sign up a few weeks ago, but I began having second thoughts and worried that perhaps there is more going on here - like a sacroiliac joint dysfunction or something they've missed - it would be my absolute horror to get the surgery and wake up on my back on the hospital bed mattress with my right side out - back to square one.
If anyone has any feedback, ideas, or similar symptoms they've encountered I would be forever grateful!! BTW I burnt a bleeding ulcer into my stomach with all the NSAIDS, and I've got a mild allergy (right throat swells) to all the opiates they've tried, so my painkilling options are limited to ice and Tylenol. I also have to take omeprazole 20mg everyday for the past two years for the bleeding ulcer - I wonder if that is robbing my body of the nutrients/minerals it needs to heal my back? Please help I am really at my wits end with this chronic pain, thank you so much