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Advise Please!

I'm not exactly sure what category to put this under, so I figure chronic pain made the most sense.

I have an extruded L4/L5 disc and my L5/S1 doesn't look to great either. I also have DDD in that area as well.

I've had this issue for about 14 years now. It was from lifting weights in college and lots of manual labor over the years. Now that I'm in my 30's it's becoming much more painful. My whole lower back has been in pain for many years, but it was manageable. Now, I have very sharp pain in my left lower back and left buttock. Also shooting pain down my leg.

I'm still (until recently) a very active person, hiking, climbing, running, biking etc. So as I'm weighing the options, I want something that will allow me to stay active while being reasonably pain free, and a procedure that lasts a long time. I'd rather deal the the pain and healing process now while I'm still young then wait until I'm older. Assuming it's the right decision.

I had a cortisone shot about 6 weeks ago. It did absolutely nothing for me. So I can get another one of those, but assuming it doesn't work, my next options are surgery from what I understand.

My options seem to be :
1. Discectomy
2. Micro Discectomy
3. Fusion
4. Stem Cells
5. Disc Replacement.

I personally do not want a fusion, and from what I'm reading, stem cells sound more like snake oil at this point.

I've also read if I get a Discectomy that I may not be eligible to get a Disc Replacement in the future. Not sure how true that is. The disc replacements are fairly new, and I have no idea how long they last, but from what I've read about a discectomy, I have a very high chance of reinjuring the disc in the future, which will require more surgeries etc.

I'm leaning towards the disc replacement, but I just wanted to get opinions form the people on this board who have been though this process already. I'm of course seeing doctors and getting their professional opinions too.

Please chime in with any questions, or advise. I'm open to hear anything and everything. I just want less pain, and more activity. I also want to make a choice that is good for the future.



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