I'm only 28 years old, and somehow managed to nearly completely herniate my disc between my L4-L5 (may have something to do with having degenerative disc disease and lumbar stenosis, but almost a complete disc herniation at my age?). Timing was rather awkward, and by the time I was able to have an MRI, surgery was emergent as the herniation was practically obliterating my spinal cord. I was experiencing weakness and numbness in my legs and feet, and severe pain in my buttocks and legs. Both the spine surgeon and the neurologist expressed their astonishment at the size of the herniation (the worst either had ever seen), and that I was still able to walk, or at the very least didn't have Cauda Equina Syndrome yet.
I'm currently 6 weeks post-op, and my legs feel great, and the numbness is beginning to ebb away. However, I'm starting to feel pain in my lower back with the slightest movements. The doctor explained to me today that there's virtually no padding between the vertebrae now, so they're basically rubbing against each other when I move. He said that losing weight and strengthening my core can help manage some of the aggravation, but that I will basically be dealing with back problems for the rest of my life now.
Maybe I should be grateful that I'm not paralyzed, but that seems like a rather ominous prognosis to have to look forward to for the rest of my life, one that I know will only get worse with age. Are there any other reasonable options to help manage this a little more proactively, so I don't have to live in chronic pain?