I have had low back pain for most of my adult life (46 years old), but not constant and about 6 months ago I noticed the pain started radiating down my right buttock down the back of my right leg and down the side to my foot. Then about a month ago the same pain moved to be on the left as well. I have seen my PCP several times who kept telling me I had bursitis in my hips and would give shots into the bursa. Those obviously didn't help. He prescribed several different anti-inflammatory medications that didn't help as well. I finally gave up on him and made an appointment with an orthopedic. He first did a pelvic x-ray and said the same thing about the hip giving me another shot into the bursa and follow up in 2 weeks. I followed up in 2 weeks and he did a l-spine x-ray and said I had sciatica and ordered an MRI. Here are the results: Procedure: MRI Lumbar Spine W/O Contrast - Clinical Information: Sciatica - Technique: Sagittal T1 and T2 imaging is performed. T2 axial imaging is performed - Comparison: None - Findings: Vertebral heights, alignment and marrow signal are normal. There is reactive endplate marrow change at L5-S1 and benign fatty marrow in L4. Conus position signal is normal. - L5-S1: Mild broad-based left foraminal disc bulging moderately narrows the left neural foramen but does not result in neural impingement. - L4-L5: T There is minimal diffuse dorsal and lateral disc bulging without focal herniation or stenosis. There is no neural impingement. - L3-L4: No abnormality - The upper levels of the lumbar spine and lower thoracid spine with sagittal sequences are unremarkable and demonstrated retroperitoneum is unremarkable - Impression: Broad-based left formainal disc bulging at L5-S1 with moderate left foraminal stenosis but no neural impingement.
I was referred to a neurosurgeon and had that appointment today. He spent minimal time with me to tell me that my disc was shot and the vertebra had significant DDD and arthritis (may be the same thing) and that I needed surgery and had it scheduled for December 30th before my head could spin. I had a couple seconds to ask what surgery and he said Lumbar TLIF (I had no idea what that meant until I got back to work) and I asked would I be pain free and he said not 100% and it might be required on other discs later down the road 1 to 10 years. I asked what he was going to do and it was explained to me that he would cut an 3 inch incision and insert a plate and screws and that was all I was told. I went in telling myself that I would not have my back cut on at any cost.
My question is, what other non-invasive options are there? I haven't tried Physical Therapy or Chiropractic. Would either of those help? I'm a walker, but what exercises could I do to strengthen my back without having to have surgery. The pain is excruciating. I know I don't have to tell anyone here that, but I take muscle relaxers and pain pills and they aren't easing the pain enough to tolerate the nausea that comes along with them. I'm looking for any suggestions or advice anyone can give. I only have 2 weeks until surgery to change my mind or try something different. The pain has changed my life! I used to walk up to 5 miles a day and I can barely walk 1, I can't sit or stand or drive for long periods of time. I'm miserable to the point of tears.