This is my first time on here, decided to post as I am very overwhelmed with everything that has been going on, and would love some advice as well as for people to share their recovery stories if they were in a similar state as I am.
I have had back pain since I was 17, and finally was a given a referral for an MRI when I was 22. It took a really long time for doctors to take my pain seriously. At that point I had slight degeneration and a slight protrusion at my L5-S1. I paid 700 dollars for a 5 minute consultation with a surgeon, just to hear that my nerve damage wasn't substantial enough to justify getting a surgery at 22. I was given no advice or care plan. I was very active for the next two years and took care of my back on my own, and was doing very well, my pain was definitely under control.
Then 9 months ago the pain started getting worse again, to the point where I couldn't exercise anymore, and I really started feeling that shooting nerve pain down the back of my right leg. I was also unable to sit for an extended period of time without being in excruciating pain. This is a huge problem for me as I just started graduate school in September, and all of my classes are 3 hours long. I also need to spend a lot of time sitting in order to study and write papers. So 4 months ago I got a second MRI. This one revealed a 12mm protrusion at my L5-S1, which is compressing my S1 nerve root. There is also bulge at my L4-L5, and three of my discs are degenerating in a row starting at my L5-S1 and going up.
After this MRI I was urgently referred to the spinal clinic and was also prescribed percocets (which I have been on quite consistently since October). The doctor at the spinal clinic said that cortisone injections would help. They didn't. Neither did physiotherapy, or anything else I have tried (inversion table, electrical nerve stim, acupuncture, massage, stretching, supplements). If I can avoid sitting, like I did over winter break, I can manage. However, any time I go back to sitting, the pain comes back with a vengeance. The pain is all pretty much sciatic. I went back to my doctor at the spinal clinic 2 weeks ago, and seeing as the injections didn't work, he said surgery is the next step, specifically a microdiscectomy.
However, I have a ton of people in my ear telling me I can recover on my own, and that I don't need surgery, and if I just do this or that, or take this or take that, then I will get better. Like I said, I am in graduate school and I am not sure if I can wait however many years to recover on my own... I have already had to miss so much school because of this condition, and am always on painkillers.
Also, I am in Canada, and so typically I would have to wait about a year to get in for the surgery, it would obviously be covered by health care, but I wouldn't get to choose when I have the surgery, or who does it. However, I have this great insurance that finds you the best specialist for your condition and covers the cost of the surgery with just a 5 thousand dollar deductible. The only thing is, I only have this insurance plan until next February. So if I do have this surgery I will be getting it at the beginning of April so that I don't miss any school.
I am just wondering what you guys think, is surgery a good idea at this point, after failed conservative treatment? Or should I keep trying. Anyone my age with a similar herniation have surgery stories? Also, if I have the surgery at the beginning of April, would I be able to go to Mexico for a resort vacation on June 13th...I already have this vacation booked!
Would love to hear from.. anyone!