Hello everyone! I'm a newbie here, and I'm really hoping someone has an answer to my question...
A little about me: I've had back pain as long as I can remember. I've played softball my whole life, and I can remember as far back as 13 years old having back pain/stiffness at practice. Up until a year ago, I've had mild and tolerable radiating pain that usually stayed within my hips if I sat for a long time but not much else (I thought this was normal, because I had these symptoms for so long). I'm now a Junior in college and on scholarship.
Beginning of March 2014, I woke up one morning and my back was so stiff I couldn't move. Played a double-header that day, had a great game and didn't think much of my back pain other than it was just stiff and paired with sciatica. That night, I ended up collapsing in the parking lot trying to get out of my car. By the time I got in to get an MRI, my symptoms had subsided (it took ~2 wks of resting and PT), where my Doc said my L4/L5 was the worst he had ever seen in someone with as few symptoms as I had (L5/S1 is herniated as well). I told him I've had pain for years, and he wonders if it's just been a gradual thing that has occurred over a long period of time as opposed to a specific "injury".
Summer 2014 I wasn't able to train or do much of anything because it irritated my back too bad, even with PT. Tried running some with the team in September, ended up putting myself out for 2 wks again, but PT and rest fixed this too. After that, I had manageable symptoms (occasional stiffness and constant mild sciatica that I learned to ignore) until Feb 1st, where I was in the middle of practice and my back out of nowhere stiffened up and felt like someone stabbed me. Pain got worse by the day after this, and I had to use a wheelchair just to get to class. I ended up in the ER Feb 4th after passing out in class because the pain and spasms were terrible. Got a cortisone shot Feb 5th, and while it finally stopped the spasms and the pain went from a 9 to a 2 instantly, the pain has gotten worse since. Now, Feb 19th, I get numbness in my feet sides of my legs and some pain mostly in my right leg (although it switches back and forth between legs occasionally). My right leg often feels dead.
I'm looking at getting a microdiscectomy hopefully sometime in the next few months, since my school is calling it a "school-related incident" and they'll be paying for it. I've been researching all options and I feel like this is my best chance. I've been suffering from back pain for so long, and PT alone hasn't been keeping it away long-term. Even if I never play softball again, I would like to at least be active. I'm only 20 years old and I'm not able to run, bike, or even do yoga sometimes because it irritates my back too bad. However, I'm worried that I've had this so long that if I were to relieve the pressure from my nerves, it would cause more harm than good because everything has been compressed for so many years...
Has anyone has any sort of similar situation? Getting a disc removed when it's been herniated for so long? I don't know if that's an actual thing that can happen. This is all very new to me and I've been Googling a lot of things, and this isn't something I've been able to find information on... I feel very lost because I can't find a case like mine and I just want to be out of pain.
Thank you to whoever takes the time to read this!