In December of last year I hurt my back while at work. I have a very physical demanding job. I initially just had some pain over si joint and in lower back. I was put on steroids to help with inflammation. Once I came off the steroids I ended up with severe radiculopathy in my right leg, constant sciatica pain. It eventually worked it's way over to my left side as well. I had a MRI done first week of January that showed an annular tear in l4, both l4 and l5 are bulging as well. My initial doctor ignored the tear and said that wasn't causing my pain or neuro symptoms. He did send me to a neurologist though. Neurologist said my initial MRI was suggesting a nerve issue with l5 and he ordered an EMG/NCV test. Neurologist actually suspected a nerve issue in l5,s1 and s2 but for some reason they didn't check s2. At the time of the EMG/NCV test I wasn't having neuro symptoms on left side yet so right side was only done. Test hit on l5 and s1.My issue in l5 actually is showing active denervation of the paraspinal muscles in my back( to which I now am loosing sensation in my lower back). First epidural was done after EMG/NCV test. Doctor targeted l5 and s1. Well it pretty much went horribly wrong. I did get relief with l5 symptoms for a brief period but because s2 wasn't checked on EMG/NCV she didn't target it. Just enough steroid leaked down to s2 to put me in debilitating pain. Next epidural she targeted all 3. It was heaven........ For 5 days until it wore off completely. Doctor wanted me to see an neurosurgeon for a second opinion since I wasn't getting the relief I should be with epidurals. I saw a neurosurgeon who ordered a mylogram. I questioned neurosurgeon as well about the tear to which he blew me off as well. Had mylogram and neurosurgeon said it was normal and there was nothing he could do for me. By this time I was extremely frustrated. Being blown off by doctors, no explanation for my neuropathy. I then switched doctors again and paid out of pocket for an independant read of my mri. I was furious when I got results from this. I not only have one tear in l4 but another one as well in L5 that was completely missed by all doctors and radiologist who read initial MRI. Clearly on my MRI you can see both tears. Also, because my l4 disk is bulging, my l5 nerve roots are basically being irritated, not compressed. You can see on MRI where my nerve roots have contact with disk and ligament flavum.My new PM doctor did pick up,on this was well. She had concern because I am loosing sensation in my back and not getting any better( been doing pt since December with no relief). She also ordered another MRI with contrast. Nothing had changed in 6 months. Saw different neurologist than 1st and he wants me to go straight to a fusion because of the 2 tears and the fact that I have DDD in both disks. To say I was floored was an understatement. I wasn't expecting him to say I need a fusion. So I went and got a second opinion. Saw an ortho who specializes in backs. He said no I don't need a fusion, flat out said if I got it, I would be stupid. That was his exact words. He also said he wouldn't decompress my l4 disk because even though it's bulging and irritating nerve roots because it's not compressing them. I tried to explain to him that these two tears are just not healing and I'm having severe pain issues. He said give it another 6 months. and then we would " talk" about it. Now let me say it's not that I want surgery but I'm truly getting nowhere with pt. I have done regular pt, aqua therapy and nothing. No change in my symptoms. I truly just want to get back to work. As for the fusion, if I would go with that, chances are because of my physical demands of my job, I most likely would not be able to return to it. Plus, I'm 42 and I'm not sure I'm ready to go that route just yet. I was hoping by now the tears would of healed some, to which they have not.
Now let me give a little more back ground. Prior to my injury, I have never had any back issues. I took medication for my stomach and that was all. Presently I'm on gabapentin, baclofen, flexeril, Celebrex, lidoderm patches and norco for break thru pain. I had to date, 2 si joint injections ( no change in pain) and a total of 3 epidurals.
My question is has anyone truly healed from annular tears? I seriously feel like I'm getting no where. Other than a fusion, that was the only option given to me. I really thought there was something a bit less invasive that could be tried first. This pain is truly unbearable, my neuropathy has only continued to get worse.