After a recent MRI, my orthopaedic surgeon has told me I have a slipped disc in my lower back and has suggested surgery in the form of a microdiscectomy. Sorry that this will seem like a rant, but I've got so much confusion and many questions at the moment.
Symptoms and painkillers
I am worried that I have left it too late for even surgery to have any effect. I began to notice shooting pains down my left leg and foot about 3 years ago (when I was 19) although it was fairly irregular at about once a day. The pain gradually got worse until 1 year ago I started taking ibuprofen to relieve it.
Now I'm on two x 200mg ibuprofen a day and can still feel the pain and every night I get woken up by it.
The most worrying thing for me just now is the extent of the nerve damage. More specifically, I'm concerned that the strength of my erections is diminishing. I'm praying that this is mainly to do with the extended long-term ibuprofen use, but I'm still not sure and it's difficult to go off the ibuprofen to find out because I'll be in agony and won't be able to sleep.
Throughout the time I've had the sciatic pain I have continued lifting weights at the gym 4-5 days a week. I really don't want to give it up, but I suppose if it's a herniated disc I'm going to have to. Having taken a week off from the gym there I am noticing some improvement, but still I don't want to get out of shape. Has anyone had to give up gym work like this? At the very least I've got some stretching exercises from the physio, which are probably a lot better for the lower back than strengthening exercises like deadlifts.
Muscular imbalance on my back
On my lower back, there is a massive bulge of muscle on the left side compared to the right side. Has anyone ever heard of this before? I'm assuming that by herniated disc it means a bit on the centre of my spine is bulging rather than muscle?
The microdiscectomy or other treatment options?
It should be December at the latest if I were to go ahead with a microdiscectomy. Does anyone think that with my symptoms I should give other treatments a try - e.g. acupuncture or chiro (I've heard chiro isn't worth it if it's a herniated disc)? Also is it worth getting a second opinion e.g. from a neuro surgeon?
Thanks for any thoughts on any of this!