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Long story short I've been dealing with chronic low back pain for over 25 years now. Lead a very active lifestyle in my youth and into my 20's and probably messed it up weightlifting or snowboarding. Over the years I've done several MRI's, Chiropractor, Epidural Injections, PT, Massage, etc. Some treatments have worked better than others but I'm still in a lot of pain and an unable to do activities that I wish I could do without suffering the consequences. In the past, Doctors did not want to do surgery because pain was isolated in my back with only mild sciatica.
Fast forward to present and my pain has increased despite losing a lot of weight and doing a ton of core exercises and stretches. Latest MRI at L4-L5 shows loss of disc signal with a 3mm protrusion and annular fissure just to the right of the midline. Both foramina are moderately narrowed from front to back. L5-S1 loss of disc height and disc signal. 3-4mm central protrusion mildly flattens Dural sac. S1 nerve roots are normal. L5 nerve roots are normal as well. Degenerative changes of the facet joints bilaterally.
Haven't been to the Dr in years but found new ortho surgeon who specializes in ex-athletes, etc. He wants to do a micro discectomy at the L4-L5 level where he thinks the disc is causing me problems. He will also treat surrounding discs with stem cell injections.
Here are my questions;
1. Dr's haven't wanted to do surgery in the past because most of my pain was localized in my low back with minimal sciatica issues. Leg strength has always been okay. I have numbness and burning in right outer thigh but Doctors say that is from Meralgia Paraesthetica and not from my back issue. Wondering in my new MRI has made me a better candidate for surgery?
2. I have read that micro discectomy does not always help those with chronic low back pain without sciatica or lower extremity issues. Not sure why this is?
3. At this point other than the cost and recovery of surgery what do I have to loose since I've tried a lot of conservative treatments and have been dealing with this for so long. Is there a chance surgery can make things worse?
4. Are there any positive stories or outcomes with similar surgery and diagnosis particularly for those with isolated back pain and not a lot of sciatica or leg pain?