I am the father of a 20-year old (formerly) athletic college student who first felt his lower back tighten about a year ago while he was using very light weight sitting and doing an overhead press. A few days later he was swinging a baseball bat and the lumbar pain began in full. He has seen orthopedists, chiropractors, and physical therapists. He has had shots (steroids/epidural) and acupuncture. He does core strengthening exercises and other (e.g., hamstring stretches) regularly. Bottom line, he hasn't been able to return to any even mildly strenuous activities for over a year without major pain. He has had a couple of major spasms, but he is able to walk to class and manage everyday life most days.
Here is what stands out on his (comparable) MRIs (July and December 2018). Thankfully nothing outwardly ominous. Everything else is unremarkable:
T12-L1: Disc desiccation with mild left foraminal protrusion
L1-L2: Disc desiccation with left foraminal zone protrusion
L5-S1: Bulge without central canal stenosis. There is mild bilateral foraminal narrowing.
Most of the professionals believe that he has "facet syndrome" (facet joints causing pain in conjunction with degenerative disc disease (DDD)). They believed this would largely resolve itself after treatment. Happy that the orthopedic surgeons just recommended physical therapy, but one year later progress is minimal, so we're thinking there is something other/more than facet syndrome is going on.
We're aware that anything DDD-related can be tough, but while he continues to work on further generally strengthening his core/stretching his hamstrings, I'd be grateful for any advice.