For the past 4 years I have had mild lower back pain, numbness in the back of my legs if I stood the wrong way, and numbness in my left foot when exercising. I never really thought too much about it, I honestly thought that I was just getting old and fat. However, this past November 2008 my lower back started really bothering me and it just got progressively worse. I saw my PCP and an Ortho Doc, tried various pain meds, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxers, nothing worked. I couldn't stand up straight and had severe pain down the back of my left leg and finally ended up in the ER on December 22nd. My holidays were a blur. I got an MRI, started PT, and got an epidural injection on January 12th. The epidural helped significantly. The pain in my leg never went away, but I was at least able to function again.
After a month of PT, I was not improving. The pain in my leg remained no matter what we did and my leg began to get weak and muscles began to atrophy. My Physical Therapist suggested that I see a neurosurgeon. When scheduling my second epidural, the Pain Mgt Doc also suggested that I see a neurosurgeon because of the way my MRI looked and that I was still having pain and a very limited range of motion.
I went to see a neurosurgeon and he told me that on a scale of 1 to 10, my problem is a 9! Long story short, I have DDD with herniations at L4-L5 and L5-S1, and spondylolisthesis. He told me that I need a Two-Level PLIF. I freaked. He told me that the longer I wait, the more nerve damage I will be doing and that a 2nd epidural is just a temporary fix.I may not have as much pain as I did in December, but the back of my leg and my heel are numb. My leg is weak, my calf muscle cramps up, my leg feels tingly, burning, achy, and I even fell once because I got up and walked too quickly.
My question is this: Have I suffered enough to warrant jumping into this very serious operation?? Is the numbness/weakness I'm having as concerning as all of the pain that I have been reading about? I have been reading this site for weeks now, and I see so many of you have been dealing with severe pain for years and years before getting this surgery.
This is all just happening so fast, I was just so shocked to find out that I have been walking around for all of these years with just mild symptoms, and now I need a fusion? I really do like my Doc, he was great at explaining everything and spent a lot of time with me and my husband. He said that I have an excellent chance of a full recovery due to my age (39) and the fact that I don't have any other underlying health issues. I did get a 2nd opinion and unfortunately that doctor suggested the same procedure.
Help! Any advice and/or similar experiences that you have would be greatly appreciated. My surgery is scheduled for March 9th and it is approaching fast!