Ok. I just found this forum and I haven't searched through it yet. I have an appointment with a spine specialist on Tuesday and I'm anxious.
My RMI shows:
1) Moderate to severe DDD at L2-3
2) grade 1 retrolisthesis measuring 3mm at L2-3
3) severe R lateral recess stenosis and severe R neuro formaninal stenosis
4) Mild DDD at L3-5
5) Posterior disc bulge at L5-S1 with severe extension into inferior aspect of L neural foramen
6) AP dimension of thecal sac is 1.3 cm at L5-S1
7) Severe left lateral recess stenosis and very severe left neural foraminal stenosis with complete effacement of neural foramen.
I'm a 50 year-old competitive cyclist. The ortho doc before the spinal specialist referral said not to participate in impact sports such as running (I was training for a marathon in December during the off-season of bicycle racing).
Pain is with me constantly - lower back and right hip. I've had the paid for at least 2-3 years and it's getting worse. I don't have pain down the legs, nor numbness or muscle weakness; perhaps I have very slight numbness in my feet.
I'm scared. The MRI result was a complete surprise to me. With the severity of my MRI results, what options do I have? Are nonsurgical interventions of any use? I'm concerned about nerve damage. Need I wait to have shooting leg pain and/or numbness for surgical intervention? With complete effacement of the neural foramen at L5-S1, can this condition improve with nonsurgical treatment? Is there a problem leaving the severe stenosis "as is" without surgery? What problems can ensue without surgical intervention?
Also, with the severity of my condition, will I be able to return to competitive cycling? If I need fusion, will this interfere with the bent-over position on my bicycle? Is it better to just live with the pain? I currently take ibuprofen from time to time. And while I don't currently participate in physical therapy, I use yoga for flexibility and weight training for core strength - will actual PT do much more for me? I'm also concerned that if I go the steroid injection route, while perhaps helpful for pain, the procedure will do nothing for my stenosis and resulting potential nerve damage over time.
I certainly will seek second and third doctor opinions after my appointment with the spinal surgeon on Tuesday. However, I'm trying to gather as much information as possible to access my situation and treatment options. I would appreciate any thoughts and opinions you may have.