Laminectomy L4-L5 and L5-S1 in 2001
Now:48 yo group fitness (yoga/Pilates/indoor cycling) instructor--10 lbs overweight
MRI from Aug 2013 indicates stenosis, herniation to the left at L5-S1, spondylolisthesis grade 1@L4-L5, annular tear and slight bulge at L3-L4
I felt great after 2001 laminectomy, but in the past 5 years have had episodes of my back going out. A yearly transforaminal cortisone shot fixed me up nicely. Even with all the issues documented in last year's MRI, I was asymptomatic with no real pain--only fatigue in my back after prolonged standing or walking. I did however quit running and weight lifting last year. This past Feb, I felt right groin pain after shoveling snow (I know, dumb.). I stopped and tried to baby my back but felt the injury flare up after and during yoga and Pilates and if I carried things in front of me. In June, the day after cycling a hilly 60 miles, I was at my desk at work, turned to face my computer and actually felt my disc herniate. Now I have slight lower back pain with nerve pain radiating down my right butt cheek, down outer hip/thigh and outer leg to ankle. It only hurts in certain seated positions or if I stand. I can only stand for a couple of minutes without wanting to walk or lean against a wall and I can only walk for short periods (30 min or so) without having more leg nerve pain and really bad soreness in my back, especially upon bending. Felt a bit better after 1 cortisone shot but it only took off the unbearable pain. I am also a HS English teacher and I fear going back to school in a couple weeks. Two docs recommended 2 level fusion and the other wanted to do 3 levels but said it was up to me to try yoga, inversion therapy, PT, etc. What is an EMG? What info does it provide? One doc said I had diminished reflexes in left leg but I disagree. I feel fine on the left side--the right side hurts. Granted one way of sitting that alleviates the right leg pain causes numbness in the left leg but that is only if I cause it to happen. I am still strong and can do balance yoga poses with just a slightly diminished range of motion upon side bending to the right. Otherwise I am still my ultraflexible self. My fears are these:
1. Will I be able to teach or even practice yoga after a two level fusion?
2. Am I being hasty deciding on surgery or am I endangering my health by waiting?
3. Is the devil I know (leg and back pain that makes me crabby and depressed and unable to enjoy doing the things I love--walking, shopping, living a pain free life) better than the devil I don't know?
Any advice, support would be appreciated. It actually feels better just getting my story down in writing!
L4-5 and L5-S1 laminectomy 2001
now bulge @ L3-4, spondylolisthesis grade 1 @ L4-L5, new herniation @ L5-S1