After years on chronic back pain, I got a large extruded herniation into my L4-L5 left nerve root from working on the job. The image shows at least 1/4 of the disc protruding into the nerve area. The accident happened 3 months ago and the first surgeon skipped over any diagnostic testing and sent me for injections and several weeks of PT (Im pretty sure he didn't even look at my MRI). Between therapy and light yoga, I've made some progress with my ability to stand and sit for longer periods, but I can't be sure if this is result of the injections or therapy. My optimism has led me to believe I am slowly getting better, though I sporadically feel milder pain signals in my leg that is getting less over time. I still have persistent overall weakness and muscle tightness in that leg, which makes me think something is not getting better....
Now, several months later I just got a consultation with a prominent surgeon who has sent me into panic mode. According to him I need to get surgery asap as the nerve is likely being damaged and the longer I wait the more of a chance it will be. His convincing points were that I have motor weakness in that left foot and leg, the large size of impression on the nerve, and the duration that its been going on
Before speaking with this doc I was under the impression that I had time to see if the PT and shots helped me recover naturally prior to looking at surgery (which from what I've read you should avoid surgery if possible).
Unfortunately, do to workers comp, getting all the conservative treatments approved has been frustratingly slow and now I am panicking and fear that I waited to long and should have went to a less distracted surgeon earlier on, if surgery is in fact the only way to go. Or perhaps this new surgeon is selling surgery to me because he is a surgeon and it is a business right?
My main question is: How can one get an objective opinion on the right treatment path when it feels like all providers and saying something different? (i.e. PT says to give it time, Pain Doc says wait for next injection etc) Should the surgeon be the most knowledgeable opinion to trust.
Any further advise on how to navigate this situation would be super appreciated! Please help! Thank you