Hello everyone, I
wanna share my story with you in order to hear some of your thoughts and own
experiences and any advices you may have.
I’m a 6’5, 200 lbs,
23 year old male. I played volleyball competitively from age 12 to 20. At age 16
I had severe low back pain and was diagnosed with a L5/S1 herniated disc. Treatment
was standard: physical therapy and pilates. The result was very good, I was pain
free in 3 months and managed to play volleyball all the way through my third
year of college, at which point I decided I wanted to focus more on school and
my future rather than keep going with the sport…Going from a 6 day a week
practice routine to sitting a lot and not doing much exercising made me remember I had
a herniated disc, that was a particularly hard semester as I had just come back
home from the USA to finish school at home (I’m from Brazil). So at this point
I started to have sciatica pain down my left leg. A new MRI in March 2017 revealed
my herniation was now bigger and I was starting to have degenerative disc disease
in the same disc. Conventional treatment was prescribed once again, only this
time the improvements were little, I was able to live a somewhat normal life but
still with everyday pain, I decided I was not going to do the same mistake
again and began exercising regularly. Fast forward a year and a half later, the
sciatica pain is getting worse, still able to function somewhat normally though.
On a stupid attempt to get rid of this pain I made the worst decision of my life,
4 visits to a chiropractor was it took to make my pain go from annoying to debilitating.
I could no longer do any form of exercise other than pilates and no more than
30 minutes of walking without having pain.
I returned to the doctor and had a new MRI, it all looked pretty much
the same, except the herniation was again a little bigger, back again to conservative
treatment (which was something I really never stopped doing since the sciatica
started). It’s been 6 months now and with no improvements at all I returned to
doctor this week and yet another MRI confirmed that the degeneration of my disc
is severe and I was recommended a fusion of L5/S1. The doctor said he would not do a microdiscectomy on me because the severe DDD requires a fusion.
I am absolutely terrified. At the same time
that I trust the doctor’s recommendation, since he performed a L4/L5/S1 fusion
in my 65 year old mother and she has never been better, everybody else that has
helped me before (Pilates instructor, physical therapist) tell me to hold on
and try more conservative treatment, even though they are the ones helping me
in my conservative treatment for almost 2 years without great signs of
improvement. My doctor denies that a L5 S1 fusion will put more pressure on my
other discs making them start to degenerate and herniate, saying that this a myth
and if it is true how come do I have DDD without never having a fusion? He
claims that doing this now will actually prevent my other discs from becoming “sick”,
which goes in direct controversy to everything I read here on Spinal Health but
it is what happened to my mother, she waited to long to have surgery on her L5/S1 that she developed the same problem on L4/L5.
I don’t know how to
make a decision, I’m so young and have my entire life ahead of me. Do I wanna spend
my youth in pain and maybe have this surgery further down the line when I just
can’t take it anymore? Or do I wanna get it over with now and endure a 6 months
to a year recovery and possibly be pain free for a long time but have the
possibility of developing even more problems? What sucks the most is that
nobody seems to guarantee I’ll be good other than the doctor.
Hope you guys can help
me decide. Sorry for the long post, good luck to us all.