Non-operative Foraminal stenosis

3 years ago I suffered a disc extrusion at L5-S1 that was treated with NSAIDS and oral steroids. I've suffered from herniations most of my adult life, mostly healing with conservative therapy.

That is no longer the case. Since the initial extrusion, I've only managed to go a month or so without throwing it out for a day or a week. Unable to take time off, I just worked through it. January, I slipped in the shower and a few days later had significant weakness in my right leg. Being uninsured I went to the ER, had an MRI and found a herniation at the same site, in the same place. Also, moderate right sided foraminal stenosis, mild left side stenosis, and endplate spuring.

Because I had to wait for insurance, then wait for a referral, my NCS/EMG came back to show that while I did have weakness in my right leg, it was not active damage. Neurosurgeon stated the damage is permanent, and surgery is not an option for me.

He suggested I get a second opinion, as he stated he was conservative. They did not recommend PT, but did try and push injections. I was basically told to push through the pain. I'm an x-ray tech, and haven't worked since a week after I reinjured myself. I can't lift patients.

I'm not entirely sure what to do next. I feel like I'm being pushed into getting the injections, even though I've stated I'm not interested. I have left sided sciatica pain but was told my NCS stated there was no nerve damage and the pain isn't related to my back. The back pain isn't constant. Just a lack of range of motion. I can't sit for long (30 minutes) or stand long without pain.

Also, due to Chronic gastritis I'm unable to take NSAIDS or steroids.

Should I pursue the second opinion? He said I'd need a laminectomy, and fusion. He didn't feel comfortable doing this on someone my age. I'll be 42 soon. 



  • Tiger Woods is the same age as you and had a fusion and just won the Masters. Don’t give up!

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  • Thanks for the feedback. 

    I just got a referral to a Neurology and Sleep center? I don't even know what to make of that. Reading the clinic description it seems it is staffed by neurologists and not surgeons. They deal with neuropathy.

    This is the second referral I've asked for since I was told surgery wasn't an option. The first time the referral was sent to the same group I was seeing. I switched PCP and now this. 

    I guess I'll wait and see how long it will take to get me in. I'm frustrated at this point. 

  • One thing you can count on, if you are dealing with the health system, you will become frustrated at some point, I have found that at times you have to become forceful, always do it in a nice way, just don't take no for an answer

  • I had a PLIF at age 43 with excellent results. The debilitating nerve pain/sciatica were gone almost immediately post op, and still gone today almost 2 years out. Unfortunately I’m now having cervical issues, and about to have more surgery, but I’m told it’s unrelated, and just bad luck. Neck problems aside, I am 100% happy with my L5-S1 fusion, my only regret is living in pain for 6 years before surgery became emergent (I lost my ability to walk literally overnight)  out of fear of back surgery. 

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