Some hope for anyone hoping to avoid surgery...
I know that everyone's story is different and all cases differ but I thought I would my story might be of interest for anyone who is trying to avoid surgery. I have DDD at L5-S1 with a significant central disc bulge. I have been off work for almost 7 months now. I had three ESIs, each of which gave me some pain relief and allowed me to start walking again. Two months ago my sciatica intensified, I had numbness in my toes and was unable to walk.
My ortho said that he could only offer me fusion (which he didn't recommend) and a referral to a pain management specialist. I went for a second opinion to a neuro and he recommended a microdiscectomy. I decided to go for surgery but my gut instinct said no and I cancelled. Since then my sciatica subsided and I began to feel better than I had since February. I went for a third opinion to another ortho today.
He confirmed that I am on the mend - the bulge is subsiding. I need to walk for 45 minutes or more every day and he is positive that my back pain (which continues) will go and I should be back to normal within another 12 months. If necessary, I will need more ESIs to ease the back pain. He believes that all cases like mine resolve themselves with time.
He said that I was lucky that I hadn't gone for surgery as he predicted I would have required fusion within 2 years, with the risk of other discs weakening etc.
I know when I was in the horrors of pain, I would have allowed someone to remove half my brain if it stopped it!! This is just a story that may be relevant to someone who can't have or doesn't want surgery. I know my story isn't over, but I know one thing for sure, I'll be out pounding the streets or the treadmill every day if it means I don't have to go through that again.
Good luck to everyone.