I'm 32 years old and have a very 'contrary' back.
I had a herniated disc at L4-L5 back in 2010 and had a micro disectomy to remove the disc. Having been in absolute agony for months and unable to lie on my back and in the end, get into any kind of comfortable position, the relief after the op was incredible. Prior to the surgery, my left leg was numb and in the final few days, had turned purplish blue.
Following the surgery, I was able to lie on my back. I had a period of burning in my left leg but it was all manageable. Since then, I've had periods where I've been fine and then periods of pain. I still have some numbness in the left leg.
The issue is that things are still not 'right'. For the past few months I've had periods of terrible pain.The pain comes from sitting down mostly. When I try and stand up, I'm bent forwards and to the left and I have to walk on tiptoes for about 15 ft before I can get upright again and walk normally. Sneezing can make me feel like my back is going to pop open. Some days I can walk for a couple of hours, others, the pressure in my lower back is terrible and I have to sit down. Sometimes it even hurts just to get out of bed or try to turn over. I often have trouble getting up and down off the sofa.
I have been to the Wooridul Spinal Centre in Dubai and following MRIs and x-rays, they have said that part of the disc that was removed is still protruding, I have reduced space between L4-L5 and the gap is not straight so I have developed mild scoliosis. He has diagnosed DDD and suggested an ALIF at L4-L5. The surgeon is meant to be one of the best, having performed 8,500 of these surgeries and Wooridul is an international centre for spinal care.
The thing I'm bothered about it that I'm not in agony all the time so is this surgery completely necessary? I've been told that physio is not an option. I'm 32 but often feel about 92 I'm so stiff and restricted, even though I have always been very active and flexible. I just want to be able to feel like I can live my life, swim, pick my nieces up, sit at my desk, and in the future have a healthy pregnancy and natural delivery, without having this pain hanging over me. I've had back problems on and off now for 5 years as I was diagnosed with disc bulges at 27.
A friend of a friend was in exactly the same situation as me and had the fusion. She said it was the best thing she did, despite not being in agony and not on painkillers at the time (she too had a microdisectomy 2 years before). I can manage most of the time without painkillers, apart from the most recent 'flair' for which I was taking myenol and voltarin. The issue is that these painkillers shred my stomach and I end up with chronic stomach ache and passing blood. Other painkillers mean I'm unable to work - something I have to do! I was taking painkillers because I had family to stay so I was more active than usual but would be perfectly average for anyone else, which makes me think I'm currently living a very sendentary lifestyle to prevent the pain coming.
Has anyone else been in the same situation? Can I at least think that a ALIF won't make it any worse, if not better? Any advice would be greatly received. I'm due to get second and third opinions this week from a US and European clinics, but I'll need to make a decision soon.
Thanks so much!!