"My question is how bad was your results before they did surgery? Mine started last year and I did PT, now it's been back for almost 2 months and it VERY painful. I've NEVER had back pain like this! I can't stand in one place and I can't walk. I have very few minutes without pain all day long. What can I do before seeing him? What do I do after seeing him as I'm sure he can't cure me that day... what do I do? I'm to the point I want surgery as PT didn't make it go away, I've been taking NSAID's and muscle relaxers and am starting to take 1/2 of a Vicodin for pain to sleep. Please let me know how bad yours was before they would let you have surgery... if you can, read my post with my results and let me know what you think."
I was miserable before my back surgery. MRI results-wise, my lumbar ones were not good, but not awful (not like my neck results were --those were scary bad, apparently). I had 3 messed up discs, but none were fully flopping out (one was black, though, no spinal fluid left in it). I had 3 areas of stenosis, but only one of them was 'moderate to severe' and that's the one that was compressing on both sciatic nerves... so horrific pain down both legs. There were also bone spurs. Nothing was 'dangerous' in my MRI, but it did show why I was in so much pain and experiencing immobility from the pain. Physical "results"-wise, I was in agony when walking or standing more than 5-15 minutes (at my worst). I ended up eventually using a cane, then a walker (seated walker that I could use as a wheelchair when I truly couldn't walk any further even with the help of the walker). My first pain started quite mildly around March 2007, then went away with PT and meds by June. It wasn't that bad, but was just enough to need the PT and meds. I had more trouble, mild at first by August -didn't even realize it was sciatica again and kept thinking I just pulled a muscle (butt muscle). I took OTC meds to help. It worsened and then went down both legs. By mid-October I was miserable and realized it was sciatica. I started on Rx meds and was back in PT. My Dr was talking about epidural steroid injections if the PT didnt' work. I knew the PT wasn't going to work, knew it before I started. The pain was just so excruciating and so much worse than before. Still, I thought it was temporary and something that could be fixed fully with an injection or two. My Dr mentioned surgery while I was in PT, but neither of us thought it would be needed (I hadn't had my MRI yet, just an x-ray). After a month+ of PT not working, I had the MRI (in December) and my Dr referred me to a NS after getting the results herself. I didn't get the results until I saw a NS in January (my Dr wouldn't tell me). By January, I was using that cane and using the scooters at stores (otherwise I couldn't shop for groceries, whatnot). I also knew it wasn't 'something temporary' by then, had learned about DDD and all. By February, I had a 2nd opinion and knew I was headed to surgery, thought it would be summertime and I intended to lose weight beforehand. I also was expecting an injection, epidural nerve block, the next month to help me get through to summer. The 3rd NS and 3rd opinion I had in March (also had a 4th opinion in March) made me bump up my surgery to the following month. My neck was too urgent an issue to wait and we were going to piggyback (haha, piggy"back") my neck and back surgeries. By March (1 yr since I first had problems and 5 months since my problems had become unlivable), I'd started using the walker and had a temporary disabled placard for my car --and wished I hadn't been so stubborn about using one and getting one. It would have helped me tremendously if I'd started both months before, but I left myself give in to feeling 'funny' over it. The meds I'd tried before surgery were various pain killers (norco, vicodin) and flexerill for muscle relaxant. I almost tried Lyrica, but became too nervous about the initial side effects, at that time. I took Motrin/ibuprofren like candy, too, way over the dose I was suppose to be taking. My pain ranged about 5-10 with meds, without meds a 7-off the charts. I was eager for surgery.
I can't interpret your MRI results, but I can tell you that sometimes even if an MRI doesn't seem 'too bad', the pain the patient feels can be awful (and vice versa, believe it or not). What matters is both combined -the results of the MRI and the 'results' of your actual pain level and how it effects your daily living.