Well, I had my second shot last week. I had two really pain-free days. The pain in my arm is gone but the pain in my back persists. The question my pain doctor has is whether the nerve damage to my tricep is permanent. The surgery might - or might not - fix that.
Have I seen the "big honkin' disc." I have, on the MRI. And oh yeah. It's big and it's honkin' alright. My pain doctor (shot guy) told me "the surgery isn't that bad" in discussing it.
My problem is this: I like to lift weights, but cannot right now. My OSS told me I'd be having surgery "for sure" if I tried. I have a difficult time sitting at my desk all day (I do work out of my house, so laptop/recliner is thankfully an option) without developing the back pain. WHen I get up in the morning I am fairly pain free but once I'm up awhile, the pain starts.
The pain itself I could live with - but if I'm at risk for MORE nerve damage from the "big honkin' disc" as well as being limited in the activities I like to do .. then I probably need to entertain the surgery option. I'm young (well, sort of - 41) and in decent physical condition, two factors that I think would assist in a decent recovery. I had shoulder surgery last winter (AC joint) and made that recovery fully in less than six months. I know, apples to oranges, but it did give me a sort of "recovery benchmark".