Thank you for your question.
I feel sorry for what you are going through. Is it the back pain
that you are troubled with or do you have leg pain as well?
The annular tears can be very painful but usually the pain does not last that long as they are painful acutely. The foraminal narrowing is usually the culprit for leg pain. Arthropathy is common in middle to old age group and results of surgery are very unpredictable and are in fact controversial. Physical therapy
includes ground therapy, aquatherapy, TENS
and other pain modalities. It is recommended to discuss these options with your therapist. If there is instability at L4-5 and L5-S1 surgery is indicated to stabilize these segments of spine and achieve fusion. Of course, I would recommend trying all nonoperative means of pain control first to find out whichever works best for you.
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.