i agree with the other respondents: surgery should be a LAST resort and not a FIRST THOUGHT. I fell down a flight of stairs in 1990 and injured my lower back, L4-5, S1. I was in really killing pain at that point. not pushing, but i was familiar with chiropractic and used chiropractic adjustments for pain relief for several years with great success. my chiropracter referred me to several neurologists, orthopedists, surgions, etc, but i just wasn't ready to have anybody do permanent "damager" to my back.
Like you i too lortab and some other "milder" pain killers and had several sets of spinal injections. The last ones, in 2001, drove me to an attempterd suicide because the pain was to terrible - the neurologist who admininstered the epidural steroid injection, i found out later, ws using my body as an erxperimental dummy. if i believed in malpractice lawsuits, i would be tempted. . . . .
I also had a great deal of relief from accupuncture just aafter the injury. my insurance stgopped paying for it and i couldn't affoprd it with my severly limited income.
i've had two surgeries by an excellent dr who does nothing but spinal operations. Before the first surgery, in 2002, i weas walking with great difficulty with a walker. after the surgery, i was almost pain free for a year and could walk unaided. unfoirtunately, after about a year the pain came back and the dr "reminded" me that he had wanted to do a second surgery to remove the screws holding the titanium rods in place. This second surgreery was not neaarly as succedssful from a pain standpoint. i am seeing a pm dr who had rxed percocet 3x/day and morphine as needed up to 3x/day. i am walking painfully with the aid of a cane.
i cannot tell you what to do. you have already been given some excellent advice and histories. i have shared my experience with you to help provide "grist for the mill" to your decision-making.
i wish you the very best, all the luck in the universe, and all of the tenderness that can possibly be provided.