Your symptoms are the typical slow progression of degeneration from an isthmic spondylo at L5-S1. In my opinion, the TLIF is the appropriate answer to this disorder. The surgeon has to be meticulous and “OCD” in surgery but the ultimate outcome can be very good. Expect immediate nerve pain relief, 6 months for your back to feel normal and a year to feel like you never had surgery. A one level TLIF at L5-S1, when healed is consistent with olympic level activity.
Donald Corenman, MD, DC is a highly-regarded spine surgeon, considered an expert in the area of neck and back pain. Trained as both a Medical Doctor and Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Corenman earned academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and his research on spine surgery and rehabilitation has resulted in the publication of multiple peer-reviewed articles and two books.