I've had back "problems" for years. About 10 years total. This last time I was getting out of the bed, and heard it pop. I knew it as soon as it happened. I couldn't even bend over to tie my shoes.
Among the many different things I've tried include:
Physical therapy, with an exercise ball. All you do is lay on it, and roll forward, and back. Very helpful. I actually heard my back pop.
Chiropractor, it took about ten visits, but I could finally tie my shoes.
Among the most helpful supplements are B complex, magnesium, and tumeric for pain. The tumeric was very helpful, two 500mg capsules twice a dayhttp://www.amazon.com/Jarrow-Formulas-Curcumin-500... As well as an adequate intake of water, staying hydrated helps with muscle contraction, and spasms. Cherries have the same cox 2 inhibitors as many of the NSAIDS. Can be taken in supplement, or eaten.http://www.amazon.com/Solaray-Tart-Cherry-veggie-c...
Many have found benefit from stretching exercises, and yoga.
As far as surgery goes, I don't have any personal experience, but a friend of mine had it done, she said it truly helped her. I am considering it, as it has effected my lifestyle. I can't walk long distances, and have to be careful in what I lift, or ways that I bend.
An Mri should help to reveal what you are dealing with, then the course of action will be clearer for you.