I had herniated L3 in 00 after the race in Sarasota. After about a month of instense pain down the back of my legs I went to see Mike Lospinuso . He actually sent me for the MRI before our first visit. When I saw him he said that I could try injects or any other thearpy of my choice, nut surgery is the only real answer. He said make an appointment for two weeks and we'll talk about it then. I called him at home that night and told him to schedule me for the surgery. Within 8 weeks I was back in the boat racing in NC. The surgery and recovery was not bad, although I didn't need to be fused, yet. He said if I keep going the way I am expect to need the fusion within 10 years. While I was in rehab I met a guy that had a disk replaced using one from a doner. He was doing very well and hopefully that procedure will become more common.
The best advice I can give you is to find a good Dr, even if you have to travel. It's just not worth the risk of what could happen in someone messes up your back.