I have had a injury in my lower back, L-4 - L-5 disk. I have had three surgeries on my lower back. The first one was to take out the ruptured disk, and replace it with a piece of bone off my hip, and plates & screws, called a fusion.
My pain in my leg got better, but my lower back started hurting real bad. I went back to the Nero-Surgeon who had done the surgery.
He told me that I could be having some problems with the plates & pinniacl screws that hold the plates in place, but I am a large guy...6ft. 3in. tall & 320 lbs. He said he could go back in there and remove the metal out of my back, but I would have to wait a few more months, to make sure the bone fusion was healing good.
He ended up going in there, and took out the plates, and said one of the screws had come loose, but I no longer needed the plates because my fusion was taking hold.
I too have the degenerative disk in my back as well, and bulging going on.
My L-3 - L-4 decided it would herniate so bad I had to go in for another surgery, for a fusion again. But this time they got bone out of the bone bank, because the first time when the surgeon took the bone off my hip, that hurt worse than my back. So, I had that fused as well.
Later on, my left arm started hurting bad, and ended up getting to the point where I couldn't sleep, so I went to my family doctor because I thought that maybe I was having a heart problem, with it being my left arm, but it wasn't, and I was sent back to my Nero-Surgeon, and he had a MRI done, and found out that my c-6 was ruptured, so I has another surgery, and had that fused with plates in my neck. Knock on wood, its been a few years, and I have only had minor pain in my neck, my arm got back 80% of its strength & feeling.
So currently, my L-2 / L-3 disk is Herniated & Bulging, and causing pain. I have gone a couple of times getting that shot in my back, but that hurts like hell when that needle goes in, at least for me.
If I ask myself the Question, Am I Better Today than before surgery, I would have to say yes. When I first went to the Doctor I couldn't take a step without crying. I am on a daily dose of pain medicine taken twice a day, and that does not take care of it all, but it allows me to be able to function. Just go in there thinking about getting better, not 100%, but better than before... 20% less pain is better than 0%. Good Luck on the procedures you face... It sounds like we have alot of the same things going on...