A herniated disc, especially in the area of L5 can be very painful. The therapies that you have begun (exercise program and physical therapy) are the best first steps towards getting your symptoms under control. However, if you have been participating in physical therapy for the last year and a half without improvement, then you should begin thinking about other therapies. The idea is that after the intervertebral disc herniates, it take some time for that area to break down and disappear. Physical therapy helps this and symptoms are controlled with Acetaminophen or anti-inflammatories. You should continue them while until you are told otherwise by your doctor
If you have truly made an honest attempt at physical therapy for your back without results in the last year and a half, then you should consider exploring the next level of therapies. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon
. The first thing you will need is some fresh imaging of your spine to see if the original herniation is still pressing on the nerve. If it is, then you can explore the most non-invasive measures to relieve this problem. This include minimally invasive surgery
or interventional radiology procedures. If the herniation has resolved and you still have pain, then you symptoms may be helped by special medicines for neuropathic pain which can occur after an injury has healed.