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Can DDD be "caused" or made worse by a bad fall?

LumbarLynneLLumbarLynne Posts: 67
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
I had bad back pain 2 years ago and my MRI showed that my disc wasn't great - not enough water in it - but everything suggested just mild problems and no DDD was mentioned at all. During the next 2 years, my pain got worse, I went to see a Chiropractor who really helped my pain get under control as I have many tight muscles and my psoas was very tight. After seeing her for a while, I was definitely doing much better although still in pain. Then I was attacked by a dog, fell, broke my L1 vertebrae and my pain in my L5/S1 got a lot worse. I got a new MRI which now showed severe DDD with severe endplate erosion and arthritis. It was the pain from this that lead me to go do the fusion instead of just managing the pain with a chiropractor. So, my question is - how much damage of DDD can be caused by a fall or is it just that the damage was there but the fall aggravated it to a much higher level?


  • DDD is a age related disease. I doubt a injury or fall made it worse. Arthritis is a age related disease too. I have both conditions and never fell. I have facet joint disease which is a form of arthritis and the DDD in my entire spine. You get herniated disks from a injury or a pinched Nerve. I personally never heard of getting a disease from a injury. Hope this helps. :)
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • I would guess that it is a combination of both. While it is true that arthritis is an age-related, degenerative disease, you can also develop arthritis from injury. Just ask anyone who has been involved in a bad car crash. They are almost always told to expect to develop arthritis down the road as a result of the impact.

    I don't have enough medical knowledge to be able to explain the process, but it all has to do with the chain reaction that is set off by an inflammatory event.

    I found this online:
    "A sudden (acute) injury leading to a herniated disc (such as a fall) may also begin the degeneration process."

    Hopefully your surgery has taken care of whatever was going on and you won't have any further problems.
  • As for your question "If a fall can make it worse"

    Let me tell what happen to me, I have had DDD since I have been 23, it started with 2 discs. It was doing okay and about 4 years ago(08/05) I started having trouble sleeping, so they did a MRI. My DDD increased to 8 discs. but it was okay. I was running 7-10 miles a day.

    Then in March of 2006, I fall off my front porch, it was icy. I flew 10 feet in the air and landed on my back. I ended up having a compression fracture. The doctor told me it could take 3 months and I would be back to normal.
    Well guess what I never got better. And I ask the doctor what happen?
    He told me that when I fell I just hurried things along. It was going to happen sooner or later. From the fall I just made it happen sooner.
  • Hi - I saw your reply to another post - do you know where you saw the quote about the fall leading to the herniated disc that could cause the beginning of the degeneration?

    I have both and the insurance is battling over what came first - the degeneration or the herniation.

    Thanks for your time
  • I was diagnosed with Spondylosis (DDD), bone spurs, stenosis and radiculopathy (arms/hands getting number) about 1.5 months ago.

    MRI showed only damage at C5/C6 and evidence of an old injury that had healed (vertebrae cracked and spread). Based on amount of bone shown in MRI (and pulled out during ACDF) Dr. figured this was a very old injury - 10-20 years in the making. We *think* we have it tracked down to an old whiplash injury when I was hit from behind and put my head through the back window of a pickup truck (no headrest) when I was in college.

    I shook that off originally and was fine...but now 42 and for last year have been a very intense exercise program which led to the radiculopathy and pain in arm/shoulder. Turns out my disk had herniated worse in recent year and pieces of the disk were free floating and compressing nerves - in addition to stenosis.

    I had surgery 12 days ago (ACDF) with plate and cadaver. They pulled out a bunch of crap and were surprised by the disk material (hadn't shown on MRI). Feel great and other levels look good. So far I'm sailing through this - but for me this traces back to a)an original injury b)aging. Good Luck!
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