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Upper back DDD or is it arthritis?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,662
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
Hello gang!

Its been awhile since I've posted but I've been lurking.
I recently went to the VA for treatment again, and they volunteered a new MRI! I was shocked. I went in for the MRI and everything seemed to go smoothly.
My doctor got the reading back and the films seemed to show the same thing the last MRI showed, except the doctor referred to what the last film showed to be DDD as Arthritis. I am still a bit unclear about the whole situation going on with my back now.
The docs took me off of percocet cold turkey with a three week taper off of Morphine. I am 10 days "clean" and the detox was hell, but I'm coping and I think my body function is just now starting to get back to "normal".
I have been put on prozac for my "clinical depression" and gabapentin for the back pain. I do not feel either medication is working for one reason or another.
Since I have started the gabapentin I have begun to twitch. The sensation is almost like I have wires on my joints making me jump from time to time. Sometimes, the twitches are really visible and violent(not the word I want but can't come up with better at the moment).

I digress.

Is DDD considered Arthritis? A nurse at a VA clinic heard me say what I had and said in a dismissive tone, "Its just arthritis, you'll be fine." I am tired of going to the VA for treatment and getting dismissed as if the pain I feel is not important. They are always very careful to say if I feel pain then the pain is real. It just seems like the VA is just trying to dismiss me. I don't really want to get back on the narcotics, as the detox was/is hell. The kicker of the matter is the VA does not seem to have anything to do for me to deal with the pain. Handle the depression with prozac and Gabapentin for the pain (which isn't working for any of my pain as far as I can tell).

I'm a broken record, can't sleep, and almost angry to the point of aggression and violence (which sucks because there isn't anything around to get violent with, and even if there were the movement would cause me more pain).
Tired of the pain.
Tired of the pills.
Tired of the insomnia.
Tired of the fatigue.
Tired of it all.
Just tired.

I think I'm going to try to go to sleep now. Sorry for the rambling. If you can discern my question in all this and can answer, I'd love it. I guess the Title says it all. Yay, now my carpal tunnel is kicking in. Or perhaps my fingers just wanted to get to sleep before me.


With manic mania and crazy crackers in my bed,
aka Joren


  • long time no talk.
    glad mri shows youre not terribly worse.
    arthritis and ddd are different. arthritis hits the bones and they get calcified. almost like iron getting rusted. it happens where there is a lot of movement and wear. the disks are like cushions that reduce the forces in between the bones of the spine. as they age the fluids start to dry up and the cushion effect diminishes. as people age they lose height because the discs dont hold you up too well. arthritis and ddd are both diseases of deterioration but one is of bones and the other of disks.
    we gave you a bunch of ideas on youre last post. what do you think of those ideas.
    that neurontin doesnt seem to help you. i was on it too and drs made me take it even though it did nothing for my pain. my legs swelled up on it so i stopped it...
    i hope the va comes up with solution....best of luck....pete
  • I've gotten about 3.5 hours of sleep and I feel almost human again. I still have an underlying current of pain in my joints making me want to twitch. Anyway.

    I discussed with the doc some of the things mentioned in the other post, but she said she did not feel they were 'necessary at this time'. I think she is under the impression all my pain is from depression, or the 'arthritis' is my issue. I distinctly asked her if the arthritis was due to the DDD and she said yes. She wanted to put me on another narcotic, albeit a mild one, but it was the same one the doctors put me on putting me on the road to percocet and morphine. Both of which never really helped in the first place, only taking the edge of for an increasingly short amount of time as my tolerance built up.
    I'm worried about even thinking about surgery because the doctors I went to said the risks were worse than my current situation, ie paralysis, increased pain from scar tissue, bowel control loss, motor function loss due to nerve damage. All that versus just back pain now. I'll take the pain, if I HAVE to make the choice.

    The VA is supposed to take care of me, not shuffle me around until my head spins from it.

  • Here is some good information taken from the Spine Health website under "arthritis:"
    "Degenerative discs and osteoarthritis often occur hand in hand because the disc and facet joints (the joints in the back affected by osteoarthritis) are both part of the same three-joint complex. It is thought that degenerating discs can place undue stress on the facet joints, thus over time leading to degeneration and formation of osteoarthritis in the facet joints (also called zygapophyseal joints). This may be why the two degenerative conditions are so often seen together. If the disc as well as the facet joints become painful as a result of degenerative changes in the spine, the condition is often called spondylosis. However, degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis are different conditions and can occur separately: one can have degenerative discs without any facet osteoarthritis; or one can have facet osteoarthritis without degenerative discs."

    Gabapentin is normally given for nerve pain...like when nerve is compressed and is causing sciatic pain down the leg. It has a number of side effects and depending on your type of pain, it may not be doing anything for you.
  • I think the best way to found out the exact diagnosis is to consult with a doctor.
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