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20 y/o just diagnosed with DDD...please help..

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
Hello everyone, I'm a 20 year old college student that was just diagnosed with DDD yesterday. I was genetically born with an L6 vertebrae and have degeneration in my L6 and L5 discs. My doctor told me the damage was pretty substantial and essentilly told me I have to stop playing sports and stop doing many of my favorite activities. The back pain started during my junior year during football, so the problem stemmed from an injury. However, since it took over 4 years to diagnose, the problem has gotten progressively worse. I play rugby and am a very active person, go to the gym at least 3 times a week and am always playing basketball or pickup football. These activities always caused me severe back pain and would leave me bed ridden or unable to walk pain free for days or eve weeks. However, I never thought that my problem was this serious and that all these activities were actually making my problem much worse. I was at a loss for words when I was given this information. I was just wondering if anybody has any advice on how to deal and live with this...I was pretty devestated when I was told that I pretty much have to change my entire life to avoid multiple surgeries and even with a change now, since i'm so young, surgery is almost inevitable later on in life. Any help would be greatly appreciated...anybody thats dealt with this before or had friends/family that have dealt with it. Thank you so much.


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I was 30 years old when my diagnosis of DDD was given.
    I had aches and pains as you for years and ignored them. If I had known of my issues I would of changed some things. I am now 47 and have had my 6th spinal surgery. Not a fun journey. Is it fair that we have to give up activities that we enjoy. no,but that being said only you know what causes your pain and know your limitations. There are some activities that I still participate in, one being skiing. Do I pay for it the next day? Without a doubt. I just do not ski as aggressive as I did before. It is all about learning your body and knowing what you can and cannot do.With trial and error you will find whats best for you.Good luck,
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    I am glad you have found this site, you will find plenty of support and lots of information on this forum.


    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Take a look at this video for some more information on DDD:


    In addition to the forums, there is tons of information on the website, written by practicing spinal surgeons and specialists.

    It may be that the sixth lumbar vertebra is the culprit in causing the DDD. If it is not somehow stabilized, it can move around and probably cause degenerative changes with the adjoining L-5 vertebra.

    I would suggest you get at least another opinion. You may find that another spinal specialist has an entirely different idea on how to treat you.

    However, if you plan on walking when you're in your 40s, sports that have major contact are probably not a great idea.

    Good luck. It is a heartbreaking situation when you have to contemplate giving up sports that are so important to you.

  • Thank you everybody for your input and support. I've decided to get another appointment with another doctor to get his input as well and see if he has some more information on my specific case. As I am just learning of this condition, it is going to take me a little bit to see just exactly how far I can push myself. It's still hard for me to accept the fact that i have to give up so much because of this...but it definately helps that i found this site and know there are other people going through this as well. If other people can adjust their life for it...then i know I have a chance to still live a full and substantial life. This is very much a learning process and i'm still in the very early stages of it. Thank you everybody again, I will continue to keep the boards posted and hopefully soon can help other people as you have helped me.
  • and have a long life ahead of you. Follow doctors orders and it will be much more comfortable. Good luck.
  • hey, I almost have the same exact story but I am a year ahead of you. I just turned 21 and I have been searching for over a year, I have some information if you want it. I private messaged you before I posted, it's past midnight right now and I signed up just so I could talk to you. Read my message, hear me out. I have tried a lot of things to help my back and if our situations are close to the same, like they sound, I may save you sometime and pain.
    Jamie Perlmutter
    ps I put my email in the private message feel free to email me.
  • I'm sorry you are going through all of this at such a young age. I was finally diagnosed with DDD earlier this month and like you, was devastated and started crying while my doctor read my MRI results (there was more than just the DDD). I too feel that surgery for my back will be in my future down the road (for right now I'm getting one surgery in January, not on my spine, but to reduce the weight from the front side that isn't helping my spine).

    I've been dealing with the pain from my neck/back since I was 18 though. Definitely get yourself to other doctors for more opinions to make sure you're getting the best treatment option possible. I only recommend that you don't jump into surgery right away. Try other means of controlling the pain and such as surgery sometimes isn't the answer for everyone and can cause additional pain after. Just make sure you're trying all options first. :)

    Good luck with everything. You'll find a great deal of support from everyone on this site. Feel free to contact me any time since I know what it's like to start dealing with the pain at such a young age.
  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H you sound like a very sharp, intelligent person who realizes you must make some life changes.. it is so difficult being a young person and having to do this!! stick close to S-H. you will make some good friends and get loads of info on your condition... :D i know it is not the same but swimming is something you should be able to do... talk to your doctor or pt if you are interested.. :-C good luck to you and keep us informed of your progress. :D Jenny :)
  • I started having problems with my back when I was 21. At 22, I went to a specialist and was I told I had ddd. It was devastating. I started to just sob in the examine room. I had surgery at 23.I am 26 now. I had gone through all the steps until I personally decided to have the surgery. I had a round of steroids, went to a chiropractor, and had epidural shots into my back 2 at a time(usually you only do one). I will tell you will have bad days. The hardest thing for me to hear, you will hear it, "you are too young". It would tear me up inside but I would smile and say " i know". You can have a life. I work 30 plus hours a week and raise a baby. I got pregnant 6 months post-op. That was hard and I had issues. I did have to have a c-section because my back couldn't take labor and delivery. But you can do it.Ok maybe not pregnancy lol, but you can have a normal life. You just have to do small things. The best thing go to physical therapy. They will teach you how to walk,stand,sit,etc and it helps sooo much. There will be things you can't do. I can't hold my child for long periods of time or carry her around. But i enjoy my time. Good luck! also remember it's ok to be angry sad depressed but don't let it rule you. just adjust i promise you can.
  • Hiya :D , Welcome To Spine Health >:D< .Firstly i want to say you are so so young and i am sorry for your pain and discomfort >:D< , but One thing i can say you are in the right place O:) . We are one big family here ;) , we are here for you if you want a rant or just to ramble on :) . Have a good look around the site you will find some good and some useful information >:D< . My advice is "EXCEPTANCE" is the key! :)

    Angie :H
  • im 30 and been dealing with this crap since i was 23. i have it in my L3, L4, L5 and spreaded into my S1. it sucks. i cant work for more than 3 months without pain starting back up, i have to lie to employers of why i walk with a limp or crooked. i tell them that i hurt my leg, cause i know if i would have told them the truth i would have been let go for being a liability. just like what happened with my previous job. i was working for a temp at wal-mart.com and my back went out on me over the weekend, had to tell wife to call ambulance to get me and coulnd't return. i was fixing to get hired on in 2 weeks. i hid my problem for almost a year dealing with the pain. they told me to get a release from the doctors and i could come back to work. in reality, i cant get a release. that is why i have to lie to employers. i hope you(well, NOBODY) get this bad
  • Hey

    Sorry to hear of your diangnosis. It is really hard to deal with this stuff when you are young. I am 23 now and have been dealing with DDD, disc problems since I was about 15. I think one of the hardest things (aside from not being able to do normal stuff) is that friends our age don't understand. Its not normal for young people to be crippled with pain from playing a game of football, or in my case walking through the mall for a few hours. So...thats one thing that Ive noticed is really difficult. My friends don't get it because they have never had to deal. So...sitting out for a game, or a walk around the mall seems more like an excuse. If you ever want to talk feel free to send me a message. I know that personally it has been nice for me to find other young people on the boards to talk to because before I came on here, I didnt know of anyone close to my own age with similar problems. I hope you get some answers from your second opinion.

    Best of luck,
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