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New & Diagnosed with DDD and possible surgery soon

missy9mmissy9 Posts: 16
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
I am a 32 year old SAHM and have been suffering from back pain for over 7 years! I have always been told that I "pulled a muscle". I knew that couldn't be possible because I couldnt keep pulling a muscle every few months or so. Finally August of this year I got an MRI. I had a ct scan about 6 years ago that showed nothing but a herniated disk that the dr said couldnt be causing my pain. The MRI showed that I had degenerative disk disease but my pcp said that shouldnt be causing my pain either.

Well I found a new pcp who refered my to a neuro and my DDD is pretty bad. He showed me the MRI and my vertebra effected where all black in between. There is no cushion left and he basically said it was bone on bone. The neuro said I was a good candidate for surgery but he wanted to do a bone scan first. I got that done last week and am now waiting for the results.

I am just so tired of the pain. At first it would come and go and now I have been in constant pain for almost 8 months now. I also have scatica on my left leg. It is so bad I cannot sit at all anymore unless it is a very short time. If I do I cant get out of bed for at least 3 days. So I am pretty much stuck laying down all day. It is horrible to not have a life anymore. I just cant wait to get this surgery overwith. My new pcp had surgery recently with the same neuro and is great now.

I have been reading here and I am really sorry some of you are not able to get the help you need!


  • like mine... You have come to a great place. Everyone on this web site knows exactly what you are going through.

    The first 3 1/2 years of off and on back pain were treated the way yours was. I was sent off (no x-ray or anything) and prescribed muscle relaxers and pain killers. It was finally when I went to see a chiro in Nov. 2005 that I was finally told I had DDD. Look at my signature for what happened next.

    Surgery is being held off for me until I am at the point that I am at risk for permanent nerve damage or paralysis. I am in constant pain. Back and sciatic pain.

    I would get more opinions if I were you, just to be safe. The problem with fusions is that it's not a guaranteed 100% fix. You risk trading the pain you have now for new pain that comes with the surgery. I have learned this from my various doctors, as well as people right here on this board that have had surgery.

    I'm not trying to scare you. Please don't get me wrong. But definitely do your homework. Fusions have been very successful for some, but not for others.

    I did have some relief when I had my microd in Jan 2008, but it was short lived. Have your tried epidurals or facet block injections? One general consensus here is that ALL conservative treatment should be tried first before having a fusion. We are not doctors or anything. This is all based on simply personal experience.

    Again, welcome to the board!!!!! This board saved me. You get a lot of "oh, I'm sure the pain is bad, bla bla bla", but no one truly understands unless they have been through it themselves.

  • Welcome to SH :H I'm sorry you had to go through a long time in pain and undiagnosed. At least now they know what is wrong and they can try different treatments to lessen the pain. Surgery is usually reserved for when the DDD is severe. I also have it severe in L4-S1 but the primary reason I had surgery was for herniated discs. My first surgeon thought of doing a fusion too but went with a less invasive procedure. I ended up having a fusion because I reherniated the same disc and had other problems such as instability.

    I know what you're going through because I spend my days laying down because it hurts to sit, stand, walk, etc. Unfortunately my surgeries didn't take the pain away and this is a risk you take with any spinal surgery. If you do decide to have surgery, I hope it is successful and that you can get back to doing the things you once did. But first research all you can about your condition and learn about all the treatment options available. Take care
  • Caity, thanks for the welcome. I am sorry to hear you where dismissed too! I think dr's dont like to believe younger adults can have anything really wrong with them.

    What is a epidurals or facet block injections. I recently had it suggested to me by the neuro but it was some type of steroid injection and I can't have those. Three years ago I was dx with Cushings disease and had 2 pituitary surgeries, and a bilateral adrenalectomy to be finally be cured. Its complicated but now I am supposed to avoid steroids any steriods but the ones I have to take daily. If it is not a steroid I could try it.

    So far I have tried a chiro and physical therapy all of which just made the pain worse. The only thing pt did was help me learn how to control the pain in my leg.

    Thanks, for giving me some options. I know this surgery is a big deal. I never wanted to have to do it but living with constant pain is hard. I hate that I have to take strong rx meds just to get out of bed. I will ask the neuro about the injections if they are steroid free. Is it just a temporary fix though or does it really help?

    Mayday, thanks for sharing your experience. I am so sorry it didnt fix the pain. I will do some research about my options to make an informed choice. I am glad you both shared your experience with me. It is good to know the good and bad.

    Also I did a x ray last week where they had me bend it different ways too see if my spine moves too much. When my back goes out I can feel it slip if that makes since. Also my old pcp was pushing on my lower back and completely screwed it up worse. It had popped at least twice and put me in way more pain than I was in when I got there! So he said that my spine was too mobile. So that might be a reason to look into fusion.



  • As far as I know, epi's do have steriods. There might be a non-steriod type, but I don't think so. Facet joints are a tiny little joint on each side of your vertabrae. Those tend to get arthritic when there isn't proper support (disk gone). They inject those directly when they feel those might be the culprit. I've been told (and have experienced) that epi's generally only help sciatica, not back pain. My sciatica was gone after each epi for only a couple of days, and the back pain never really left. It is protocol usually, especially for insurance purposes.

    I saw a chiro for two years. He was fantastic, but my back finally gave out. I can't do physical therapy. Everything hurts my back.

    I was/am like you about just getting the surgery done. But at the same time, I'm just coping day to day, until that day comes.

    I'm really glad you joined this board! It's so great to have a place to go where everyone knows what you are going through.

    Talk to you soon!

  • I have been in the process of getting help for my back for the last 4 years. I had a MD in March 2006, and had 8 months of no pain, then the pain started coming back. I have been under the care of a PMP and he has given me everything from nerve root blocks to prolotherapy, to ESI to an MRI all to no help. The Mri showed that I had severe DDD and a misalignment of the L5-S1 vertebra. He referred me to an orthopaedic speacialist thinking that maybe i need a disc replacement or fusion. I came out of the Ortho's office in tears. Describing the pain 'properly' to someone with no empathy was demoralizing to say the least. At one point in the exam he was doing a strength test on my left leg which turned out not to be very strong. He said that my hip is the issue.. I couldn't believe it.. my hip doesn't hurt and has never hurt! I felt like screaming "its my back stupid"! Not once during our whole meeting and my husband was with me, did he mention anything about my DDD or the L5-S1 vertebra. I am getting so sick of my pain being treated properly;whether you are fighting for pain medications that help or getting into doctors. It is exhausting.
    This doctor I went to also recommending a bone scan to check for infection or arthrtis. Missy9, what is the bone scan like? Keep me up to date with your results... i would love to hear.
  • I'm sorry you've had so much pain for so long. I also have DDD and it shows mild on the MRI but I have severe pain from it for 2 years on disability. I can't understand why your PCP says that the DDD shouldn't cause so much pain but it can to some people especially since DDD seems to cause disc herniation I just had the same at L5-S1. The Surgeon said they won't do surgery on me since I have no misalignment or spondy. Good luck if you have surgery I hope that will help stabilize your spine. Keep us posted on your bone scan results. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Sounds a lot like me, I have varying DDD in L3 through S1 with annular tears in all three also. This winter I spent months in bed, at times not able to sit, stand or walk much at all. Last month I got a facet injection, which turned out to give me relief and then proceeded with a nerve burn, where they kill the nerves that go to the facet joint with radio frequency (all done through needles) and it has helped me so much.

    I am now able to be up with my family and almost able to have normal days. I was pulling my hair out and looking for someone to operate because my pain was too much and now I have changed my outlook. This is something that can be done without steroids and my be worth looking into for you, it can last up to 18 months before the nerves grow back and can be done numerous times.

    Just something to explore before you go down the surgery route. Best of luck finding something to give you some relief and get your life back. Keep us informed on how you are doing and what treatment you will be getting.

  • I sympathize regarding your pain. Make sure that you have concordance of opinion regarding the interpretation of your MRI. Also consider lower extremity nerve testing to determine if you have any objective evidence of nerve damage. In the absence of the latter, consider more than simple western medication treatment for your symptoms. Consider:
    1. Weight loss if substantially overweight.
    2. Consider changing your anti-inflammatory.
    3. Consider neurontin, lyrica and cymbalta.
    4. Cannabis is great as a complement of or replacement for NSAIDs and opiates and products listed in 3., if medically legal in your State. Marinol is not nearly as good pharmacologically.
    5. Get a good PT regimen including work on a large exercise ball and high quality inversion machine (try latter at 15 degree tilt for 5 minutes at a sporting goods store).

    That is all for now.
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