Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

How Did This Happen??? New Dx & Freaking Out!!

WildewomanWWildewoman Posts: 30
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
2 weeks ago my DH & I were in Aruba on vacation - SCUBA diving, long walk on the beach - running - I was running 3 miles a day. In fact - today I was to run in a 5 K (my first!!)

Then I went back to work - and woke up with screaming pain in my left butt - emailed my doctor who ordered Tramadol & said it sound like sciatica. The meds didn't help - I went to see her - I was in such pain she have me a shot of morphine & called my DH to come & get me. She then ordered Percocet.

That did not help - the pain is intense - can't sleep.

I e-mail her & she ordered Oxycontin & muscle relaxer & then a referral to a rehab doctor. I limp in to see him on Thursday - he does some tests in his office & says I have a slipped disc that is pinching on a nerve. He orders Prednison & neurontin & more percocet. I have been working form home for 5 days now.

He orders a spine x-ray (did that)
and an MRI - got insurance approval & it is next Thursday.

Friday - I get the results of the spine X-ray it reads:

There is severe degenerative narrowing of the L5-S1 disc space
with retrolisthesis, likely due to degenerative disc, ligamentous
and facet joint disease.

I FREAK OUT!! I am 51 years old - NEVER had back pain, never been sick, do yoga weekly, run daily & now my doctor calls me & tells me I need to take off 6-8 weeks of WORK!!
I am the boss of 46 staff & can't be away for that long.

He reassures me that I am fine. That there is "nothing wrong with me" - just take the meds & do not run.

He ordered PT - which I can start when the pain is better - and it is getting better - I can sleep now & stand for short periods of time without crying out loud.

SO - what does this all mean??

Is there a wheelchair in my future?

And the meds - I feel like a hummingbird on caffiene & my face is beet red. I am always thirsty.

Are there any restrictions? My doctor said "listen to your body".

Any stretches or exercises I can do to help the pain?

I called my boss & she will let me flex my schedule for the next few weeks- in the office for a few hours - then home to my recliner & work. I do mostly computer work.

Thanks so much for listeing. I knew as as soon as I read the results that there would be a forum out there!! :-)


  • Welcome to Spine-Health. There's a lot of information on this site that can help you research your problems, in the form of articles and videos and you've found a wonderful support and knowledge base in the forums.

    First of all, don't freak out. We can all tell you here how difficult it is to find out that you have spine problems and none of us forget the onset of our spine journey.

    But, with that said, it's not necessarily a sentence to a wheelchair and definitely not a death sentence. There are many of us, myself included, who were living a perfectly normal life and one day *BOOM* our spiney journeys began.

    You're doing everything you can and should - getting imaging and talking with a competent and caring doctor getting the help you need.

    One thing to keep in mind is that Degenerative Disk Disease (DDD) is a a very misleading term. It's really not a "Disease" in and of itself and every person on earth has DDD as they get older - it's just the extent of the degeneration as we age that make it a problem for some of us and not others. So at 51 it's no surprise that you have DDD and it probably isn't the major factor in your pain.

    Your doctor sounds great in his assessment of your problems, that PT and rest will help and it has worked for many in your situation. Just do what he says and you may be back to your old self in a few months. Running may be a problem in your future, but with the proper restrictions for a designated period of time, it might not be.

    Are you taking flexiril? I think that might be why you're thirsty all the time if that's what you're taking. I take it and it really does make you thirsty. Drinking lots of water is good for you anyway so that's not horrible. But if it becomes a problem, you can try other muscle relaxers that may not have the same side effect. By the way, with spine issues, muscle spasms are very common and I'd say most if not all of us here are on muscle relaxers on a regular basis.

    So, Wildewoman, hang in there and please try not to freak out. You can read many stories on here, but keep in mind that those that have gotten past their spine problems, whether they fixed them through conservative measures or had surgery, they not longer post here because they don't need the support they once got here. They're out living their lives, so please don't judge how spine problems are totally by what you read on these forums.

    Take care of yourself, follow doctors orders, and please keep us posted. For those like yourself, many have found these forums and this site a godsend because many of our family and friends don't understand what it's like to live with these problems. Reach out to us any time and like I said, please keep us posted.

    Feel free to PM me any time if there's any way I can help you.

  • I also want to welcome you to the Spine-Health support forum. :)

    Cathie has said it all already, and said it eloquently to boot. It is so true that we all remember the day we began our spine journey! Mine started at age 25 when I did a stupid thing and herniated my L4-5 disc. I thought I would never feel better, but I did. After a period of intense pain, I began to feel better and went on with my life. Never did see a doctor because we had no insurance at the time and I didn't need him to tell me what I already knew--I'd hurt my back. Yes, all the years since then (37) I've had backaches every night and points in time where my back would "catch" in breathtaking pain, but I've gotten by fine until now. Am 2 1/2 weeks post-op 2-level lumbar fusion and doing well, but that doesn't mean that's where you're headed.

    What I'm trying to say here is that your acute pain may get better and you may be able to go back to your active lifestyle. Nobody can know for sure but you do have one thing on your side--at least you're getting treatment. As Cathie pointed out, everyone develops DDD as they age, only most people never experience any problem from it and go on their happy way. You were one of those people until that morning when you woke up in pain. I'm certainly not trying to diagnose, here, but maybe something moved a bit in your back during your scuba diving and running on the beach (wonderful vacation!) and it may have inflamed a nerve root. If that nerve can calm down and return to normal, you may be able to go on in relative comfort for a while. No need to freak out until someone tells you there's a problem which will never get better, and then there's still no need to freak over it. There are wonderful treatments and technologies these days for helping spine patients. Try to relax for now while your doctor is taking you through the process of finding out what will and won't work for you. Be thankful that your superior will allow you flex time. Try not to worry because that creates tension which translates to increased pain. Things will work out, they may just take a little time. We'll be here to give you a shoulder to cry on and to share our experiences in the hopes they may help you. :)

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Thanks!! I am feeling better - but I feel just weird - heavily medicated. I don't smoke or drink & I feel like I'm in afog.

    Yes - I am on flexeral - so that explained the thirst.

    What about the cherry red face?
    And the feeling like I am a hummingbird on speed?

    Then I crash - just got up for a 3 hours nap.

    My MRI is this Thurday - then I see my specialist the following week.

    Any exercises or stretches I can do?

    If I can'r run (gulp) what can I do??

  • Welcome to Spine Health. One thing I learned is not to put the cart before the horse. Until you have a definitive diagnosis and speak with the doc on your future prognosis, don't think you have to give up on all the activities you love. I had a ton of people tell me that I would have to give up on things I love and things that define me. "You will have to modify your lifestyle tremendously" they would say. Well, guess what ... after 7 lumbar surgeries, 2 cervical surgeries and 3 surgeries for a spinal cord stimulator, I can still scuba dive, exercise, ride horses and work in my garden and yard. I cannot run on hard surfaces any more, but I can jog on soft surfaces and treadmills for short distances and walk as much as I want. Patience, determination and attitude have a ton to do with rehabbing or recovering from a spine injury.

    It's difficult in the early stages to be patient and to ride it out. My point is that don't let anyone convince you that you will have to permanently write things off, unless it is your doc and the doc is specifically outlining why. It's so easy to just give in and give up when the pain is so bad or comes back so easily. My surgeon convinced me that I could do anything I set my mind to. I took that to heart and every day I live up to it to the best of my ability. I'm 48 and plan on leading a very active life for a very long time to come.

    One thing about the dry mouth, that can also be attributed to the Neurontin. If you read the information sheet your pharmacy gave you with it, it will list that it's important to drink lots of water when taking Neurontin.

    I get the bright red face a lot of times when my pain levels go up. My husband can always tell when I am hurting, sometimes even before I realize it is building.

    Welcome once again. As you can see this is a great place for information. Sometimes almost overwhelmingly so.

  • Thank you so much!!

    I have been reading a lot about DDD & am feeling somewhat better (mentally) I am not crying about it today - so that is good!!

    We are a very active couple - & I just can't imagine not being so. WE cruise every January with a group of close to 80 - and this January we are planning on diving on Roatan. . . .sigh . . . .

    I am going into the office today for a few hours - then home to rest & medicate.

    Do you think massages would help?

    I am trying to find some exercises &/or stretches to help my back. I am also researching other redmedies - like joint juice?? or Boniva??

    Can anyone speak to these - as a laymen??

    Thanks so much again.


  • Hi again.

    I'm glad you're feeling better, mentally at least. If I were in your shoes, I'd wait and talk to a PT to find out what exercises or other treatments are best for you. I really found it amazing what they had me do both pre-ACDF surgery and post TLIF surgery. Things you'd think wouldn't be good for you are and vice versa.

    Without us knowing your exact situation and because we aren't doctors, it's really unfair to you (and this site) to suggest exercises or natural treatments. Those are questions for a professional and since your doc referred you to PT, that would be a great place to start.

    Take care of yourself and let us know how you're proceeding and getting along. And if you see a PT, please let us know what they say.

  • Thanks so much Cathie I'll let you know how things go!!

  • was fine one day and woke up with severe screaming butt pain the next. And today I am disabled with severe nerve damage.

    I highly recommend for now you be super careful and do not bend, lift or twist until you know more. If your disc is bulging, every time you lean over, twist to do the dishwasher, or lift something off the floor, you are risking further injury.

    I was told this advice and ignored it. Had 3 surgeries in 12 months and now here I sit. Please don't be me.

    Because I had the pain in my butt, I could not believe I had back issues!! Standing for 3 days training new agents is what triggered mine. Any sitting or standing for long periods can trigger this, along with activity.

    For now, don't even bend over to brush your teeth. Pull up a chair. The MRI will be most helpful.

    I also strongly recommend MANUAL physical therapy, instead of traditional physical therapy. They work entirely different than traditional therapy. Please try to find one in your area and get a consult to compare. Traditional physical therapy made me WORSE and my final neurosurgeon admitted he rarely sends his spinal nerve patients to PT because of this issue - they often get worse. He finally had one PT he personally trained to not hurt his patients (sometimes the patient presents looking "fine" and the PT pushes too hard.)

    I wish I had listened to all advice, but I was "too busy" and couldn't slow down. Now I do nothing BUT that.

    Good luck!

  • Thank you Cheri for sharing your story with me.

    I must admit - today I am feeling a little anxious. My doctor called me last night to see how I was feeling (I worked for 4 hours - then came home - took my meds & worked from my lazy boy - computer work)

    She said she wants to change my pain medication & wants me on Morphine!! That seems pretty strong!! She said it is a low dose that I could take4-6 hours & should get relief. Believe me - I WANT relief!! So I asked her WHY - had she looked at the spine x-ray & thought it was worse - she said no - she just wanted me comfortable. I trust her - she has been the best PCP!! Answer e-mails - calls us, etc.

    So now I wait for the MRI - then we'll get the treatment plan.

    I asked her about restrictions - driving, lifting weights (small dogs) working, etc. and she said "listen to your body."


  • Here it is:

    Report: It is again assumed that there are five
    lumbar type vertebrae present. Lumbar spine alignment appears
    intact. Vertebral body heights are well maintained. No
    significant vertebral body marrow signal abnormalities are
    identified. The L1-2 and L2-3 levels appear grossly normal.
    L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1 levels demonstrate degenerative spondylosis
    with degenerative disk disease with diffuse disk bulges and
    posterior element degenerative changes with ligamentum flavum
    hypertrophy and facet joint degenerative change and hypertrophy.
    The degenerative spondylosis results in mild to moderate
    foraminal narrowing at the L4-5 and L5-S1 levels. In addition,
    there is a more focal left far lateral disk protrusion present at
    the L4-5 level resulting in more pronounced left-sided foraminal
    stenosis at this level. Mild central stenosis on a degenerative
    basis is also present at the L4-5 level. The conus medullaris is
    within normal limits.

    IMPRESSION: Multilevel degenerative spondylosis resulting in
    mild to moderate foraminal narrowing at the L4-5 and L5-S1 levels
    with focal left far lateral disk protrusion at the L4-5 level
    resulting in more severe left-sided foraminal stenosis at this

    Can any one translate this??

  • It's best to wait to talk to your doctor in regards to your results from your MRI. They'll be able to correlate your physical exam with the results and give you a proper interpretation. Without the physical exam, its just pictures.

  • Prednisone is renowned for causing the bright red face - I know it well!! If you're on it for a long period of time, you might also get night sweats, as it plays havoc with your hormones. One word of advice - make sure you wean off if you're on it for more than 7 days; if your doctor didn't tell you that, your pharmacist can give you more information. Prenisone will also make you feel agitated, which explains the "hummingbird on speed". What dosage are you on, and for how long?

    Everyone has stated very well that DDD is not the end of the world, and sometimes it will never progress from the point you're at. Yes, there will be some miserable "down" times, but you will quickly learn to listen to your body and take it easy. All of us have had to alter our lifestyles in some way or another, but there are other options out there - you just have to keep looking!

    Take care and good luck.


  • Hi wildwoman,
    I think in this day and age that if a MRI was done on a 13 year old they would come back as DDD. It is just a new word. THAT is something to NOT worry about. It does sound like you hurt a disc and it is pressing on a nerve. Probabally the sciatica nerve. Moving around will help this. Rest helps. Oxicontin is highly addictive. More than percocet if you were not aware of this. A herniated disc is the same thing as a slipped disc. And Yes it will slip back into place. I suggest you go out with your boyfrind walking like you had been doing before, that way your not alone and if you need help he can assist you. But just walk like you normally do. You have a normal sway or wiggle that makes your walk unique to you. Your body needs to find that. Then take a hot soak in the tub, sleep and see if you wake up with it slipped back into place. Good luck. I hope this helps. I probabally have a few more ideas if I thought about it for a while. lol Just let me know how your doing if you want any more ideas just ask. TC
  • Thanks so much!! Any ideas would be appreciated!! I see PT tomorrow - so I hope they can help with the pain.

Sign In or Register to comment.