I've had severe, disabling pain at L4-L5 from, among other things, DDD (I also have a bulge and a tear at this level). I was injured 4 years ago, and have not had surgery. I have often tried to explain to Dr's that aside from constant, chronic pain that increases with activity, I also have "episodic" pain where my back "goes out" (not a "flare", which I also get, but - "incidents", every couple of months, where I do something like get up wrong, and "hurt" my back again). Dr's generally glaze over when I talk about this. Despite the endless research I've done, I only found the quote below a couple of days ago on Spine-Health:
FROM SPINE-HEALTH ARTICLE ON DDD
"Most patients with degenerative disc disease will have some underlying chronic low back pain, with intermittent episodes of severe low back pain. The exact cause of these severe episodes of pain is not known, but it has been theorized that it is due to abnormal micro-motion in the degenerated disc that spurs an inflammatory reaction. In an attempt to stabilize the spine and decrease the micro-motion, the body reacts to the disc pain with muscle spasms. The reactive spasms are what make patients feel like their back has "gone out".
"The severe episodes of low back pain from degenerative disc disease will generally last from a few days to a few months before the patient goes back to their baseline level of chronic pain. The amount of chronic pain is quite variable and can range from a nagging level of irritation to severe and disabling pain, although severe, disabling pain is quite rare."
This is the ONLY reference I have ever found regarding this problem. I was just wondering if anyone else with DDD experiences this - what the Dr's have said, anything else you've read about this, or whatever.