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DDD and "abnormal 'micro-motion'"

CoyoteCCoyote Posts: 120
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
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:


"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.




  • Sorry I missed your post, I think I was down for the count this day but up feeling better a little now.

    This is what I read that was helpful http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/degenerative-disc-disease/degenerative-disc-disease-natural-degenerative-process

    If a disc is injured or degenerated, it may become painful because of the resultant instability from the disc injury, which in turn can lead to an inflammatory reaction which results in low back pain.
    Some people seem to have nerve endings that penetrate more deeply into the outer annulus than others, and this is thought to make the degenerated disc more susceptible to becoming a pain generator. Quoted from DDD at Spine health.

    My Pain Dr said I probably have nerve compression and sciatica from the DDD and my nerve endings are deeper and cause the pain. I'm still waiting 3 years for the "Cascade" to end. 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
  • I had a 5000 lb wall fall on me back in 2007 and when the doctors did their mri they discovered that I had severe DDD and since then my symptoms have progressed very rapidly. Low back pain, pressure and burnning sensations as well as pins and needle sensation down my left leg to my foot. I am currently doing physical therapy, aquatic therap and epiderals with no help at all. This the first time I have heard of micro motion.
  • My specialist just performed an EMG and allthough my nerve signals are within the average my left leg nerve signals are at the very minimum. Eventhough I have done 5 visits for aquatic therapy with no progress my doctor has ordered dry land therapy but my physical therapist told me there would be no sense in doing this because if the aquatic therapy did not help then dy land therapy would be senseless. I go back to see my specialist at the leatherman spine institute on the 29th and if there is no progress at that point then they will perform a myelogram, which is where they inject a die solution into my back and due another MRI to get a better look at the spine and nerves with better quality contrast much like an epideral. I have both posterior and anterior bulging but more posterior bulging at l4-l5 and l5-s1 and as I review my current MRI results I myself can see significant compression at these levels and I can also see a significant shifting of my s1 vertabre but usually the disk would shift posteriorly as I am told, mine shifts anteriorly. Also when I review my disks at these level they have a very dark signal, which basically means, as I have read, is where the disk has torn and healed many times over and instead of being a white healthy disk they show up as a very dark color and the nucleus pulpus has begone to harden and deteriorate, but still has created the bulging I have currently.
  • My muscles tend to spasm at cooler temp's, perhaps something variable in the biochemical muscular response, e.g., like the dope that paralyzes during sleep so we don't hurt ourselves with movement during dreaming. I learned to gently stretch before arising from sleep to avoid muscle pulls and panics until that dope dispelled. My most memorable back trauma felt like a disc slip during an over-extension. The lower back muscles reflexed to freeze my lower back. Unreal pain, worst I've ever suffered (including a nasty kidney stone). As Ian Fleming described in Casino Royale, the only time I passed out from physical pain. Since then, I've noticed that if my back gets too limber, the muscles can reflex as if in a protective panic and lock up my lower back. I've never sought treatment, so I'm just describing my impressions.

    Over the decades, I've learned various ways to cope and mitigate recurrences. The latest episode started after some unfamiliar, awkward labor, (replacing an overhead ceiling), during which I felt like one or more discs might be moving a bit too freely, perhaps some tendons or muscles were overworked. Then the usual immobilization drill began. It seems like some of the cause might be muscular, and some might be inflammation, e.g., of the disc(s). I keep my back warm, and gently move as much as I can. Recovery ranges from days to weeks. During winter, I usually sit with a heating pad on my lower back, and that seems to help.
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