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L5-S1 Disc gone

Hero9HHero9 Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:59 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi everyone, i'm new here and just trying to find some more information. I'm 17 years old and diagnosed with servere Degenerative Disc Disease and spinal steneois. My L5-S1 disc is completely gone which concludes why I have been having horrible lower back pain. I have never really heard about this condition and never really paid attention to it. I have been trying to do some research on it. So far i'm still rather confused why I have DDD at a young age and why one of my discs are already completely gone, again at such a young age. The doctor I had said it could be genetics and my life style, thou I am going to be getting a second opinion. Another question I have is I have started treatment of meds, physical therapy, and steroid shots, but since my disc is gone will it most likely lead to me having surgery to replace the disc?? The doctor who is an orthepedic suergon said that we will see how i'm doing with this treatment for 3 months and go from there, but i'm just curious if I will most likely end up having surgery. Now that I understand what is going on, I have so many questions!!!



  • Hi there!
    Wow, sorry you are having such issues at such a young age. Degenerative Disc Disease is actually quite common. I know I've had the 'condition' since about 20. Most folks have it and don't really notice an impact until they get older. It's a strong cause of lower back pain.

    Sounds like you had an MRI to know for sure. Right?
    Anyhow, from the MRI they can see disc quality. Hopefully they showed you the poor disc vs. good healthy one. Just because you have very little disc (near bone-on-bone) doesn't mean you'll need surgery. In fact, they will still try to treat you conservatively b/c lower back surgery is a major deal.

    The key is they are trying to get you relief from nerve impingement which can happen with inflammation (I think why they do the shots).

    As for Artificial disc - I will be surprised if that is an option for you if you are in the US. The technology still has some issues, especially when it fails (I think the 'shelf-live' is about 20 years).

    Did the doctor tell you what the next option would be if conservative treatment didn't work? I suspect fusion but even that is a big deal.

    I sure hope your conservative treatment works. A lot of time they are trying to get your core muscle group strong and reduce inflammation.

    Good luck.
  • I am sorry u are going through this,. Please remember DOCTORS opinions differ.. Makes no sense some times.. I have seen 3 different neuros and a ortho and everyone has different opinions and differeent types of surgery has been recommend from 3 LEVEL fusion to this and that.. I am NOT A EXPERT just givin u my advise..

    1) GET atleast 3 opinions before doing anything unless someone recommends emergency surgery then there must be a concrete reason behind it like CES symtoms, bladder stuff, etc but of coarse also get a few opinons.
    2) GET A GOOD MRI atleast a TESLA strenght of 1.5,, From my experience a RADIOLOGIST might say MILD stenosis, then a NEURO may say SEVERE and a ORTHO may said "Nahhh not that bad".. Get a good clean MRI...

    3) Be honest with your doctors but dont always tell them what other doctors told u.. Make them work and give u a diagnosis.. Its a small world and most of them know each other...

    Anyways I hope your issues are JUST 1 LEVEL L5-S1... Also remember everyones DIFFERENT.. You can have a PERSON with 1 BAD LEVEL in horrible pain and MUST have serious surgery or you can have someone with MULTIPLE level of disc issues for years and never need surgery!

    Good luck my friend!

  • Hi, so sorry you are having this problem at such a young age! I am 38 and started with a herniated L5-S1 disk with DDD at age 26, it progressed slowly over the years until about 4 years ago when I was told the disk was "dead" another termed it "gone". I was treated with low doses of narcotic pain meds along with epidural injections, acompanied over the years with various anti-inflammitories, lyrica, muscle relaxers, etc. I finally got to the point this year where I decided to have the disk fusion, 2 spacers, 2 rods, bone graft. It's only been about 3 weeks now but it did not relieve my pain or numbness, right knee randomly giving out. All I can say is try conservative as long as possible, and then if you decide to have the surgery, most likely and hopefully you will be among the greater number of people who have success! Good Luck, Hang in there, I know it gets depressing, just try to think positive!
  • I'm currently 8 months deep with a L5/S1 disc protrusion. I'm 25 years young.. my consition has gotten worse with laying around and trying to "forget" the misery im in. I have tried all conservative treatments. THEY JUST DONT WORK! The doctors say its not bad enough to consider surgery, but i think their wrong. I have no life other than laying around in pain. lost my job, life, muscle mass, depression is getting worse.... so, i think its time. Lets start begging for surgery. Ohh, and i dont take any pills other than anti immf. But, thats a joke. I tried some narcotic pain pills... i felt alittle better, but didnt last long. I dont want to be addicted... what do you guys think?
  • I thought I was young my pain started randomly when I was 24.Totally can be genetic. I think I got mine from my mom who had a bad back. I agree with the second and third opinions. Make sure one is a neurosurgeon, my neuro had a very different opinion than my ortho.

    Keep in mind too the the MRI is one piece of the puzzle. It may show an irregularity/defect but it may not be the pain generator so there are other tests and imaging that will perhaps be ordered/done (discography, CAT-scan, etc). If surgery is gonna happen you want to make sure that they know what is causing the pain so they can try and fix it and not just go in there based on an MRI.
  • Hero9,It sounds very painful for you,I am 48 I had surgery 6 weeks ago for spondylolisthesis which is the vertebra slipping forwards and compressing down on the disc and nerves,I was told I had this problem from birth due to the spine not forming properly,I had severe pain from around 16/17 years old unable to move at all at times,I have managed this all these years not knowing what was wrong until an MRI scan a few years back,I was told this is very common especially at L5/S1 and most people will never know they have it,it eventually caught up with me hence the operation in nov 2011 with pedical screws and fusion,it is going well so far with less pain in the lower back,not sure what to say next,should I have had surgery earlier or not?????????????? well I have damaged the nerves down my left leg and into my foot with muscle spasms.Had I had surgery earlier would I have prevented this????????? probably,you are very young to have this done get several opinions from good spinal surgeons with current MRI scans.

    All the best Des
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