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DDD vs. Facet Joint Disorders - massive disabling sudden pain episodes, what can I do??

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
I do have a DDD between L4/5, and it causes some pain, but not severe. I don't have pain in my legs, can usually sit, walk etc. What frustrates me are sudden episodes mostly occuring after getting up from a chair, park bank etc. which nearly paralyze me and put me literally out for at least 4 days, then it takes another week until I am back to nomral. The pain is so immense that I can't even sit and is mostly local in the lower back, getting up is almost impossible then, have the feeling my muscles are all cramped up when it happens. Have that twice a year now, and all my life is thinking about the next move I make....very frustrating!
Is anybody out thre who had that and found out what can be done. I don't care if I need surgery, but only want to do it, if it's the right one for the right problem. Thanks !!


  • :) i see this is your first post so i want to welcome you to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i have DDD in many of the same areas you do. also facet problems. perhaps this is a "flare-up" which many of us experience from every few weeks to a couple of times a year. ~X( rest and more rest is the only solution i can offer. I) perhaps talking to your doctor about this specific problem would be of some help. :-C good luck and i look forward to seeing you around the forum! Jenny :)
  • Welcome to Spine Health. I'm not sure that I follow what you are describing, but obviously it is bad when it happens. Have you been to see a spine specialist in regards to this yet? No one should have to live their life wondering if the next move is going to bring on such misery. I hope you can find some help soon.

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  • Hiya >:D< Welcome To Spine Health :) What you are describing sounds like muscles spasms :''( ( these are very painful, they take your breath when you try to move) :''( I can sympathize with you , because i have the same problem :) What you need to do is go see an orthopedic surgeon :S , or pain management :) You need some pain relief and muscle relaxers :? These will work wonders @) . Keep us posted about how you get on :D . PM me anytime. >:D<

    Angie :H
  • hi im new here but not to pain i have DDD at many levels also have 5 bulging discs the one that really bothers is T11-12 that is serious pain in chest ribs back and legs all the time that thoracic bulge is just starting to cause trouble for me . i also have a failed low back bone graft fusion , it didnt fuse together it failed left me unstable keept poping in and out i went to a center for pain relief and havehad epidural injections facet blocks at many levels i went to dr once as you described all locked up tight could barely move and wasnt easy i drove myself this way 45-50 miles to dr he took me in and injected my low back with steroid and a numbing agent mixed together well this is the honest truth i drove home and by the time i got there the 45-50 miles i was good no pain even got out my roto tiller and did my whole garden 25 by 25 all in all it really helped and it lasted about a year then one day reached for a coffee cup beside my recliner and click i was LOCKED UP AGAIN called the dr and he wouldnt give me an appt that day had to wait a month to see him i tried every thing i could think of ice ,heat hot shower, narcotics i even took twice what i should have i didnt care i wanted the pain to stop it did a month later when i went in to the dr he injected me again ,and again RELIEF in anbig way honest ,now the dr want to try and do a nerve ablation with electric needles to burn the nerve causing all the pain ive not agreed just yet as i want to hear from somebody who has had it themselves ,cause like the epidurals that hurt like oh my god really the dr doesnt give anything for the injection a local must be some sort of lidocane it dont work or he dont use enough them injections make me squirm all over and dr says hold still or ill have to start all over again they hurt for sure now im used to them and have them every three months needed or not they are expensive mine cost 1500.00 per injection i have both sides done at same time left and right , it allows me to be active very active . i hunt deer and go fishing , why i even put a 22 square roof on all by myself in a week on 2 story house couldnt carry the bundles whole but about half made lots of trips up and down ladder hey i know i should not have done that ,but i couldnt pay anyone to do it for me.facet blocks really help if you go to a guy who knows how to do it experience is what it takes to be sucessfull in ridding the pain ,,. feel free to ask any questions i can and will answer anything i have first hand knowledge about,,,, been thru..... all of it,tests and treatment even had fusion surgery that failed L4-5 to S1
  • pain that you are describing. I get my best relief from rhizotomy (nerve burn) Do you get stuck hunched over and your back locks up? The cramps that you are describing are more than likely muscle spasms. Good luck to you.
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  • I have that kind of pain and will be getting facet joint injections next week. I'm also getting my 3rd epidural for the sciatica which is much improved. I'm happy to have found this 2nd pain management Dr. who is giving facet joint instead of trigger therapy injections. Janek do you have a pain management Dr? I also started out with those flare ups that kept me down for 4 days at a time. I hope you find out what's going on with you Janek. Keep us posted to your progress if you like. This is in no ways medical advice just sharing my experience any advice can only be given by a Dr. Take care. Sorry to talk so much about me. 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
  • Jannk, Welcome to the forum! :H
    I'm not a dr, just a kindred soul, and I agree with lulusheart..it sounds like every flare-up I've ever had. Our bodies have a way of talking to us and telling us what it needs. During my flare-ups, rest is the only thing I can do until the inflammation is gone...along with an nsaid, heating pad and the remote control and possibly a muscle relaxer.
    You take care.
  • I've had many of those episodes in my lower back, and it is from muscle spasms, as the muscles try to protect the spine.
    The pain is unbelievable.
    One time I was feeling a bit sore so retired quite early, shutting all doors as wife was watching TV.
    Had a shower and while in it, the pain struck!
    I couldn't even move to turn the water off.
    Eventually I was able to turn slightly and turn the 2 taps off.
    what then? Wife was too far away to hear my calling, what with 2 closed doors and the TV on.
    I hobbled out of the shower and was slowly able to grab a towel, which I just flicked around a bit.
    I then had to open the door and get to the bed.
    This took ages with just tiny movements and lots of sudden stabbing pains.
    Eventually reached the bed and was somehow able to get on it and lie down.
    I had no medication handy.
    Two hours later my wife came in and I was able to take something.
    The next challenge was to get up and go to the toilet. Boy, was that difficult. Getting into position to sit up took a lot of planning and trial and error, with wife helping.Every movement was agony, and even standing at the toilet was painful. Then my muscles were so tight I couldn't go for quite a while.
    Then the creep back to bed.
    Bed rest, strong pain killers and lots of muscle relaxants are what I would recommend. When this happened to me, I was unaware of muscle relaxants-what a misfortune.
    Now I can sense when I am on the verge of an 'attack,' and I immediately rest and take muscle relaxants.
    My wife had a similar thing happen to her last year, and when it was over she said that she had never had any idea of how bad it was and what i had been going through for many years. I would just take myself to bed and suffer in silence. You get too sick to talk anyway.
    I've also been caught getting out of a car-halfway and just can't move.
  • Hi everybody, I am a newbie here. I also am a Registered Nurse, so I may have a different perspective than some of you. Though I have seen a lot of back surgeries, I come from the school of thought that it isn't always the best answer. Some docs offer it way too soon I feel, and some patients believe it will be their magic bullet.

    I've rounded with a few back surgeons who tell the patients, "Look you have pain now, and you will most likely have pain after back surgery as well; this is only a last resort."

    I am now age 34, and haven't had any back surgeries, but I am realizing it will be necessary soon. I have "moderately significant" DJD at L3/L4, L4/L5 and mild changes at L5/S1. I started having sciatica intermittently down left leg last year, no nerve damage. My pain is much more chronic though, and vicodin isn't effective for me. Stomach doesn't tolerate all the NSAIDs and they also are not effective. COX2's don't do a thing for me. I just started Neurontin a month ago; it helps but makes me feel dopey. I am contemplating a series of epidurals.

    My newest MRI showed significan worsening and some bulging at L4/L5, with significant inflammation and arthritis at the facet. He said this will continue to tighten the tendons there and with the bulge I will have possibly some nerve damage in the near future without surgery. Epidural has now been taken off the table until I am evaluated by the surgeon now. He said he guesses surgery in the next couple years.

    I just turned 34, my dad has had debilitating DJD with surgery in his 40's (laminectomy), and my grandfather was disabled for the same thing with back surgery in his late 30's. I also have autoimmune disease. Do any of you have any recomendations? I wondered if anyone knows specifics of AS. From what I've read it's a diagnosis of exclusion. I also do not have any of the pulmonary issues with it, and so far problems are isolated to 3 joints.

    I know I'd like to avoid long term damage and surgery; you all are the experts here, and I would like your input before I see the surgeon. Any advice on replacement discs? Weight restrictions? My BMI is 33 I believe. Thanks!
  • ^]^ disc replacement sounds like the new thing and probably is the only hope any of us under age 40 have...
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