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Crutches as Pain Relief for long periods of standing (disc desiccation)?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:31 AM in Lower Back Pain
My MRIs recently came back showing disc desiccation of L4-L5/L5-S1. I'm currently awaiting a neurological consult but am hoping for artificial disc replacement. I don't really know what my "official" diagnosis is (no one has said anything about degenerative disc disease).

I'm 21 years old and in more or less constant pain. I've had some degree of back pain since I was around 14 or 15, but it has gotten worse as time goes on (back going out more frequently) until this past year or so, when it has been pretty much constant in some form. Within the last few months it has snowballed, and I am in moderate pain the majority of the time (usually living off 1000 mg of Ibuprofen a day, occasionally double that).

Lying down is the only thing that alleviates pain - sitting is complete agony and standing for long periods of time is beginning to cause more and more pain (especially within the last few weeks). It is actually frightening how I am noticeably able to do less each day.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had any success with something like forearm crutches for pain relief in the same areas I'm having trouble with. I know crutches aren't typically associated with lower back pain relief but there are times where I *have* to be standing for periods of over an hour, and I can't think of anything else to take the stress off my back (besides sitting, which hurts worse).

Does anybody have any experiences with this or can recommend any alternatives? I'm quickly running out of things I'm able to do and at 21, I'm depressed about having "standing" being added to the list.


  • I use a cane to take the weight off my back and ankle so I understand the need for an aid in walking or standing. Has your Dr referred you to a Ortho or NeuroSurgeon? Tke care. 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've been referred to a neurosurgeon and should be making an appointment with him/her sometime this week or next...unfortunately everything seems to be moving incredibly slowly, from the original doctors' appointments to the referral to the consult to whatever follows, and in the mean time it's just getting worse and worse and I'm not getting any relief.

    My worst nightmare is that they recommend a bad surgery (fusion) or some "fluff" treatment (a TENS unit or tylenol, etc). I don't know what I'll do if they blow me off...I can't even keep a job because there are none that don't require either long term standing or sitting, or not lifting anything heavier than 10lbs.
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  • I was on crutches for a couple months before I got my surgery.
    They were the full crutches, not the forearm ones however.
    They did give me relief and helped me a lot.
    I was able to do more things for longer periods.
    For the $30 bux they cost, it was great.
    No way I could have gotten by without them.

    One thing that was kinda interesting was the way people treated me. Everyone assumed I broke a leg or an ankle. People were extra nice to me, and extra helpful.

    It is humbling to be on crutches!
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • If you do decide to use crutches,I would advise that you first see a PT to show you the proper use of them.Using crutches improperly can cause other structural problems that I wouldn't want you to find out about later.

    I've been on crutches and in a wheelchair more times than I care to admit..or even think about,but they can be handy tools if used properly.

    Good luck to you,and welcome to S~H.
  • Paul and Robin - was disc dessication your problem as well? Or was it something else?
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  • No mossbreaker,my problems were not disc dessication.The problems that led toward crutches had to do with my feet,and my spine issues are in my cervical(neck)area.I do have DDD though,and I hope that I don't need the use of crutches again.
  • Yes, I do have dried out discs.
    On my MRI's, they appear black. Especially 4-5.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Tried them out today when I knew I'd be doing a lot of walking/standing

    Had NONE of the soreness I usually do, and when I got home I surprised myself by picking something up in a position I knew would cause pain - except this time it didn't. So I'll definitely be using them again whenever I need to be standing/walking for a long time.
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