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Do most of us have multiple issues?

Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,554
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:34 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have a few questions that have been running through my mind and thought I'd put up a post to see what SH members have to say. If I can get these answered, maybe I'll be able to sleep through a whole night.

1. Is it possible to have our spine problems and NOT have DDD? I've never heard anyone say they weren't diagnosed with it but had to have spine surgery. Do we ALL have DDD?

2. I've had cervical surgery and four months later started having lumbar problems that I'm now being treated for. Do most spineys have problems in one area only to later have a problem in another?

3. Someone I know told me that people with spine problems like us don't refer to it as our surgery, we refer to it as our FIRST surgery? Is this right?

Curious Cath


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    Hi Cath, I have DDD and have had six surgeries. First 3 were on cervical,next 2 were lumbar and the last one was cervical. I am starting to have trouble with lumbar spine again. I had a surgeon tell me once you have surgery on cervical your lower back compensates for the deficits of the cervical and vise versa. I used to think that statement was bs but now I wonder.
    I am living proof of it. LOL.
  • by the way are you at least a bit better after your injection?

    1. as we get older we tend to get ddd as a natural aging process. discs dry up and loose their spring. i think that other troubles in the spine can add stress to the discs and speed up the ddd.

    2. my neck and lumbar issues started at the same time

    3. my surgeon told me before any surgery was done that he could not repair my whole spine. he said he would go in and repair one at a time, the worst part at that time....at least he was up front and didnt imply i would only need one operation. so far i have had 6 procedures. there is a note on my chart now NO MORE SURGERY.
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  • As to your by the way: Yes, I'm much better. The ESI worked and I have no sciatica at all - I'm hoping this is long-term. The jury's still out on the facet injections, as I've still got some lower back pain, but not all the time and not as intense as before.

    Curiously, my neck is hurting more now than it did. I wonder if I was concentrating so much on my lower back pain that I simply ignored any neck pain.

    Thanks for askin'. :-)
  • 1. I agree with Pete - we all seen to get DDD as we age. I imagine there are lots of people who have it and just haven't had enough trauma to bring them to the doctor. Some folks probably live with it without much pain.

    2. I've had neck and shoulder issues for years, but I don't think (so far) from an overly damaged upper spine. Just poor posture and body mechanics.

    3. If this was my first spinal surgery, it was a hum-dinger, and I don't care to do it again. I pray I never get bad enough to require another.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,347
    1- I think by the time we all hit 30 there will be some signs of DDD. Its just the natural aging of our spine, similar to the way our hair turns gray. People can get DDD sooner and more advanced due to Trauma, Spinal Surgery, and Genetic conditions

    2- I firmly believe that once one part of your spine is affected (ie surgery) there is more stress placed on the other parts which over time can and will cause problems. I started out in the 1970's and 1980's with lumbar surgeries, none which involved fusion, because back then people at desk jobs were 'considered' not to need fusion. Then in the 1990's I had my cervical surgeries, which were fused. So, I had the top of my spine fused and my lower spine, even though not fused years of scar tissue resulted in the same. As a result, my thoracic disc started to take the stress, so, by 2000, I started to herniated thoracic discs, one by one. So, ask me and I will say YES there is a definite relationship between spinal problems and follow on difficulties.

    3- Again correct...Only in 1978 did I think that it was my first surgery. Then #2,3,4 and so on, so instead it was "OK, doc, see you in a couple for the next surgery"!

    I wish all the above wasn't so, and hopefully for many it is not. For me, its been my life.
    But I aint complaining, it could be many times worse
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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  • I agree with the other posts. Once you have a spine surgery the rest of your spine takes more of the impact. Also, DDD shows up on just about everyone by their 30's: some of us (like me) have an excelerated disintegration of the spine so that when you are 43, as I am, your spine looks like its from an 80 year old. I had a lumbar 2 level fusion in 2003 and will be having another 2 level this winter probably. At the same time my back started acting up again neck started bothering me and will eventually need a 3 level cervical fusion for severe DDD and kyphosis (spine curving in the opposite direction). Of course, this is me and hopefully there are many of you out there that will not experience this. My BIG MISTAKE initially, was to go back to my old ways once I was fused and pain-free. Gardening, heavy lifting rather than asking for help, picking up small children and all of the awkward movements that come with kids; you get the idea.
    Now facing my second fusion and severe limited mobility, I am working on accepting my future and slowly rearranging my home/life/way of thinking about who I am and what I can do. There is no way I can mistreat my body anymore. There are so many people suffering worse than me so I try to limit my pity parties. I hope I helped answer some of your questions. I wish all of us well.
  • Man I hope I don't have to have more surgeries. I'm almost 3 weeks out of cervical surgery 3 levels. My issue was from a sport injury about 15 years ago. I was told that had I allowed surgery then I would have only one area fused but I refused the surgery. I was able to get the use of my left arm back. By putting it off the problem got worse. No one in my family has ever had DDD. No one has ever had back surgery. If I hadn't been kicked in the head while sparring someone way out of my weight category I wouldn't be sitting here now. I don't have DDD in any other area.

    I think that if DDD is the only reason then yes but if you take good care of yourself exercise, eat well, stay at a healthy weight and don't smoke, drink or drug there's a good chance the only surgery needed is the one to fix the injured area. By not getting surgery my problem worsened. Getting the surgery was done so more damage did not occur. I will ask my surgeon about that when I see him August 31st.

    One of my friends was in an auto accident and had 2 levels done about 8 years ago. She's a fitness trainer too and in top shape. She's never had issues with the rest of her back. One of the nurses at my surgeons office had the surgery and has not needed more. She's young and must have been in a car accident or something.

    I agree that going back to your old ways of heavy lifting and crazy stuff needs to be altered but I am going to do all I can to never have to do this again. I HATE IT! I'm a very active person and I don't want to spend my life getting surgeries.

    Was your lower back an issue before? I'd get to a PT and try to get a really strong core body and make sure your weight is good and that your living habits support a healthy back. It's tough to build up your neck but your lower body can be worked with. I believe that with all my heart.
  • I have multiple problems as well as severe DDD in my lumbar spine. My back problems started with my lower back going out for only a couple weeks. Years later my thoracic went out and it was due to DDD and disc bulges. A month later my C-spine joined the party, but the worst has always been the lumbar.

    I do regard my back surgeries as being separate from the rest. None of the 12 I went through haven't had so much impact on my life such as spinal surgeries.
  • Dear Cath111, I believe alot of it goes to the very fat of our development. We are still developing (we can not see it) but, we used to walk on all fours, or so they say. It sure does take the stress of our spine. Don't believe me, get on all fours and stretch back & forth gently. Ohh that feels good.
    Next, I was in a major accident 14 & a half years ago, just about ready to have my cervical fused,& (unknown to me) my Dr sent my films & records to a Dr in Calif, that ONLY reads reports & gives advise to other doctors on wheather 'he' thinks surgery has to be done. In my case, he said no, wait. At the time I was mad, I wanted the pain to go away. Three weeks later I met my down stairs neighbor(an old man I had seen many times, but was moving too fast to stop & talk to before), so as things would have it, we started talking. He was getting ready to go in for "another" fusion. As he explained it to me, he said his doctors said to him, once a fusion is done(now mind you I am speaking of a straight fusion IDK about the pro-fusions where your spine still pivots like it is supposed to move)the disc below the one that is fused is taking all the stress of the fused disc, and will need to be fused in about 5 years or a little longer. Then once u fuse THAT disc it is the same process all over again. Just continued fusions until the entire spine is fused.
    Now I really really need my cervical fused, but I am avoiding it like the plague. I asked my doctors.....& I went to a lot of them. They ALL said, YES I will need to have future fusions in about 5 years.( I never told any of them about this conversation with that old man) They all said the same thing. So I am avoidind it
    Now there was a time, after I was told no to surgery so long ago, that I turned into a total hard-body.
    I had a hysterectemomy & moved alot of heavy stuff(no choice) & I truely believe that that weakened my body just enough, that when I was soing all this hard manual labor, I moved, cleaning etc... that I overdid it & put my spine on bedrest, with herniation & really in need of cervical fusion, Yet I STILL say NO. over time, with hhc help, I have seen great inprovement.
    As far as DDD I just heard on the news that they believe that 100% of the worlds' population has back pain, not everyone seeks medical treatment, for 1 reason or another. Some can't afford it, some may be like someone I know that walks bent over, & works hard, he probabally has many herniated discs, but he is in charge, so he can't go to the doctor, cuz nobody else can do his job.
    Keeping your body moving is always good, until it screams at u that it needs to rest, then when you are ready you can start with simple exercicises laying down on the bed. Remember the mussles in the back work together with the stomach mussles. Keep them both strong. Then when u r up to it, either go to a gym, or what ever way you get your exercice.
    Your case sounds like something simple, but I hav'nt heard the whole story. But from what I have heard, I don't hear one thing that remotely suggests that you need surgery. Just a good exercise to stretch out the siatiatica.
    So, Yes one surgery from all I have learned does lead to another surgery in about 5 years. sometimes 10 years. But, most often it causes more problems than before. So unless you break your back. Just rest, then exercise. Don't forget to eat a balanced meal. Enjoy. (btw as with anything, the younger you are the faster you heal) Good Luck, keep me posted of what you learn. Thanks, Rebecca
  • I had DDD at 20 something. Disk herniation at L3-L4.

    And after each trip to the ER, with Xrays, each Dr told me that it was getting worse. I knew that as the pain was escalating with each trip.

    Now at 48- I have been working 4 years to get to the bottom of this and figure out how to live with this for the rest of my life.

    cheers David
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