17 year old with Degenerative Disc Disease

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becurse
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Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 2/7/2014 4:13 AM (GMT -7)   
about 3 and a half years ago when I was in Year 10, I woke up one morning and had a pain in my lower back. I thought nothing of it and thought it would go away with time. After several weeks of pain, I decided to go to the doctors to see if they knew what was wrong. They did loads of test on me until they opted for me to have an MRI scan. It should that I had a L5 herniated disc. I used to have very bad pains down my legs but they have now subsided. Three years on and the disc isn't causing me major pain. I was left with Degenerative Disc Disease. Every morning and night I have to do 10-12 different stretches on top of core exercises. I still have terrible aches in my lower back and it's starting to get me down. I am 17 years old but I feel as though I can't do anything that I want to do with my life. I have a huge passion for skateboarding but I don't know if I should start skateboarding or not because it might damage my back even further. I posted that because I wanted to get if off my chest because I haven't talked about it properly with anybody.

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 11656
   Posted 2/7/2014 8:46 AM (GMT -7)   
Good morning Becurse & welcome to the chronic pain forum. I am sorry to read about what you are dealing with at such a young age. You said you had an MRI, how long ago was this done? You know a lot of times a herniated disc can heal on its own. Did you ever see a specialist, if so what kind? I would think your parents or you should ask your dr about what activities you should avoid. The answer about skateboarding also needs to come from a medical professional not an online public forum. As you know a fall from a skateboard could possibly cause further damage.

I would keep up with the stretches & core exercises as these will help strengthen you. You really should talk to your parents about this & let them know you are having problems. If its been quite a while since you seen a dr for this perhaps they need to call & get you an appt.

Hang in there and take care.
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becurse
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Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 2/7/2014 9:30 AM (GMT -7)   
The latest MRI I had was late 2013. It showed that the disc isn't pushing against my nerves that cause leg pain. However, they said that the disc has degenerated. I did see a specialist yes and they said that if I wanted to do activities that may harm my back, I should do an alternative activity that takes pressure off of your back. One of the activities he suggested what swimming. I had physiotherapy for about 6 months and that really helped my back. They were the ones that gave me the stretches to do. I have told my parents about it but they don't really take me seriously. Finally, I went to the doctors last week and I mentioned that my back was getting me down a bit. He looked over my records and he said that I have Idiopathic Scoliosis. I was never told this when I originally got the results from the X ray and MRI I had about 3 years ago. I am wondering if he read the results wrong because surely they would have told me about this when the results were first looked at.

Jim1969
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Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 2042
   Posted 2/8/2014 6:50 AM (GMT -7)   
A lot can happen in 3-4 years. It is quite possible that your x-rays and mri may not have shown anything specifically back then but now do.
2 confirmed herniated lumbar discs. Spinal Arthritis. Spinal Stenosis, diabetic peripheral nueropathy.

becurse
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Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 2/8/2014 11:15 AM (GMT -7)   
I still have a constant ache in my lower back which kind of puts me down because all of my friends are out enjoying themselves and then there is me stuck at home with a bad back. I have had 6 months of Physiotherapy which actually helped quite a lot but I still have some pain in my back. I have been looked at alternative treatment that could possibly help my back pain. I have heard that Inversion Table supposed to be help aid back pain but don't know whether to buy one or not. My doctor said that it would be good to get another Physiotherapist's opinion about my back because I didn't get Physio through my doctors, I went to a private Physio. Personally, I think that going to Physio again is a waste of time because I already have a set of stretches to do morning and night which help reduce the pain a little.

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
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   Posted 2/8/2014 2:00 PM (GMT -7)   
I hear what you are saying about not being able to get out & run around with your friends. You are way too young to be stuck sitting at home while everyone else is out doing things normal 17 yr olds do. Get with a few of your friends & do things that are not physical, there is a lot of things you all can do that is not going to put you at risk.

Here is a little suggestion that I would like to make. I know talking to parents sometimes can be difficult. I am a parent with 2 grown kids, and you can bet I was not the perfect listener, none of us are. Why not sit down & write a short letter to both of your parents & be as open with them as you have been here with us. Tell your parents how much this pain is affecting you, explain how you want to be doing things with your friends but that you are unable to do a lot. How are your grades, is the pain affecting how well you can concentrate in class, any drop in your grades because of the pain? If the answer is yes you need to let the parents know why your grades have dropped. If you do not want to do this, then I suggest that you get with your dr & have him talk to your parents.

You are correct the dr is not the person that does the physical therapy, you have to go to a different facility as you know to get that done. When you went to PT did the therapist ever use what is called E-stim, which is where they put little pads on your back & then hook electrodes up to the patches & then to a machine & it sends like pulses to the pads? If you did this, did it help? If it helps then perhaps getting you a tens unit may be something to discuss with your dr. Normally the dr writes out a script & includes trying a tens unit on the patient. Usually it is rented by the month, if it helps then they recommend that your insurance buys you one to use. Lots of folks get with these little machines. Also work on exercises that will strengthen your core muscles.

Now, about the inversion table. Yes, people claim they have helped them but for someone with a herniated disc the table could cause you further injury & damage. If this were a pulled muscle it would be different, but you have a herniated disc and that is whole different set of problems.

Have you tried taking some Aleve or Ibuprofen? If not talk to the dr about giving it a try. You might try doing some meditation, anything to get your mind off of the back pain. There are lots of different way to distract your mind so that you are not setting there thinking about pain. A lot of us chronic pain patients have to do this because there is no magic pill out there that is going to take our pain away.

Keep us posted on how you are doing.
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BunnyGirl86
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts : 73
   Posted 2/10/2014 3:42 PM (GMT -7)   
I was diagnosed when I was 18 l4 l5 herniated and I feel you as to not being able to do stuff, but talk to ur friends and tell them about your back, your true friends will rally around you and play call of duty or WoW or go see movies. It's hard being young and have such a hard blow as this but you are working through it like a level headed adult, way beyond your years.
Also if your into music take your friends to a concert, you can do this kinda stuff with out having to stand up.

therabidweasel
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 95
   Posted 2/11/2014 9:10 AM (GMT -7)   
Welcome Becurse.

I am a former extreme sporter. I came from the same area as Matt Hoffman and rode bikes. I rode with him several times, all of his famous ramps, I had a 9' quarter, an 11' half and buddies with a 12' half and several minis. I used to ride all over the greater OKC area sliding rails and doing other "street" tricks. I started when I was nine.

I say the above not to brag, as I wasnt that great, but to maybe build just a little credibility with you. In my opinion you are now too old to begin learning to skate. In fact, I started trying to freestyle too late at the age of nine. It takes years, even for those with natural talent. When you are young you can take all the falls and hits that it takes just to begin to learn to skate, much less do tricks. . .and I know you want to be able to do tricks. At this point, all of the falls etc are going to take a MUCH bigger bite out of your long term health. You may break bones now just learning to skate, much less do tricks. This would be my advice to a healthy person; you are not healthy. By the time I was your age I had quite a number of injuries. . .at your age Matt Hoffman had quite a few fake body parts. I know that is not what you want to hear, but stick with me. Also, you are about to enter an age where skating is just not going to appeal to you as much. Those sports are really for young people. Yeah Tony Hawk is as old as me now, but he was a lot younger than you when he started and he had a natural talent that very few of us do. . .much fewer than those with the ability to play professional team sports. So the numbers are not in your favor.

THESE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS ARE ONLY IF YOU ARE A TRUE ADRENALINE JUNKY, AND YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE. IF YOU AREN'T SURE, YOU ARENT.

If you are an adrenaline junky, and I really dont get the impression that you are, but if you are there are a couple of things that you can start at your age that aren't THAT bad. Dont get me wrong, you can still break ribs and get hurt. . .with the second thing I mention you can get hurt badly or die. Lake jumping a bicycle is a lot of fun if you have a body of water nearby. Certain swimming pools even work. Basically you build a ramp like a wall ride ramp. Something like 3.5 feet tall and it needs to go to vert for at least a few inches. I bought a bike at a police auction, it was a decent mongoose. You strip it down to the minimum and duct tape a laundry detergent bottle or two to the handlebars and begin jumping into the water. The detergent bottles float the bike and you swim back out. It is relatively safe unless you put it at the end of a long steep boat ramp. . .and then you can jump 100 feet or more. This is the sort of thing that will break your ribs just from landing. . .a good jet skiing life jacket can help prevent that, but I am not really advocating you go that far. But this is a good way to do tricks, even flips and all sorts of crazy stuff with few consequences. Just make sure a healthy guy jumps the first few times to make sure the water in the landing zone is deep enough. I was that guy, and I've landed in 6 inches, literally "testing the water."

I began rock climbing when I started college. I was pretty banged up from having ridden bikes when I did. People are going to freak out about me implying you might be able to climb, but unless they have climbed themselves they dont know what they are talking about. Climbing is actually safe. Because the risk is so very high, you do not need to go crazy to get an adrenaline rush and you will be very cautious. I climbed for nearly a decade and the only significant injury I received was a hairline fracture in my ankle. That was the only fall I took, but it was a doozy at over 50 feet. . .very uncommon. I rode bikes for 7 years, and my injuries couldnt fit on a sheet of paper. Climbing is also a great way to see the country, to learn to live frugally, and meet a lot of interesting people. IF you top-rope, which is all I am suggesting, you will only fall as far as the rope itself can stretch. If you climb at an indoor gym, most use what is called "static line" and it doesnt stretch at all. . .in that case you dont fall at all. If you are healthy enough to consider skating, maybe try instead to take a trip to a climbing gym. You will be on the same level as your buddies, and you can see if it might be something that you can/want to do. If it is, you can climb all over the country cheaply, just top roping things. There is a lot more to climb and certainly much taller etc if you dont just top rope, but you can still climb anywhere you want (including nearby gyms) and have a really good time doing it. . .and get an adrenaline rush and test your body. If you only top rope and want to travel you would buy a static line and again you essentially do not fall at all. Ideally one also starts climbing early, but it is a great sport and can be done in such a way that the risk is very low. Oh, the only way you die top roping is if your anchors fail or if your belayer drops you. . .that will make total sense to you later and is of no worry at a gym. If you have a sketchy belayer, they have automatic devices that protect you even from that.



OK, hopefully you ignored the above because you are not an adrenaline junky or know that you are too banged up. Being an adrenaline junky is not a good thing. It led me to extreme motorcycles which led me to this here couch I am writing from in miserable condition. Matt Hoffman walks with a cane and I dont believe he is 40. . .so even the best suffer mightily.

As far as the inversion table. . .I suggest you find someone or someplace that has one and give it a try. My grandparents had one when I was younger and it helped stretch and free up my back a lot. Just tilt slowly, and I mean very slowly, backward and see if it helps. Like straydog said it can hurt you, so do this just a bit at a time if you try it. I would not buy before trying because I can no longer use one at all. With my injuries I now become extremely dizzy and will be sick all day from just a few seconds on one.

As far as a TENS, they are great, but if you are using it to treat a muscle spasm on a muscle that spans your injury site they can make your condition worse. By repeatedly flexing a muscle that spans your damaged disc it can inflame the joint and increase any neurological symptoms you may have. After my recent surgery, I cannot use a TENS on my neck muscles at all. That said, I have one and use it frequently. I do not rent. . .you can buy a good portable unit for $100 so in my opinion it does not make economic sense. I would get one that has adjustability, the cheapest ones that do not are not worth having. You still need a prescription, but you either fax or mail it into the store from which you are buying.

Ah, and finally if none of the above applies you must do the most difficult thing of all. . .have patience. Things will come that you couldn't have imagined doing before. Life is surprising and there are a lot of ways to extract joy from a situation. I roast my own coffee these days and consider the best hobby I ever had. I wouldnt trade my adrenaline junky days. . .except the motorcycles. Dragging a knee is pure adrenaline, and so is flying through that air, but its the landing that can suck so badly. Cooking is also great and everyone loves good food, so its easy to get your pals over if you cook well. . .but these are the sorts of things that will come to you if you have patience. Prepare yourself for the long haul of life, and dont pine for what might have been. Enjoy they now, be prepared for the then.

Best of Luck
Steve

becurse
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 2/14/2014 3:17 PM (GMT -7)   
That is definitely not what I wanted to hear. When I was little I started Skateboarding but for some reason I stopped. Now, I'm 17 and haven't skated in about 6 months. It is the only sport that I am interested in and when I'm not out skating, I'm constantly looking at skateboarding videos of my favorite skaters to give me inspiration. However, my DDD has really got me down because I just think to myself 'why does all of this have to happen to me'. When I tell my friends about it they don't understand because they aren't going through what I'm going through. I wish I could be like them and enjoy life whilst I'm still young. But no, I have to have a constant ache in my lower back reminding me everyday that I don't feel normal. I am going to the doctors and Wednesday and I am going to ask for his opinion on what he thinks I should do. I will keep you updated on what happens.

Thanks.

therabidweasel
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 95
   Posted 2/14/2014 9:43 PM (GMT -7)   
Becurse, do you have plans for college? If you do and you have patience I am certain that you will find another hobby. If not, youll still be exposed to many new things over time. I know it completely sucks when a hobby has to end due to injury, but in my experience you know when that time is, it's your choice when to accept it.

Life unfolds the way it should for all of us. It may not be the way we planned or dreamed but it takes us down our own path. You can dwell on the parts of the path that are good or bad. Everyone on this forum is sucking lemons. The bitter and the sour are there for everyone, but so is the sweet. Focus on the sweet, retain your memories of fun times and be open to new possibilities.

Best of luck. Sorry to get philosophical on you.

Screaming Eagle
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Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 4996
   Posted 2/15/2014 10:33 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello Becurse!…and welcome to the chronic pain forum!

Stretching those muscles is very important, as this is what supports the spine. Skateboarding is risky especially if you are having spinal problems, so I myself would have to give it up.

Has your Dr thought about or suggested an Epidural? This may give some patients relief caused by inflammation around the problem area of the spine.

You are so very young, so please be careful and do all that you can to protect, and keep from injuring your spine more than it already is. Trust me!….you don't want to have to live with chronic back problems if it can be avoided. We have a number of members here with spinal problems, and I'm sure that would agree! It is no way to live if it can be avoided.

Best of luck!…and I hope you consider making the HealingWell Chronic Pain forum your home for support.

SE
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Weekly Quote!

Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble the world knows nothing about, need only a bit of praise or encouragement - and we will make the goal. ~Jerome Fleishman

Post Edited (Screaming Eagle) : 2/15/2014 10:13:18 AM (GMT-7)


becurse
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 2/15/2014 11:35 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello, I went to see a different doctor today and I don't him that my back gets me down. He gave me a phone number to a place called 'Talking Therapies'. He said that it will help the physiological side of my pain. He said that if I get into the right mindset about my back pain. It may help me cope. I also asked him about doing skateboarding and he actually suggested that I go out and skate because it will make me feel better. I have been put on the list to get Physiotherapy again and if they think that I need better treatment, they will send me to a chiropractor.

Screaming Eagle
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 4996
   Posted 2/15/2014 11:52 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello again!

While I do agree with the physiological therapy, I'm afraid I'm at odds with your Dr on the skateboarding. Maybe your skill level is such that you never loose your balance, and if thats the case, then yes…go for it per his suggestion. However, I still think it's taking a risk, as the stats for skateboarding injuries are quite high, and you are dealing with spinal problems. Now, if you are no longer in pain and feel healthy, then I can see possibly entertaining something like that.

Keep in mind, that you have a long life ahead of you, and that you will want to be healthy enough to be able to provide a living for yourself. Permanent damage to your spine can bring a sudden stop to a career rather quickly.

Staying mobile and being active is one thing, but teasing risk is quite another.

Exercise, can be quite beneficial if done within reason, but again, please be careful.

Good luck again!

SE
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Weekly Quote!

Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble the world knows nothing about, need only a bit of praise or encouragement - and we will make the goal. ~Jerome Fleishman

Post Edited (Screaming Eagle) : 2/15/2014 11:02:00 AM (GMT-7)


becurse
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 2/15/2014 12:02 PM (GMT -7)   
Hey Screaming Eagle, I forgot to mention something. He said if I go Skateboarding, he recommends that I do an activity that is good for your back. For example, Swimming, Yoga or Cycling. He also noticed that I had quite a bad posture. The Dr said that my posture could possibly make the pain in my back so much worse than what it could be when I have a good posture.

Thanks for replying, it makes me feel like I aren't alone.

Alex

Screaming Eagle
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 4996
   Posted 2/15/2014 12:09 PM (GMT -7)   
…well now!…. there is some advice a I agree with! Enjoy, and have fun!

I happen to see in the news, about a belt that a person can wear, and if you slouch too much, it will squawk at you, letting you know that your posture is bad, and that you need to sit up and make the proper adjustment. LOL What will they think of next!

SE wink
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Weekly Quote!

Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble the world knows nothing about, need only a bit of praise or encouragement - and we will make the goal. ~Jerome Fleishman

Post Edited (Screaming Eagle) : 2/15/2014 11:13:05 AM (GMT-7)


therabidweasel
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 95
   Posted 2/16/2014 9:19 PM (GMT -7)   
Posture is always an interesting one, every doctor I've ever met believes it to be a cause...never met one that thought it might be effect. Either way, when I straighten up I do feel better, so it's a good thing to be conscious of.

I'm not sure what type of skating you do, but if you ride ramps you might look into back protectors. The only ones I've ever worn have been for racing street bikes (motorcycles). They will prevent hyper extension and direct blows to the back. . .I think you'd be able to skate in one fine and some look pretty cool too. Just a thought.

Good luck, take care of yourself.

becurse
New Member


Date Joined Feb 2014
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 2/17/2014 6:03 AM (GMT -7)   
It has been 2 days since I have improved my posture and I have to say, the pain I was in has decreased significantly. It's weird to think that something little like your posture can help so much. Also, I skate street which isn't actually that bad unless you're skating stairs which I probably won't be. I will definitely look into some back protectors to keep my back safe whilst I am out skating.

Thanks
Alex

Merrida
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Jul 2013
Total Posts : 4771
   Posted 2/17/2014 3:10 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm extremely keen on posture. Some might even say, a tad obsessive?

Example: I've approached people while biking, or in the gym, even in stores,....to compliment them on what great posture they have! (I doubt those are the types of compliments most elect to share, but hey,....I do it without, and before, really thinking about it beforehand. I've been addicted to kinesiology for as long as I can remember).

There's something to remember about your posture: You take it with you, everywhere you go! (Unlike an ergonomic chair or recliner).

It's a whole-body affair.....and it's well worth keeping it in check.

Glad to hear you're feeling better!



M.
...


"My time for tears will be at my Victory...not at the start of the War." ~~Vickie
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