advice needed - DDD that will not quit

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New Member

Date Joined Aug 2011
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 8/2/2011 4:46 AM (GMT -6)   

I'm gonna keep it short. Same story as most of you guys. l3/l4, l4/l5, l5/s1 herniations with l5/s1 1.2cm bulged when I was 19. I'm now 24 and I'm pretty much in killer pain all the time that is not resolved by any sort of intervention. Can't sleep, exercise, blah blah blah. The l3/l4 came back together, the l4/l5 mostly came back and the l5/s1 is pretty much ruined. .9cm bulge as of last year. Pain has gotten much worse since then. Pretty significant loss of disc height in the two lower discs. I imagine things are getting worse

Obviously the dilemma is what now? I have done everything non-invasive under the sun minus a cranial branch block (I didn't trust the doctor). I fear surgery for a variety of reasons. Fusion is terrible and at 24? It can't possibly offer a good quality of life (figure 50 years more of this). A back surgeon said my l3/l4 would go in probably 10 years or less. I know a fusion will help that puppy along. disc replacement sounds great, but seems to be pretty awful in practice. Good risk of serious complications, re-surgery, etc. any sort of ___scopy or discectomy promise only a chance of some results and will most likely have future repercussions (cut something out of a system already in decline? Doesn't sound like sound science to me). Plus it could potentially bar me from receiving any sort of stem cell procedure that is not yet available or that exists. Docs won't give me pain meds. They know this scenario breeds addicts. I've done cymbalta and celebrex fexeril and anything else a doctor might suggest for chronic pain with no avail.

So what do I do? I've seen ten different doctors who have said ten different things. I am not an idiot. That generalized disagreement means two things. 1) This field of chronic back pain is a freaking gold mine for predators, and 2) no one has a clue how to treat this because in reality, it is untreatable. I am scared to make any moves. It is apparent that once you embark down that road it does not end until you are dead. End of story. I can't imagine having to get surgery after surgery just to maintain a general level of not good enough. And to compound it all, I used to be a dedicated athlete (running, kung-fu, body building the works). It is killing me that I can no longer do any of that. None of these options offer a good outlook for that stuff either. I need help and it doesn't seem available.

How does one make a sound decision in light of all of that? I do not want my life to become an exercise in pain management and lowered expectations.

I guess what I am saying is that I am terrified. And crazy sad. I don't know how to cope with the impending reality of my life. I don't think I could forgive my self for making the wrong decision.

I have edited your post due to the language content, please note this is a family oriented forum and vulgar language is against forum rules.

Post Edited By Moderator (straydog) : 8/2/2011 4:51:55 AM (GMT-6)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2011
Total Posts : 816
   Posted 8/2/2011 7:49 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello, and welcome to the cp forum, I am nini53/kathy.  You have entered world that none of us want to be in.  And although applaud your decision to not take the narcotic pain meds available to you, you might want to re think this as they are a great tool in keeping the pain to a somewhat reasonable level.
You will find as you move thru this time in your life, that although you may not be able to do the things you would like to do, there are other ways and others things in life you can learn to adjust your life to.  This is not easy, and believe no one on this forum wants to be here, but here we are and we have lives, children, spouses and life does go on.  I do recommend you see a pain management doctor, and make sure they have a good reputation.  There are also injections that are available and you might want to look into this.
I am sorry, you are so young to have this come into your life.  Know this, there are others on this forum, not yet out of there teens.  I know its hard, but sometimes you do have to look at what you have versus what you dont have.  I know, no one wants to here that, I didnt, but please try not to let yourself sink into a deep depression, then thats one more problem you will have.
Take care, and good luck, hope you are feeling well today.
degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, neuropathy, lumbar laminectomy july 1998 no help, rechargeable neurostimulator unit low right back w/lead wires to left side and right leg unit not working just sitting there.i am 57 years young in may will turn 58. i have 2 grown daughters, 25 and 29. i have 2 grandchildren, 9 year old grandaughter and 5 yr. old grandson

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16787
   Posted 8/2/2011 9:17 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi KDawg and welcome to Healing Well's chronic pain forum. I am sorry that you have to be here but glad that you found us.

You are correct that it is rotten someone as young as you are to be dealing with CP issues and back problems. How did you injure your back, was it from an accident, or from body building and perhaps lifting too heavy weights?

The best I can tell from reading your post your biggest problem is the very bottom disc L5/S1 which is usually the the one to go bad when there is an injury or trauma. You are in a real catch 22 concerning a fusion with the chance of disc above the fusion going bad. This can happen due to having too much stress put on that disc.

Have you been seen by a pain mgt dr by chance? Many of us are under the care of PM drs because treating pain is their specialty. A pain mgt dr can do different injections and procedures that can help some get their pain levels down to a more tolerable level. If you have not seen one you may want to discuss this with your PCP and see about getting a referral to one.

Anyway, I wanted to pop on here and tell you welcome aboard. Please keep us posted on how you are doing.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 132
   Posted 8/2/2011 12:56 PM (GMT -6)   
I am so sorry this is happening to you. I have almost the exact same diagnosis as you have, except I can throw in L2/3. I received my diagnosis about 7 years ago. I was told that fusion was NOT an option for me, because then L1/2 would be fried within a few years.

What have I done to make it better? Let's see... decompression therapy at a chiropractor helped for a while. Probably would have helped longer if I hadn't done stupid things like catch heavy objects that had fallen or stop the maintenance therapy. Prolotherapy helped for a while, as well, but became cost prohibitive (some insurances cover it- mine didn't). What has helped the most? Epidural steroid injections several times a year, and I've had 2 radiofrequency neurotomies, and each one helped for 6+ months (my current one is about 8 months old, and I'm only now getting some twinge-like pain back). Once the neurotomies and ESIs stop working (which I've been warned by my PM dr is a possibility), I will probably try for a nerve stimulator.
DDD (4 levels- L2-3 thru L5-S1), Hashimoto's Disease/ thyroid cancer (thyroid removed 6/11),

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 2042
   Posted 8/2/2011 5:15 PM (GMT -6)   
I concur. You need to be seen by a pain management specialist. Ideally you want one that does both procedures and also uses medications to treat pain.

PS> If your doctors really believe that long term, proper, use of pain medicine causes addiction they need to go back to medical school, or at the very least pick up a medical journal or 3 and read any number of studies that have been done that refute this. The odds are very, very low that a person will become addicted on pain pills if they are prescribed with a little "common sense", the patient takes them as prescribed, and the patient actually needs them. Most of the people who become addicted are ones who take the meds when they do not need them, take them in a way they shouldn't or have an addiction issue anyway.
2 confirmed herniated lumbar discs. Spinal Arthritis. Spinal Stenosis, diabetic peripheral nueropathy.
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