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The Big File All issues not easily categorized in the above forums are here. Comments on general health, diet, "getting comfortable," and more are here.

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Old 11-22-2008, 04:08 PM
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Default who has DDD? how bad are your disc?

I was diagnosed with DDD in 2000 Laminectomy 1994 L5-S1. Why the Dr, told me it just a word we use not a real disease? What the #$%*. O.K. now my disc from L1 to S1 a mess need several levels of surgery fusion? How do we educate the medical community what is going on? I feel all disc issues for most people are kept silent until its to late. My recent MRI the DR said you need fusion and did not mention any other problems,Then i picked up my reports and read the results. Why was he disclosing the results." I did not want you to get depressed"What a jerk .O.K. that enough I think you get my point .

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Old 11-22-2008, 09:13 PM
Adrienne Adrienne is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 57

One time my husband came with me for an MRI and it turned out he knew one of the techs (he's an M.D.) so he got a freebie just for the hell of it.
Every single disc, cervical and lumbar, was noteworthy in the report. Dessicated, degenerated, shrunken, bulging, narrowed, impinged, hypertrophied, mangled, tangled and speghettied. You name it, we saw it.
Yet the man is in ZERO pain. He had this MRI on a lark.

They told us this was a 'normal' reading for a man his age. Maybe your Dr. was trying to say that degenerated discs aren't necessarily a disease. That they're more an inevitable fact of life, like wrinkles or baldness. 'Disease' might be a misnomer; degenerated discs aren't a disease unless they are bothering you.

I'm told over and over again that MRI's give way too much information, it's like using a microscope to make sure your kitchen floor is clean.Where do you scrub?? Maybe your Dr. was trying not to scare you needlessly at the I'm sure there are many blissfully ignorant people out playing tennis whose MRI's look like total hell.

Of course your doc could have been an a-hole too; I don't mean to discount your viewpoint. Just wanted to present the another perspective.

Minimal DDD L4/L5
Minimal DDD L5/S1
Disco 4/07 : Large tear: @L5/S1
Idet 4/08 No improvement
Now looking at ADR vs. Fusion
ALIF Fusion 2/10 Stanford
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Old 11-22-2008, 09:18 PM
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trkdoc714 trkdoc714 is offline
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Posts: 137
Default Big soapbox


I just got finished venting over the same issue. I think it's too easy for doctors to fuse since it's accepted by the red tape factories. Once fused, you're a customer for life since the discs above are going to degrade a bit quicker since they are more stressed by the lack of the disc(s) below.

For 2 1/2 years I feel like they want to diagnose, operate and dispense opiates. We'll see you next month. Did we get your co-pay?

Next patient please......

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Old 11-22-2008, 09:54 PM
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Terry Terry is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,210

It is absolutely true that all of us will shrink with age as our discs will shrink and be less hydrated. There are people with absolutely horrible MRI's that have no pain whatsoever and others that have minor MRI findings with the patient in excruciating agony. No rhyme or reason but pain sucks, no matter what, and robs us of the joys in life that we all live for.

There has been an argument waging for years about the disease of alcoholism. Some people do not believe in the; "Disease Concept" of alcoholism. They wish to call it a choice and a behavior.

At the end of the day it does not matter what one believes as the problem is still there.

Disease or not, it still needs to be treated.

You, the patient, deserve to feel better.

I am very pragmatic when dealing with patients as well. I do my best not to argue about the disease itself. I work on helping people to feel better.

Ultimately, that is your physicians responsibility as well; to help you feel better.

Terry Newton
1980 ruptured L4-L5
1988 ruptured SI-L5
1990 ruptured C5-C6
1994 ruptured C6-C7
1995 Hemi-Laminectomy C5-C6, C6-C7 Mayo Clinic
Bicycle Accident 2004
MRI, EMG, Facet Injections, Epidural Blocks, Lumbar Discogram.
Stenum Hospital Surgery November 4, 2006
Prestige Disc C5-C6, C6-C7
Maverick Disc S1-L5, L4-L5
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Old 11-22-2008, 09:56 PM
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Default MRI Bad backs

Hi Adrienne

You have a good point. 500 people could have MRI and 450 of them will have bad backs with no pain the other 50 might have pain. I know this and my point was more education by some Dr to the patient would of possibly helped me?
Thank You for replying.

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Old 11-22-2008, 10:14 PM
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trkdoc714 trkdoc714 is offline
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Posts: 137
Default Ddd


I was diagnosed with DDD at L2-3 and down to L5-S1 with a few surprises on the way down. I agree with Adrienne. Everybody has DDD from their 30s and on. It's normal aging. There's just a select few of us (in contrast with the total population) that are lucky enough to get the radiating pain associated with it. Since we fuse, fuse, fuse, we change the dynamics of how our backs were intended to move. The fusion may correct the immediate problem but creates a new dynamic that is unpredictable in large part.

My wife was just diagnosed with DDD in her cervical discs. She admitted she had no idea how painful it could be even though she was right there beside me for both discectomies and their complications.

A lot of doctors don't truly understand either. Since I'm still having problems, I have been diagnosed with "failed back surgery syndrome" which the mere mention of that diagnosis causes involuntary shoulder shrugs from most of the medical community.

My office visits with the pain management doctor always start with him handing me three 30 day prescriptions for Percocet 7.5/500 of 90 per month. He has little means to find the pain generator(s) and the orthos in his office have better things to do with their time such as well defined sports injuries that are easy to diagnose, treat and are easily coded for insurance claims.

I keep changing surgeons hoping to find a different attitude but so far it seems the same. That's why I'm looking toward Europe and ADR.

Hang in there,

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Old 11-23-2008, 01:33 PM
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Harrison Harrison is offline
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Posts: 6,914
Default Good points all around...

Just a reminder and clarification on's one of many definitions available:

What is the Definition of Degenerative Disc Disease?

Article updated and reviewed by Scott J. Luhmann, MD, Instructor in Surgery, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine on June 6, 2005.

Degenerative disc disease refers to wear changes in the individual discs of the spine in any part of the spine. Spondylosis is another term for degenerative disc disease.

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease can result from trauma (either acute or chronic/repetitive), infection, or the natural processes of aging. It can euphemistically be referred to as the “grey hairs of the spine.”

Description of Degenerative Disc Disease

DDD can affect any part of the spine, although common sites are the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) spine; thoracic DDD is very uncommon.

Radiographic (x-ray) findings of DDD are a narrower disc space and some osteophyte (bony outgrowth of spur) formation. As people age, these changes tend to show up on the radiographs of most men and women. However, the first imaging modality to detect changes of DDD is MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), even before plain radiographs. Loss of water content (hydration) in the invertebral disc is an early finding, which is followed by narrowing of the disc space. People in the 20s and 30s may already have changes to their discs but no clinical symptoms. As the aging processes continues, the prevalence of DDD increases.

In the early phases of DDD, spontaneous or post-traumatic tears, degeneration, fibrosis, and collapse of the disc may lead to failure of mechanical function. This is associated with low back pain and possible leg pain if there is nerve root impingement (radiculopathy).

As DDD progresses, there is ligamentous buckling and osteophyte development which can cause narrowing of the space for the spinal cord and nerve roots. Lumbar spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the neural canal and foramina to an extent that results in compression of the lumbosacral nerve roots or cauda equina. Acquired lumbar stenosis is caused primarily be degenerative disease of the spine. However, a congenitally narrow or small spinal canal is a common finding; when present, it requires less disc degeneration, smaller disc herniation, or osteophytes to cause symptoms.

"Harrison" - info (at)
Fell on my ***winter 2003, Canceled fusion April 6 2004
Reborn June 25th, 2004, L5-S1 ADR Charite in Boston
Founder & moderator of ADRSupport - 2004
Founder Arthroplasty Patient Foundation a 501(c)(3) - 2006
Creator & producer, Why Am I Still Sick? - 2012
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Old 11-23-2008, 03:00 PM
Alastair Alastair is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,391

Remember, a torn disc or degenerative disc does not mean that it is the pain generator, that is found out via Discography.

Recently I have noted a number of patients worldwide who have had surgery without Discography which has ended up in unsuccessful surgery. Before one even should think about surgery, you should have evidence with Discography to justify the procedure and the cost of surgery.
ADR Munich 26th July 2002 L5/S1. Aged 82 now
Your best asset is your health
My story is here
Thank goodness for Dr Zeegers I am painfree
I am here to help,I live in the UK

I now run the UK spine site and can be contacted at
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Old 11-23-2008, 03:25 PM
builder5840 builder5840 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 67

I have to say that I don't really care what they call it although I know that they must call it something. I just wish that Doctors would realize that Just becuase they can't see the pain doesn't mean that its not there! I fell from a ladder and landing on my right elbow and butt at the same time. For the first week all I felt was my elbow pain, but once that went away my neck began to hurt so I went to my doctor and he initially took xrays which showed minor ddd but in his words there was nothing there that would cause the pain I was having. over the next three month the pain increased so his initial response was to put me on neurotin, which didn't help but he continued to increase the dose until I began to have halucinations, then he began the MRI, CT, and got me to the Neurosurgeon which also did nerve testing.

And at the end of all that the same response from them minor ddd with minor disc buldging C,5,6,7 but this shouldn't be cuasing my pain. Oh I should have said that 80% of my pain is neck pain with little pain down my arms although I was having numbness in both arms and my neck as well which my numbeness scale was 50/50. There final decision was to start me on opiots becuase I shouldn't be having this pain that i'm having or they don't know what is cuasing it so put me on drugs and get me out of there hair. After a couple of years of that I went back and told them we had to do something and so all of the test started again but nothing diffinative until I went in for my discography which reproduced my pain at C5,6,7 and showed tearing of both disc, cuase most likely from my fall.

The doctors attitudes have changed since that test but my pain level has increased since then, not sure but suspect that the test further damaged my disc? Anyways like you all said earlier many have ddd with no pain and so it seems to me that doctors use this as an excuse when they don't have answers. If your talking just ddd mine has doubled in the last three years but it's just now to the point where doctors start thinking that it could be cuasing some problems? Just goes to show that we are all different and that we must give the doctors that realize this and take the time to deal cudo's. but a lot seem to say on one hand that we are all different but on the other want to treat us all the same?

Fall from ladder on 05
Lots of pain DDD C5,6,7
two level ADR scheduled March 09 Discover disc
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Old 11-24-2008, 08:49 PM
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KBear KBear is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 163

I was shocked to read my medical records and reports recently (as I got them for my insurance appeal). The dr's had been acting like there was no way I could be hurting so bad, like I was crazy. Even though the MRI did show a tear, herniation at L4/5 (with nothing at any other levels, perfectly healthy; so it wasn't like all my levels were bad, just one). The diagnosis was DDD after Idet. They still had 'no idea' why I hurt so badly and referred me out.

Then I get to my new dr., they look at old MRI's and see DDD, and immediately suggest seeing a surgeon for ADR and order new MRI's with and without contrast. The surgeons, both suggest ADR and I have my second discogram. I finally have someone with compassion (although the pain management dr, not the surgeon, has not been to willing to adjust my medicine, since I have been hurting a lot more). I think that what Adrienne said plays a huge part in them not telling; but they should tell people and just explain that it is 'normal' and can or can not cause pain.
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