Gransnet forums

Health

Degenerative Disc Disease

(14 Posts)
Corryanna Tue 07-Jul-20 17:03:54

I was diagnosed with this 9 years ago. Mixed opinion from GPs - some think it's only to be expected in people 55+, others are sympathetic and believe it's serious and painful.
Does anyone else have this? I was in a bad car accident where my spine was badly injured when I was 16, so it's not (only) age-related. Anyway, I'm on strong co-codamol which has been ok for about 5 years, but now I can't walk without pain and walking uphill is nigh on impossible. I have a phone appointment with my understanding GP on
Monday and will ask if I can have an MRI scan (I'm bearing in mind that Covid is the priority and I am not) and if there's stronger pain relief.
If anyone has had this can you help me with any advice? I did try Butec patches last year (change patch weekly) but after about a month, I was allergic to the glue so GP said not to use them anymore. I've had Tramadol but Co-codamol was better. Any DDD sufferers out there who can relate to this?

Marydoll Tue 07-Jul-20 17:11:48

After fracturing my spine in two places many years ago, and years of swallowing various and ineffective painkillers, I was referred to the pain clinic. I'm now on a slow release Fentanyl patch. It has made made such a difference.
It can be addictive, but my dose has never changed in ten years.

Time to revisit your GP. I hope you get some relief in the not too distant future..

Corryanna Tue 07-Jul-20 17:25:43

Thank you Marydoll. I've been at our pain clinic too - they recommended the tramadol which was next to useless, as is the co-codamol now after about an hour. I feel more positive knowing that someone has found some relief at last.

Nannarose Tue 07-Jul-20 17:42:48

Hello, I have had this as well. Mine got to the point of needing a spinal operation. I didn't have long-standing pain as it degenerated very quickly.
Please can I suggest that you don't tell the GP what investigations you think you want?
Describe the problem and ask what the next procedure is. It may well be MRI, but 'pathways' vary from area to area. In mine, the GP can request an Xray, and from that, they can refer to a spinal specialist who requests a MRI before consultation. The pathway in your area may involve GPs being able to request a MRI, or there may already be Xrays, given your previous problems. But my experience is that if you tell health professionals what to do, you may chase down a blind alley. Allow them to assess you and discuss the next step.
I hope it can proceed quickly. They will be aware of the long-term problems if it is degenerating badly.
If it is going to take long, then I suggest you ask for some sort of pain referral, which can be very helpful.
Good luck.

Toadinthehole Tue 07-Jul-20 18:06:42

My husband was diagnosed with DDD at age 50, which led to stenosis of the spine. Initially, he had steroid injections which gave him relief for about three months. Subsequent injections had effect for less time. There were the catalogue of exercises and stretches which did really help. In fact exercise was far better than the painkillers, so cocodamol and tramadol, which just knocked him out. Although they did help with any spasm which came as a result of the condition. Avoided surgery until he felt he couldn’t use his legs properly, and then he went for decompression. This was effective at getting rid of the leg pain, and definitely helped with the walking, but the back pain didn’t change much. He had the same surgery for different discs a few years ago, and I would say overall, he’s much improved, possibly due to some lifestyle changes, so semi retired. I agree with Nannarose, let them diagnose you. Also, get at least two opinions. Some surgeons swear by the surgery....some don’t. It’s what is best for you. All the best.

Corryanna Tue 07-Jul-20 20:11:00

Thanks ladies and I’ve discussed MRI with my Dr before, his suggestion prior to referral to consultant. I am quite far down this road and consultant said there’s not an op on God’s earth that will help me, but recommended steroid injections for between the discs.When I went to theatre for this, the anaesthetist said she couldn’t do it because there was no space between the bottom few discs as they had all fused together, hence the pain of disc rubbing on disc. I have the telephone appointment for next week so fingers crossed 🤞 for some relief.

Toadinthehole Fri 10-Jul-20 15:20:31

Mr Toad here. So sorry to hear you're in constant pain and that the consultant has said no operation will help. In my case the discs squashed the spinal cord that initially caused pain in the legs, then numbness and then my legs started to not work at all if I walked or stood too long! The decompression surgery helps with this. Back surgery has significant risks so tried other routes first, but in the end it has been helpful. I have been left with some loss of power in the legs, but lost a lot of pain in my legs. Pain in lower back more intense but overall there is a gain. I say this as you say about pain walking. If this is in the legs then you may have stenosis (MRI will show) and decompression may be an option.
My discs changed over the years and had a number of MRIs so could be worthwhile you having a new scan - clues in the name 'degenerative'.
Sorry to hear they couldn't do the steroid injections - did you have a follow-up appointment to discuss the next step? Certainly sounds like you need to see a specialist again, perhaps a different team!
I find exercise helpful. Walking is still limited so I cycle/swim to get my heartrate up and my circulation going. This can reduce inflammation whilst releasing natural endorphins (pain killers). This can also strengthen the mucles to support the spine as well. Hard work, and I can't always do it, but I find it more effective than being zoned out on strong painkillers. Having said that please check with the specialist what exercises you can do, safely. I think the biggest problem with this disability is understanding what the pain is telling us. We naturallly assume we can't do something because of pain ... but it maybe we can do some things without causing further 'injury' but need to learn how to deal with the pain. If the surgeons can't help further then make sure you're referred to a pain clinic to discuss this aspect.
Hope this is helpful and you have a fruitful session with the GP.

grannypiper Fri 10-Jul-20 16:29:00

Have had DDD for nearly a decade. Have been on Tramadol, Co-codamol etc but nothing works. Corryanna you seem to be pinning a lot of hope on a M.R.I, having one will make no difference to your pain. The scan will show the problem but you will still have the pain. I had a M.R.I 5 years ago, it was a waste of time and resources. All it told me was that it would get worse not better the more i aged ( i was 47 at the time). Gentle exercise is the only way forward.

Toadinthehole Fri 10-Jul-20 18:14:11

Mr Toad again,
I had an MRI at 47: no problems. 3 years later a second MRI showed stenosis so I started having steroid injections. 4 years later and things getting worse, 3rd MRI showed stenosis was severe on 3 discs and had surgery. 3 years later got worse again and 4th MRI showed 4th disc causing new stenosis, so had further surgery. In my case having MRIs were useful particularly as surgical intervention was beneficial.
Corryanna you say the vertebrae have fused together? My consultant said one possibility could be to pin/ fuse my spine to help things and wondered if something like might be applicable for you? I’m not an expert but would recommend getting a second opinion. But totally agree with grannypiper in that gentle exercise is best - avoid surgery if you can!

Corryanna Sat 11-Jul-20 16:59:12

I have had the opinions of two consultants and 4 different GPs (due to moving locations) over a 10 year period. One GP told me to not to walk, another to walk, but not over long distances, and the other two told me this is inevitable to someone of my age (I was 55 at the time).
There is a Facebook Group called "Degenerative Disc Disease" which some of us may find helpful. I have joined it and reading some of the sufferer's stories is interesting (reassuring and understandingly sympathetic too, I may add).

Nannarose Sat 11-Jul-20 17:20:49

Corryanna, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I was not clear from your initial post that operating was not an option.
I'm afraid that my experience is so different that I can't offer any help, but do think a pain clinic referral would be useful.

GrandmaMoira Sat 11-Jul-20 17:53:55

I found acupuncture helpful which was provided by the Pain Clinic.

Corryanna Sat 11-Jul-20 20:39:52

Thanks again and I’m sorry for sounding grumpy in my last message but the pain is almost unbearable. I think I’ll just tell the dr on the phone Monday that the pain is the worst it’s ever been. I’ve only had one X-ray since this started and the pain seems to have spread since then. Anyway, see what the appointment brings and take it from there.

Corryanna Sat 11-Jul-20 20:41:01

Ps
Thank you Mr Toad for your posts