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Old 05-11-2006, 09:31 AM   #1
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Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

I am new to this forum thing but am desparate to speak to anyone who has similar experiences to me.... Have had lower back pain for 5 years now, after 3 years of PD & treatment it shows I have severe disc degeneration in L3/4, which means its not herniated but torn through and collapsed. Having exhausted all non surgical treatments with no joy I have been sent away to think about possible disc replacement or spinal stabilisation or nothing at all. I cannot live the way I am now for the rest of my days .. every day activities are difficult & uncomfortable. Sitting down is fine but have problems to stand or walk after a short period of time. Putting socks on after the shower can cause challenges !! ... So am wanting to pursue the surgical option. Fusion has been discussed but have been advised its too risky, also disc replacement may cause problem later on as there is no 'back out'plan .. 2 other options have been suggested, the Wallis Ligament or Dynesys which basically stabilises the spine but isnt as final or drastic as fusion. Has anyone heard of these at all ?... Would be grateful for ANY guidance, feedback on degenerative disc problems as the Docs have been great but sometimes its best to speak to normal people on the ground who have seen it, done it and got the t-shirt !! ...

 
Old 05-11-2006, 02:54 PM   #2
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

I have DDD in L3-4,4-5, S1. I have had the injections, PT and meds. I was told that the fusion limits your ability to move so I said no plus it was not recommended because of my age 50+. The discussion of Spinal Cord Stimulator implant was also brought up but my pain relief success would have been only a possible 5%. So that oo was put aside. I do not know all the techniques used in the UK. You may have options that we do not have here in the US.
I have settled to use narcotic meds (only when it is unbearable). I do alot of aquatic walking and exercise. The water relieves the pain. I had surgery in 1991 for discectomy of L3-4,4-5 and thought that would cure all, but I was told as we getting older and abuse our bodies they get back at you. So now the DDD is worse than diagnosed in 1991. I am now disabled.
I'm not a success story but thought you might want to hear my input.

 
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Old 05-11-2006, 03:22 PM   #3
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

Hi Shore! Been there, done that.. DARN.. NO T-SHIRT OR A KISS! NUTS! lol.. like your humor, which is important to keep up through these hard times we are having for sure!

Im 44, have DDD too, L4-L5, L5-S1 is bulging. I went through all conservative treatment options here in the US for almost 3 years. I had a discogram done and proved L4-L5 was torn and badly leaking. L5-S1.. did not respond to the test, which means no pain coming from the bulging disc.

I wanted the ADR, but with our insurance system here in the US.. it's was just recently approved by our government here as a treatment, so many of our insurance companies will not pay for it yet. And it was way way too expensive to pay for on my own.

I opted for the fusion, with mirco surgery, so no big incision, just tiny holes in my back, so it was done posterior and not thru the front. The took some bone out to access, cleaned out what was left of the disc, recyled the bone they took out, and mixed it with BMP (bone protein) and put it in the disc space. They put in a few screws to hold it still.

As far as lose of range of motion, I lost so much range of motion from my pain before surgery, I will notice very little once I am healed and as all docs I have seen, will probably see an increase since I have been so limited.

Remember that it's the twisting and shock absorber type up-down range where it is lost. And it's only about 5%. When you bend down to tie your shoe or put that sock on.. most of that is your hips moving not your back. And that far down in the spine.. not that noticeable. So that is what I have been told, and only in time can I tell you for sure, as I am only 3 weeks post-op.

I have no knowledge of other two procedures you mentioned that are less invasive then a fusion available to you, but maybe that is worth a go perhaps. If they dont work, are you still able to have a fusion after the fact? That is something to consider.

I hope this helps you some. It's nice to know we are not alone and indeed talking with people living it too, can be so much help in making us feel a little bit better. No body understands better than when they have been through the same or similiar situation. I hope you are feeling better real soon! Please.. keep posting and let us know how you are doing and just to chat. Tammy

 
Old 05-11-2006, 06:11 PM   #4
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

I read a few articles on DDD and basically, the good news if anything, is that as you get older, the DDD pain should decrease... Basically, the "jelly" dries up and there is less to leak out... The articles say usually after 60, there is less and less pain... 16 more years to go for me! Not sure if this is true or not, but I did read it on some reputable sites... Does anone know of this being true or not? I always thought that as we get older, it will just keep getting worse...

Shore.. why did your doctors say that fusion is too risky in your case? My neighbor is 50 years old, and had major op where his lower lumbar was bent at 45 degree angle and pinching nerve in a major way.. They pulled the spine straight, fused vertibrae, and he is hopping around like nothing ever happened and it has only been 4 months.... I was amazed.

Get better... Maurice

 
Old 05-12-2006, 01:18 AM   #5
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

Thanks to you all for replying - really appreciate it. Think the biggest problem for me so far has been trying to talk to others who have the same problem & to decide what to do next. Sooo to hear from people who know exactly what its like and can discuss their treatment is just grrreat :-)
Like most of you I have had the steriod injections and discogram which shows athritis in the facet joints and slight bulging in 4 levels, with L3/4 being the most knackered. Have seen 3 consultants, one was a neurosurgeon who does fusion but thought it best to try other options first as fusion was so final with not a high success rate. The next was an orthopeadic surgeon who suggested disc replacement and the third one, also an orthopeadic surgeon wasnt too keen on the replacement but suggested stabilisation using Wallis Ligament & Dyneses which is like fusion but allows movement. If that fails I still have the fusion option .. I have 9 weeks to think about it and do my research before going back to make my decision. My dilemma no is kowing what to do ... Please keep me posted on how you guys are doing ....am very interested to track your progress. Thanks again for your feedback. Hope I have replied to this ok ... Need to get more familiar with this forum tool thingy ...

 
Old 05-12-2006, 10:23 AM   #6
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

Hi,
I also had DDD of level 3/4 and also 4/5. I suffered with diblitating back pain for 20 odd years, each year getting worse. Went through rounds and rounds of PT, injections, RF lessioning, you name it I did it. I tried several times for a 2 level ADR, but my surgery kept getting canceled... so 7 months ago I called and gave into a 2 level fusion. The surgery was difficult in the beginning and recovery was well boring...but immediately after surgery when I woke up for the first time in years I felt my legs and I was pain free. For months I listened to the Dr. no bending no twisting and only started PT in my 6th month. Now I feel better than I have in years...I'm 100% more active than I have been in years and I also have a better range of motion that I've had in a long time, I haven't lost any which I am thankful for because I was really scared I would be able to do normal everyday things, but I'm better than ever. A fusion is a roll of the dice, but my pain was so servere I was will to take the chance of things not turning out well, I really had nothing to lose, but in the end it was more than worth it. oh I was 34 when I had surgery.

 
Old 05-12-2006, 06:05 PM   #7
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

Glad to hear that there is a success story for a change... I hope that everyone has same relief..


And Shore... keep us posted.. I will pray for you.

MM

 
Old 05-25-2006, 08:48 AM   #8
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

I have DDD also. One more wk of pt and then I am done. On Lyrica 75 mg 3 times a day. Still in pain. Had the injections. Not a candidate for surgery (that's good). What is exactly the aquatic walking? I am interested in anything that will help with the daily pain.

 
Old 05-25-2006, 09:27 AM   #9
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

Aquatic walking is walking in a pool. Some PT locations have pools and use water as part of their therapy treatment. You can join private health clubs that have pools and they also have sessions just for water walking. YMCA's also have pools.
I enjoy the aquatic therapy but you have to watch sometimes the water is so relaxing you forget and do too much.
Now that the summer is here I will be doing most of my walking at our local pool.
My doctor said that you can walk for up to an hour and get more exercise that walking using a treadmill or just the ground for half the time.

 
Old 05-25-2006, 11:35 AM   #10
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

hi shore, i am seeing my surgeon tommorrow, got my pre op assessment. i am having a extended fusion on L4/L5( dynesys fusion) plus a disc removed and nerves decompressed. i am in so much pain, i am currently on oramorph and tramadol, which is not taking the pain away. i am like a zombie.. i am showing red flag symptons as my bladder is affected, don't know if any else has this problem, if i am sitting or lying down i am fine but as soon as i move around i become slightly incontinent mega embarrasing. i have been suffering with my back for about four years now and tried all sorts. oestopath, physio, injections and several different medications. been off work off and on for two years.. do about a month then off for three months a time. if you go to zimmer spine on the web it gives you some information about dynesys. i am a little worried about the op but i look at it as its got to be better then all this suffering. i feel for everyone who suffers with their back. the things that we take for granted we are unable to do.. but i keep on smiling and i am doing my best to be positive.. just wandering now how long i will have to wait for operation, hope they tell me tommor.. love jewels xx

 
Old 05-26-2006, 12:18 PM   #11
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

Hi Shore:
Just thought I would add my experiences and see if that offers anything for you. I too have DDD in 3 discs (low back) and have been dealing with this for almost 7 years. Discogram was positive for 2 discs several years ago and a follow up discogram 1 1/2 yrs later showed 3 discs bad. Did Epidurals, oral steroids, PT, IDET on two levels (failed) and a surgeon wouldn't touch me because my discs are so bad. A couple years ago had the discussion with doctor that it was now a matter of life long pain control. Had a morphine pump implanted and it delivers a constant flow of the med to my spine. Still have to take oral narcotics too for the pain and am permanant and totally disabled. The morphine pump is usually much more helpful than it is in my situation so it maybe something you want to consider down the road if you exhaust all your other options.
Hope you find some relief soon - DDD is pain in the hiney and I wish you much luck!

 
Old 05-26-2006, 05:38 PM   #12
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

Often a fusion is not done if the attached levels are deteriorated. If you have additional levels showing degeneration that degeneration will only be enhanced by having one level fused. Also it is unusual for L3-L4 to be the most degenerated level. Usually L4-L5 or L5-S1 is the most likely level effected. Disc replacement also requires that the adjoining levels are sound. Hope this helps explain why the hesitation to do any kind of fusion or replacement surgery.
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Old 05-26-2006, 07:16 PM   #13
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

I'm 18 years old, i have DDD too. (pretty bad in my L5/S1 and sort of in my L5/L4) I'm pretty much in the same boat as you, I have bad pain most of the time, but I've only had this problem for about a year. I'm going in tuesday for my first epidural injection. I'm relaly hoping this helps. Good luck with everything, let me know how it goes

hoyt

 
Old 05-26-2006, 08:00 PM   #14
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

Charliecat,

If your discs are so bad, why have they not considered a 3-level fusion on you? I don't understand why that could not be an option for you, instead of a life on narcotics that dont take away the pain. Are your bones an issue in the reason for not being able to even think about fusing? Have they considered the elcectrode implant (forgot what they call it) to interrrupt the signals of the pain? You poor dear. Tammy

 
Old 05-26-2006, 08:45 PM   #15
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Re: Degenerative Disc problem L3/4 - Help !!

A three level fusion should only be done in the most extreme conditions and no it does not always stop pain in fact a lot of the time it can cause a lot more problems. Pain management is often the only way to go.
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