Hi everyone, i'm new here and just trying to find some more information. I'm 17 years old and diagnosed with servere Degenerative Disc Disease and spinal stenosis. My L5-S1 disc is completely gone which concludes why I have been having horrible lower back pain. I have never really heard about this condition and never really paid attention to it. I have been trying to do some research on it. So far i'm still rather confused why I have DDD at a young age and why one of my discs are already completely gone, again at such a young age. The doctor I had said it could be genetics and my life style, thou I am going to be getting a second opinion. Another question I have is I have started treatment of meds, physical therapy, and steroid shots, but since my disc is gone will it most likely lead to me having surgery to replace the disc?? The doctor who is an orthepedic suergon said that we will see how i'm doing with this treatment for 3 months and go from there, but i'm just curious if I will most likely end up having surgery. Now that I understand what is going on, I have so many questions!!!
You are very young to have the disc space totally gone. The level will just self fuse as it does in older folks who often have spaces where the disc is totally worn down. Another words instead of a surgical fusion yours will be a natural one. Very little will be lost in your flexibility but when one level is fused the levels above have to absorb more stress. Hopefully surgery will be unnecessary for the stenosis. A very conservative approach is warranted here.
Welcome to the board. You certainly are young to have this sort of back issue. Do you have immediate family with bad backs?
Degenerative disc disease is really a misnomer as it makes it sound like something that just continues to get worse and worse. As I'm sure you've discovered, there is tons of information about DDD on the internet...some of it better than others. Keep that in mind as you are reading.
Even though it sounds like a disease for "old" people, keep in mind that our spines are better suited for critters that walk on four legs. Our spines begin the aging process in our twenties, although for most of us, it is nothing noticeable.
As pooby suggested, the condition usually takes care of itself, with time...but it is painful in the process. Sometimes surgery is necessary if a spinal nerve becomes compressed in between the bones.
If you choose to get another opinion, particularly if your current doctor recommends surgery, you might want to look for a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Your bones are still growing, so it might be important to have a pediatric surgeon who is used to working with this issue.