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Black disc

My 21 year old son has been down in the back for 13 months! We have spent thousands of dollars and been to 7 different PT and 4 different DR’s. We finally got a diagnosis other he has a black disc or dehydrated disc. She said since he is 21 she would not recommend surgery and that we would even have a hard time trying to get a DR to do it. He can’t sit for more than 10-15 min without having to get up so he can’t take college classes right now. We had to get a medical withdraw. He has no life right now except laying around the house. He does do physical therapy. He tries to work out a little and does his stretches but is very limited in what he can do, because of pain!! He is getting very depressed and his life has drastically changed. I have him and appointment with a DO, does anyone have any recommendations or suggestions ? 



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 5,916

    I am so sorry for your son, pain has no age. Did he ever see a neurologist? Is the pain coming from the disc or the nerve?
    You can research this by going to the search box at the top of the page and key in "dehydrated disc".  You will also find other member's discussion on this. Below is an article for you to read also.
    Take care of both of you and please keep us posted.
    Disc Definitions - Bulging / Herniated / Slipped

  • I was just like your son trying to avoid the pain bedridden a lot I realize is not good for spine. Doctors couldn’t find the source of problem and my is due to mva. I can’t let the pain stop me so I started stay more active doing stuff around the house even though the pain is there. 

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  • L4_L5LL4_L5 Posts: 1,416
    edited 11/18/2018 - 3:04 PM

    Did he have only an X-ray or MRI too?

    If he had an MRI what did the results say?

    Has he seen an orthopedic spine surgeon or only neurologists and neurosurgeons?

    Did the pain come on suddenly due to an injury or slowly over time?

    Where are his symptoms located?

    Does he have any weakness in his legs?

    Has he tried water therapy or only land therapy?

    An 85-year-old man at my church (Korean War Vet) always says “if there is pain then there is no gain.”

    “If there is pain then there is no gain.”

    And that’s coming from a war veteran!

    Personally for me it depends on the severity and the quality of the pain.

    In the past I’ve had bad injuries where being tough on myself and pushing through physical therapy was the best thing I did to get my quality of life back.

    But the PT I’ve done for my back the past 2 1/2 years hasn’t helped one iota.

    If I was a dad or mom I would err on the side that he’s in a lot of pain and to not push him more than he’s comfortable. 

    That’s just me.

    I know a woman who had a single level fusion (I think L5-S1) and is doing excellent.

    She exercises hardcore three hours a day. 

    Mostly cardio but some strength training.

    She’s just as strong now as before her fusion.

    She is 49 but has the physique of a 25 year old.

    Please keep us posted. I’m very sorry to hear he’s struggling so significantly.

  • Thank you all! We have seen an orthopedic surgeon and a neurologist. They say the nerves are not affected by the MRI results and also because his pain doesn’t radiate down his leg! Strictly across  lower back. He has dhad one PT 3 times a week for a year. It seems to have just suddenly came on. He was playing basketball, left the church where he was playing completely fine. Drove home , got out of the car and said his back just kind of locked up. It hasn’t been better since then and that was one year ago last month! I was curious if anyone has had an experience with a fusion at his young age?

  • I had spinal fusion surgery at 12 for scoliosis. I'm fused from T1-L2. The surgery went well but now I'm dealing with disc issues too below by fusion. Might have to get fused all the way down. Which I'm very  fearful of

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  • If I was your son I’d give it another five months (18 months total) and if no improvement ask two neurosurgeons their recommendations. If they both say fusion then I’d have the fusion. 

    Good luck. Please keep us posted.

  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 917

    nicoleshayes - I highly recommend getting another spine surgeons opinion for your son (second opinion).  Where there is pain, there is a cause.  It took 10 second opinions for before I got my third neck ACDF. 

  • It’s not uncommon to get 3-5 second opinions (sometimes more, as nutcase pointed out).

    If I was getting five second opinions I’d look for a common thread (if there is one) based on the totality of the appmts I attend.

    The more input I get the more comfortable I am as to how best to proceed.

  • I had basically the same thing at 23 years old, nobody could find the problem till I had a myleogram, that's what final found the problem

  • Unfortunately depression and dispare are part of chronic pain and unfortunately not everyone believes you are truly in pain. Definitely get more opinions, fortunately there are many treatments out there to try, just keep trying. Please let him know you do believe him but don’t over nurture as it can also be detrimental. As mva2018 suggested, stay active even when you feel you can’t . I am currently waiting for surgery but have found prolotherapy really has really helped me. I hope he feels better soon. 

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