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PAINFUL DDD, 35 years old, Dr. says no to fusion.



  • Just curious does this mean your fusion was a failure?

  • I have facet ddd mild but 3 years later. Much pain. try spinal decompression. It is working!!!
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  • I'm 49 and have DDD also and had 3 opinions and no surgery was their answer. I'm starting with physiotherapy to do aqua therapy in a heated pool probably on Thursday. I'm going to learn core strengthening exercises in the water as I'm unable to walk or do any form of exercise except some peddling on the recumbent exercise bicycle. The Drs think surgery wouldn't help me so I'm hoping the pool therapy will help. Keep looking for a Dr that will help you. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I just turned 39 and I had a two tier spinal fusion..I was fused from l3,4,5 and S1 in february of this year. They diagnosed me with DDD , spinal stenois. I also had a laminectomy . It is extremly painful. I thought I would recover and bounce back after 3 months but its been 9 months and I still have incredible pain. i go to therapy 3 times a week i have tried acupuncture and every medication under the sun to feel better . I went from a healthy woman who kept up with my 9 yr old to now someone who can even wash the floor. This is not an easy surgery to recover from...I would suggest you try everything else before thinking about doing this. Exercise, chiropractor, injections.
  • spinal decompression is's the only thing that gives me some relief since my surgery.
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  • I'm a newbie to the forum but I was wondering something: I've read in various articles that DDD is common, starts in the 20's or 30's, and that the pain can actually improve over time. Also, DDD isn't always associated with pain, so the pain response might be related to something else.

    Could that be why docs are reluctant to do surgery and try to focus more on pain management?

    Anyway, wondering what people thoughts are about that.
  • I am 32 years old (female) and I had PLIF at L5-S1. it is a major decision, but a one level fusion came with a 75%-80% chance of significanlty reduced pain, or resolution of the pain. My dr. was sure to do another (more recent) discogram to be sure the levels above were not damaged (in my case it was just the mentioned level that was horrible - severe DDD, annular tear and herniation) My pain was constant and severe. destroyed my quality of life.

    But here is the good news! My surgery was a terrific success. I even investiagted ALIF, and disc replacement, but decided to go with PLIF, and the surgeon that I felt was the most qualified. (by the way, any dr. that spends less than 30-45 mins. examining you, talking with you and answering all of your questions, is not qualified (in my personal opinion and expereince) to give you an accurate diagnosis. PERIOD. And you should see the Dr. several times prior to your surgery. My dr. was also the only one I saw (and I saw many) that wanted to re-do and old disco for more up to date info. To me, the choice was clear. My advice is not to stop looking until you find the right doctor.

    Just a word of warning too...some insurance companies are starting to say that fusion is not indicated for the treatment of severe DDD, which is so NOT true, they just know it is an expensive surgery and week long hospital stay. I fought them tooth and denials were done by a nurse and family practice physician...seriously? As if they could know more about my conditon than my nuerosurgeon? Fight can win! (I have several times)

    In the end, I wish I had done this surgery sooner, as I suffered for 12+ years (my whole young adult life) I am so thankful I didn't wait another day! You can recover from this!
  • I would avoid surgery for degenerative disc changes at your age.

    I am a physician and I see lots of people that go in for fusion surgery and then end up having to have revision surgeries and extension of the fusions. So, in a young person I would be concerned that you would have a long future of surgeries ahead of you.

    There are a few things worth keeping in mind. First, discs are not the only thing in the back that can cause pain. It is worth considering the possibility of having your pain be related to lumbar facet joints at least in part. Have you tried facet injections or medial branch blocks?

    Second, it is likely worth revisiting the exercise interventions that you have done. We can make most back pain better with exercise if it is tailored to what is your specific pain generator and 'taking the pressure' off joints or discs with exercise.

    Think hard before getting an extensive fusion.

    I have some exercises posted on my blog EDITED Let me know what you think.

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  • I am a 33 year old Fireman with three little ones. I have had back pain since 2004. It has really gotten worse the last 3 years. I have Deg. Disk Disease in my L4-L5 and worse in the L5-S1. They are also herniated. I have had a ton of epidurals, sometimes giving me a short period of relief. I had an Intradiscal that really made me feel better for six months, that was last year. Wow, those were the days. My surgeon does not want to give me another one due to Infection. I had a Discogram done and although he over pressurized the discs he could not reproduce my pain. He was puzzled at the results and decided I was not a canidate for disc surgery and the problem lies in my facet joints. Well two facet injections later, not quite. I have taken Lyrica, didn't help. I am again trying the Naprean and seeing a Rheumatologist, though it hopefully helps, my pain lies deeper than arthritis. I am now up to 6 30mg roxicodones a day, definetly not where I invisioned myself a year ago. My second opinion said that he can do the fusion but can't guarantee it will help me. Thanks alot. These surgeons I am seeing are the best in New Jersey, that is a fact. I am in so much pain and not only missing the best job in the world but missing out on doing anything with my children. I can't play with them, give them baths, and sometimes miss out on them growing up. Sorry so long, my first post.
  • I had my first fusion at the ripe age of 22. I have experienced the domino effect to some degree. I had my second fusion at 32, to repair the first one that fell apart, and another level because of the damaged done to that disc from the fusion. The doc told me that a fusion's life span was from 10-15 years depending on activity. I don't know if this is an accepted time frame or for me due to my age and at that time activity levels. I really hope I don't have to repeat this every 10-15 years. I know the level above my last fusion is already herniated, but not enough to worry about. You are young, but age has nothing to do with injury. I have heard this again and again one back surgery will lead to another, which will lead to another. It isn't a optimistic outlook I know, but for me it has been true. Good luck. BTW I'm 40 now and most likely will be operated on again in January. Good luck
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