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WHAT IS DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I found this great post on Pinterest from author Danni Newcomb on Hub Pages.  She explains that ‘Degenerative Disc Disease (or DDD) is caused by degeneration of the discs in the spinal column. Age can cause this, but most of the time it is cause by some sort of trauma to the spine. People with bulging or herniated disc almost always have this disease, as well as people with Scoliosis.

Symptoms range from person to person as well as the particular location of the spinal injury. People with lower back injuries can experience numbness and tingling in the legs and buttocks. The symptoms can also get as severe as temporary paralysis in the legs or a particular leg. Someone with upper back pain can experience headaches, numbness and tingling of the neck and arms (or arm). Muscle spasms, memory loss, and weakness in the limbs are also possible symptoms.

In some cases, DDD has been seen as a hereditary disease. However, not all doctors will agree on this and there have been no conclusive studies done to prove one way or the other.

Treatment for DDD can be somewhat complicated. Most doctors will start you on physical therapy and pain medications to see if some of the pain is alleviated. Others might try steroid injects at the points on the discs that are messed up to try to directly alleviate the pain.

If these methods do not work, your doctor might recommend surgery. They can perform a spinal fusion, place rods into your spinal column, and a few other alternative surgery methods. Surgery is entirely up to you and you should not feel pressured by your doctor to have surgery unless your ailment has become life-threatening.

Acupuncture, herbs, pool therapy, messages; all of these are other methods to look into and see if they’re right for you. Check with you insurance and see if they cover any of these alternative methods. Some insurances will pay for them if you have a doctor state that he or she believes you could really benefit from such methods.

Review every option available to you with your doctor. Talk to your family about these options and see what best fit your lifestyle. Also, making simple lifestyle changes can make a world of difference in your pain and how you handle it’.

My recent MRI results showed that I have bilateral sacroiliac arthritis and multi level degenerative arthritis to my lumber spine ( in other words DDD). I have also got some fluid retention in my lumber joints so the first thing they are doing is some injections into my sacroiliac joints.

I was seen first by a hip consultant as I was suffering from hip pain and unable to lie on either hip which was diagnosed as bursitis but with back problems you can get referred pain so it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose.

There are new techniques around now for DDD called IDD Therapy which is I have written about before here. I am thinking of trying the IDD therapy if the injections don’t work. Other treatments include pain killers, muscle relaxants, heat and rest, all of which I do on a daily basis.

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MY BACK PAIN TIPS, WHAT ARE YOURS?…

With so many people offering you advice on how to deal with back pain it’s difficult sometimes to know which advice to take. The internet is full to the brim of different types of exercise regime to help with, in particular, lower back pain but my advice would be to see your gp or physiotherapist before you start trying something you have seen on the internet.

There are however some useful tips if you are in extreme pain. Firstly, try lying on your back, on the floor, with your feet and lower legs over a chair. Support your head under a pillow. Try to relax as much as possible.

Consider doing some simple stretches to improve your overall flexibility and help relax those over tight muscles.

Try standing with your back against a closed door. Align your shoulders against the door and touch the door with the back of your head, your buttocks and your heels at the same time. If you can manage this then your body is in the correct alignment. Try to hold this posture when walking.

Start walking. Walking is one of the best exercises you can do to help to relieve back pain. A recent study found that a group of low back pain patients who did 3 hours brisk walking per week had considerably less pain and distress than a group who were given specific low back exercises. Walking helps exercise many of the muscles in the musco skeletal system, which in turn help provide support to the spine. I can honestly say that my endorphin’s always kick in if I manage to get out for a walk.

Always ensure you keep your back straight when lifting – no matter how light the object may be, and bent when bending down. Try to get someone else to sort out the bed quilt for you as double’s are quite difficult to sort out with a straight back and my back once went out when I was busy changing the cover after it had been washed.

If you drive pay attention to how you get in and out of the car. Sit down facing the door and swing both legs into the car together. Getting out is the reverse. It may look cumbersome but many a bad back is triggered by getting in or out of the car the wrong way. Ensure if you are driving any distance that you take regular breaks and have a walk around.

 

Finally for me I find heat, heat and more heat but I know there is an argument for both heat and ice especially during a hot spell like we have experienced over the last few weeks. Have you got any back pain tips to share with my readers?

 

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FRUSTRATED AND IN PAIN…

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In one of my posts last week I had written about the programme I had seen called ‘Hospital’ on BBC 2 which had shown how operations were being cancelled due to the backlog of people filling up all the beds.

I did mention that after seeing that programme and my treatment was cancelled I would totally understand the reason for it as I felt so sorry for all the staff trying to make ends meet. I was due for some facet joint injections last Thursday, but as we were about to leave to go to the hospital my mobile phone went and it was the Hospital saying that the theatre had been double booked and so my injection was cancelled and the next appointment they could offer was two weeks away. Of course I just accepted that this could happen and just hope by the time my appointment comes up next week there is not another mix up.

Meanwhile as well as my lumber pain I have been suffering with a lot of pins and needles and pain in my right hand and up to my elbow. I immediately felt it was coming from my neck and was probably a knock on effect from my lumber being so bad but all my pain is left sided and this was my right hand.

It went worse so I decided to go and see my GP about it. She informed me that it was definitely not coming from my neck (phew) but was a trapped nerve in my elbow. It’s called an ‘Ulna Nerve Entrapment’, which she said is quite common and can be treated with anti-inflammatory cream three times a day and she booked to see me again in three weeks time unless it goes, in which case I will cancel the appointment.

This is the first time that I have truly felt what I could only call ‘frustrated’ with all my pain as I have always found solace in my writing and blogging but now find it very painful to even do that. I guess all I can hope is that it will settle sooner rather than later and that by this time next week I will be in a lot less pain not only in my lumber spine but also in my elbow and hand.