Patient Comments: Degenerative Disc Disease & Sciatica - Effective Treatments

Question:

What treatments have been effective for your degenerative disc disease or sciatica? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: joann, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 29

I had severe neck pain due to degenerative disc disease. Tried physical therapy, pain medicines, muscle relaxers and nothing touched the pain. A friend recommended acupuncture and it worked! That was a number of years ago. Now if I notice any neck pain, I have acupuncture done and it always solves the problem.

Comment from: Karen Jayne, 19-24 Female (Caregiver) Published: October 26

I am looking after a young girl (23) who has been diagnosed with AS (ankylosing spondylitis). Her lower spine is already fusing together and she now has a curvature on the upper spine L2 and L3. She is now receiving infusions every 6 weeks of Remicade and she has been put on every kind of pain killer, sleeping pills, anti-depression pills, etc. She is also on 120 mg of Cymbalta. Nothing has taken the pain away or made it even slightly better for her to be able to work. They seem to have just given up and told her to claim disability. At her age, depression is a big issue as she has pretty much been told she is not going to have a good life. I have been on Kadian for 18 years now for fibromyalgia and would not be able to function. I wonder if this medication would be able to help her for pain control at all. The doctor has just taken her off trazodone and Tramacet and has replaced it with Lyrica. Beats me!

Comment from: paul, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: October 06

Sciatica for me turned out to be an easy fix. I had a severe case for a while, tried all kind of medications, and relief was very temporary. I found a stretching exercise that did the job; takes a couple of days but it worked. Now whenever I start to feel any pain I just repeat the exercise. Lie on your back, and whatever side the problem is on bring that knee with leg bent till its pointing at the ceiling. Then fold it over your body pulling down on it with the opposite hand stretching the nerve. Work it as much as you can stand, about a minute, then relax your leg and foot back to the floor. Then bend your leg to your chest and back to the floor 10 times. Repeat this twice a day, it really works.

Comment from: Ladywriter1968, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 13

When I was in my early 30s my back went, was in agony for months on end. I was told I have degenerative disc disease of the spine, being 2nd disk from bottom, and nerve pinched causing sciatica pain down my leg, pins and needs in my foot. My foot would throb along with extreme back pain, my dad suffered the same thing before I did. I found swimming and exercise helped my pain, and walking, yoga as well, and weight loss back then. Since then I have had twinges now and then, but recently, which is like 15 years later, my back pain has returned very quickly with the same pain as years before but on my opposite side now. I have gained the weight back over the years and it’s harder to lose now. Carrying extra weight around does not help and puts strain on the lower spine, by losing weight is not that easy either and keeping it off. It’s worse when I am in bed early morning the pain. For me when I walk it eases off. Life sure is cruel, isn’t it, for us suffering. I try to live a normal life as I don’t want to let it beat me. But it does take willpower, and I am not on any pain killers as the ones I had before upset my tummy.

Comment from: Miss bee, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 18

I have been living with degenerative disc disease (DDD) pain for 15 years. Only in the last year have I been diagnosed. I spent many years seeking treatment, physical therapy and pain relief, nothing has helped very much. I can no longer work because I cannot stand or sit for long periods and bending worsens my pain. I just try and manage the condition with heat, ice packs, stretching and accepting my limitations. It has been very difficult, but I rarely take medication anymore.

Comment from: Flipperfish, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 27

I have sciatica and miserable lower back pain. IVC (inferior vena cava) filter strut became calcified into lumbar body, L2. In removing it I lost 1/4 off my height. The pain worsened after removal. I tried hot to cold compress, stretching, rolling and chiropractic treatment. I dread more surgery so I am trying all I can.

Comment from: BizRN, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 19

I’m taking hydrocodone for real pain from multiple sclerosis and degenerative disc disease.

Comment from: shellybell, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 16

I was 24 and sneezed before taking my 2 year old fishing for the first time. I felt a pop in my back. I had ruptured a disc! Since that day in 1992, I've had several surgeries, I've been diagnosed with severe arthritis of the spine, degenerative disc disease (haven't we all), several herniated discs, a new rupture (upper lumbar), and every diagnosis that comes with it under the sun, you know, narrowing of the canals and that sort of thing. I've been to several doctors and hospitals in hopes of something new over the years, but here I sit on disability, and in chronic pain. Well, I'm 49 now, and it's really getting old. I want to bounce my grandchildren. I don't want to live in a chair. I don't want to live in pain! Every time I turn sideways my middle back pops, and I get shooting pains down my legs. My back feels weak and unstable. I know I can probable do a little more, but I'm afraid, I feel so weak. My courage comes in waves. I get inspired, I go out determined to change things, and then I'm in agony! It doesn't matter how little I do, I pay for it for three days! The hip pain (my hips are fine, it's the nerves that run along the hips) is probably the worst. I sleep on my sides (can't really sleep on my back due to scar tissue from my first surgery) and flip flop all night. I should tell all of my fellow back pain sufferers that I bought a new gel pad mattress, 5 inches thick and it is amazing! It is the nicest thing I've done for myself in years. Lyrica definitely helps with the pain, but I've gained 30 pounds. I was a size 7 last year, and the extra weight is horrible for my back, besides the fact that I can't fit into any of my clothes. Enough whining for today. Thanks for listening.

QUESTION

Nearly everyone has low back pain at some time during their life. See Answer
Comment from: Poppa Mark, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: March 05

I have lumbar radiculopathy, chronic. I hurt my back from years of lifting in the construction field. My doctors have known this for 5 years now. They have given me gabapentin 600 mg, and Vicoprofen 7.5 and they have not even touched my lower back or as they (doctors) say, eased the pain. The pain is always there. It is so bad now that my doctors have gotten me a paraplegic wheel chair. It cost 28,000 dollars. It’s nice of course and helps me be mobile. My pain is absolutely terrible. I go for my therapy on the 19th of March 2015. I think that it's not going to work for me. My back is too far gone.

Comment from: Tamerbamer, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 11

I have low back pain. Steroid nerve block injections and pain medicine have worked for me. If you can get into a pain specialist they can help a lot. If they can"t get your pain under control then you may have to have surgery. I love my pain specialist. They have given me my life back.

Comment from: raven, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 28

The pain can be pretty bad, I have had episodes where it was 10 days before I could even walk to the mailbox. I avoid lifting, carry only small loads, let the housework go, rest and take the medications. I am avoiding surgery as so many end up in worse shape. After spending the last two days on a morphine drip, I’m going to try nerve blockers and physical therapy, perhaps inversion table. I just try to avoid anything that aggravates the condition and be brave; this isn't easy.

Comment from: toyoungforthis, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: October 15

Hi there, I am 21 years old. I work as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home so my back goes through a lot. I have been having sciatic pain for over the last month. I went to the doctor (different one each time) three times during this time span. First time was told that is was the piriformis muscle tensed/knotted up on my sciatic nerve. The second time, I was told that my ankle was sprained. The third time the doctor told me the same as the first, but gave me flexeril and naproxen. After taking these for about two weeks along with walking and some stretches they gave me it felt better towards the end of last week. Unfortunately I worked Saturday and Sunday. The pain came back, worse than it was before but just a little different. On average Saturday and Sunday night I got between 5-6 hours of sleep, Monday night I got 2 hours. Monday evening I knew I couldn't take another night of all of it so I went to emergency room. Where they took an X-ray and noticed some degeneration on my L5 S1 disc, told me it was mild degenerative disc disease. It feels like I'm way too young for this. I've never had any back accidents, the only problem I had with it is mild scoliosis. This has me really worried about my future in nursing, as well as quality of life.

Comment from: Joel, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: December 02

I was in awful pain from sciatica. After chiropractic visits, Vicodin by the handful, and the threat of surgery ("It very probably won't succeed."), I bought a cheap inversion table. I worked up to a complete inversion, doing 15 minutes in the morning and in the evening. It took about a week to get results. Now, the pain is gone. I'm back to normal. I bench pressed 275 pounds the other day (at 60), I ride my bike for miles, and I hike with my dogs in the hills. My chiropractor, who initially advised me against inversion, bought an inversion table for his own use after I told him my experience!

Comment from: Becky, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 02

I have degenerative disc disease. My pain is controlled by two things: an inversion board and yoga back stretches. My doctor recommended this. Both of these things have really helped with pain management!

Comment from: 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 26

I’ve had DDD now for a few years plus many other problems. My treatment so far has been everything from, chiropractic, massage, exercise, pain meds, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory meds, Lidocaine shots, medical branch blocks, acupuncture, and radiofrequency rhizotomy. I have found that basically the only thing that helps temporarily is Lidocaine shots. Radiofrequency rhizotomy surgery was one of the biggest mistakes in my life. I had very extremely painful rare side effects. Do not ever get this surgery b/c u may be unable to move for 4 months and in more pain then ever.

Comment from: stephjanedavis, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 26

I am a 38 year old female who has just been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease thoracic spine. I am being told that it is probably the result of being on steroids (Prednisone) for over 22 years. The steroids have been and are still being used to treat my severe chronic urticaria (hives) which close my throat up and cause me to have a lot of trouble breathing. The steroids help suppress my immune system which is what I am being told is the cause of my hives. My immune system is "upset" by something and starts attacking itself. I was told about 10 years ago that by the age of 40, with all the steroids that I have taken, I would either have hip replacements or knee replacements or both. This is a very painful disease and do not know what the next steps are as of yet. I am being told that medicines, therapy and possibly braces will be used to treat me at this point.

SLIDESHOW

Sciatica Symptoms, Causes, Treatments See Slideshow
Comment from: HARJIT, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: October 06

It started with pain on my left toe, as I am regular to gym. Once while bending in the gym I got pain on my lower back, but then I took rest for a few days and again I started gym after 2 days. I again had pain, even then I thought it just might be back pain so I did not take it seriously. But by the time I thought this must be something else after doing my MRI, I came to know about early degenerative disc disease at l4; 5 with small disc protrusion in right foraminal location. Doctor gave me antibiotics for 2 months and the pain was relived in a manner that I can walk, but it was not up to my normal position that I can work regularly. By the time I started doing stretching, it is not suiting my body as I am getting pains; it’s almost 4 months now and I am not getting any results.

Comment from: Debbie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 09

Shots used to work and now I"m in pain all the time and it"s getting worse.

Comment from: foxy falla-greaves, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: May 07

I have always been told for 15 year now I have sciatica. Tens year ago it was made worse when I had my second child. Since then the bouts have got worse and lasting long to where I have had this bout for 3 months and 3 weeks. I was in hospital last week and I was told that my symptoms would never go away. I am on a whole list of painkillers anti-inflammatories and tablets to stop the spasming. Miss bee, I would love to exchange more of our stories and find out what and how you have adapted to fit round it.

Comment from: Chaz, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 05

I am 39 years old and think my life is over already. I have DDD in my lower lumbar region. It hurts so much. I went to a chiropractor for some time, but now the pain is back again. I don’t know what to do. I’m taking painkillers, but they only work sometimes. The rest of the days I suffer. I can now walk only for 10 minutes or so and then have to lie down. My 6-year-old son asked me the other day if he could have a sister. Could I ever be pregnant again and bear the weight of my baby? Will it ever happen? Maybe I’m a bit emotional now. I don't want to give up, but I don’t know what to do. Are there any other ways to get rid of this pain and get my life back to normal?

Comment from: mrbird, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 25

I am 59 years old and in the last five months have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. The pain has been horrendous. It has affected both of my hips, buttocks, and legs all the way to my feet. Since my job is to hike fourth graders in the mountains, I was desperate to find some help. My doctor had me on steroids orally and as soon as I would take them, within a few hours, the pain would go away because the swelling would go down. Because of this, she recommended epidural injections in the spine at the area where the inflammation is occurring. I was hesitant, but last week, I went in for the shots, and it has been a godsend. The doctor uses a portable X-ray machine over the area where he is going to inject the steroids. (They gave me slight anesthesia as needed, and even though it was a little painful, the results have been tremendous.) I can move, walk, get out of bed, whatever. I still have to take it a little easy, but I have my life back. Also, I have been going to physical therapy for strengthening exercises. That has helped tremendously as well. You must get your back muscles strong as well as learn how not to bend, etc....this is definitely worth doing. The epidermals do not always help everyone, but for the most part, I have heard very good success stories. The medication also helps to break up the proteins in the inflamed area, which allows more movement for strengthening.

Comment from: Einjk, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 11

I was just told by my doctor that I have degenerative disc disease (DDD). I am in terrible pain, from my lower back to my hips, and down both legs. I can hardly walk, and standing is a chore, as it can only be done for short periods of time. I also have pain in my groin area. I can't believe the amount of pain involved with this. I can no longer do anything but sit, or lie down for short periods of time. I have major spasms that cause me to scream in pain. I have always managed pain quite well, as I also have other diseases that come with their fair share of pain. This, however, has dropped me to my knees. Once I am in bed, getting out of bed is a real chore too. I spend most of my time sleeping in my recliner. I am a 57-year-old woman. From what I have seen so far in the last two months, it looks as if most of my life is over, or any good parts anyway.

Published: February 11

I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease (DDD) three years ago. I have been prescribed all kinds of pain medications, and I have gone to chiropractors. I also have had the shots in my spine, and nothing has seemed to help. They help for a while but only for a short while. I have been unable to find work. I have been unemployed for two years. i have been advised by my doctor not to lift more than 10 pounds, and most employers won't hire unless you are able to lift 50 pounds.

Comment from: Peg, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 02

I am experiencing severe pain in my left leg. I was told six years ago that I have severe DDD, stenosis, and obvious sciatica. I was doing alright until yesterday. The exercise class I am in was very difficult even though it is for senior citizens. I'm suffering for trying to keep up. My left leg has been giving out on me since yesterday. I almost went back to the class today, but I decided I better take it easy.

IMAGES

Degenerative Disc Disease & Sciatica See a medical illustration of the sciatica plus our entire medical gallery of human anatomy and physiology See Images
Comment from: livingdaily, 55-64 Female Published: December 02

I have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease (DDD). It has been 16 years since my first surgery (C5-6), and the graft fractured after five years. The second C5-6 surgery replaced the graft with a graft plug and titanium plate. The constant nerve pain is a daily adventure. I get violent migraines if my neck decides it didn’t like bending or picking up something. I had two lumbar surgeries as well. I am disabled and hate the fact my life changed, and no one really understands how it controls your life. I understand how horrible it is to live with pain. You just have to deal and try to be happy as best you can.

Comment from: ccsbabycakes, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 28

I am a 40 year old who has had degenerative disc disease and sciatica pain since 1997 resulting from an injury I suffered being a certified nursing assistant.I have tried heat, cold, massage, physical therapy, going to the gym, pain pills, tens unit, water therapy, you name it I tried it nothing has helped me. Then one night my husband just happened to grab my feet and gently pull them towards him, instant relief no pain the first time in 10 years I was pain free. So my advice on what to try would be some sort of traction device.

Comment from: Kadubies, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 30

At present, I am being treated with Baclofen for my sciatica.

Comment from: emmah, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 15

I have had the degenerative disc disease for the last 4 years and my doctor is also saying he cannot do surgery on me until I cannot get out of bed, but he advised me to go for a walk everyday for an hour, use heat pads, go for therapy after every 3 months, medications and I also inject myself when in severe pain. I also lost 41 kgs that helps a lot. Friends just follow what your doctor is advising you, most operations will not help I have had 4 operations already in 10years, but I am still suffering.

Comment from: Alicein wonderland, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: October 06

I am 23 and was recently diagnosed with DDD. I've tried stretches and pain pills and even weird diets, but can't find any relief. I worry about the future and the idea that my doctors will just make me wait it out until they deem me old enough to preform surgery on.

Comment from: flowergirl914, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 06

I had bulging discs had the surgery, sent home the next day with pain medications. I went to the fridge and fell flat on my back; I was not used to taking pain medication. I had to get back to work I had just bought my home at the age of 45. Little did I know I was to become disabled for life. I could not work, couldn’t get out of bed. Nothing has worked and now I have another herniated disc and the doctor asked if I fell down the stairs. I fracture very easily this is the 3rd herniated disc. I don’t know how I got them. It has kept me home, I am afraid of crowds or just loosing my balance. There seems to be no hope. Plus, 2 years ago I had to have a plate for my cervical spine. Nobody has answers for me. It is just constant pain.

Comment from: hipgranny, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 06

In January 2008 I had a degenerative disc removed between C5/C6. A week after my surgery my heart stopped and I fell to the floor and had to have a pacemaker put in and I am now facing what the neurologist thinks is more pinched nerves and complications with the first surgery. I have been on hydrocodone and hydromorphine recently went to a pain specialist and he put me on fentanyl 50mcg patches with hydrocodone as backup drug. I was doing pretty well. Pain down to 5-6. On Friday I put my arm back to put a sneaker on and yikes the pain to my right hip was and has been the most horrific pain. I cannot walk. I will try to get to doctor tomorrow but wonder if my cervical discs caused a problem with the hip. Also my hands are numb. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Comment from: r.m.22, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: October 06

I was diagnosed with DDD a year ago and I am now 22 years old. The doctors will not do anything other than pain medication and physical therapy. I have gone for 3 steroid epidural injections which did not help only cause severe pain in my right leg. I am going to be trying prolotherapy in about a month. But other than that the doctors want to see how fast it is occurring and for anything major I would need to wait years because of my age.

Comment from: Microbiologist , 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: September 25

I had sciatica due to a herniated disk between L4 and L5 for three painful years. No therapy seemed to work for me. I tried the Nucleoplasty for the disk decompression. It is a simple procedure with the use of a sterile needle and local anesthesia. I feel like new again. No pain at all; I can walk, and even run again.

Comment from: 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: September 25

I found out I had DDD 4 yrs ago at the age of 20. Not a single doctor will help me because of my age. The most they'll do is give me pain drugs and send me through physical therapy. Nothing has helped. They say the cant do more for another 10yrs or until it is so bad that I can’t walk.

Comment from: sweetnascarfan69, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 18

I am a 39 year old female patient with degenerative bone disease. I was first diagnosed when I was 24 years old. To date I have had 3 spine surgeries. Two (2) C-Spine and One (1) L-Spine. Currently waiting to have surgery again on my neck. This time it is crushing my nerves and causing severe pain in my left arm. It feels as if I am being electrocuted. This is a very painful condition.

Comment from: Snarkie, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: October 15

It has just been pain management using Vicodin, Percocet and muscle-relaxants. I didn't know there was anything that could be done.

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