Patient Comments: Degenerative Disc Disease & Sciatica - Symptoms


What were the symptoms and signs of your degenerative disc disease and sciatica? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Ouchmy back, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: June 12

I'm 43 and was just diagnosed with sciatica. I woke up in acute debilitating pain down my thigh and knee. It's in L5/S1. I found Mackenzie movements or the cobra position helped. Wedge your pillows in an angle and sleep in the cobra position on the stomach. Lie on the stomach through the day sometimes with a pillow under the pelvis or chest. I also used the TENS machine and had chiropractic therapy 2 times a week. Arnica pill and ice on the back helped. Never sit or bend from the waist. Traction positions all worked.

Comment from: Presley1, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 20

I have been suffering with back and left leg pain from degenerative disc disease for about a year now. I have seen 5 specialists, had two back injections, been through two months of chiropractic treatment, and now on physical therapy. Nothing helps and I am going to see a physiatrist next. I can't stand for more than a few minutes without pain or walk long distances. It has affected every aspect of my life, I can't even go to the grocery store because I can't walk around the store that long. At this point I can't work.

Comment from: sah90, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: January 12

I am 27 years old and my back pain started when I was putting my socks on and I was getting pain in my legs to the point my partner had to put my socks on. After several attempts of contacting my doctor they finally got me in for an MRI which said I have a slipped disc. They have now sent me for another MRI but my first MRI said my lower disc, L3 I believe it is called, had slipped. The main pain is now in my right leg and side so I can’t walk far anymore and it is really affecting my life. I am in so much pain I am struggling to deal with it and carry on as normal. I have continued go to work and sit there in pain. I try to continue my every day activities as normal but I need help in understanding what is wrong with me. No one is explaining anything and I feel at a loss at the moment. I know the slipped disc may be sitting on the sciatic nerve and that’s why I am having the pain but this again has not been explained to me.

Comment from: Rebecca, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 30

I am a 42 year old woman who was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease 8 years ago. All my discs are bulging and hitting nerves. I was suffering from terrible migraines a few years back so I went for another MRI on my neck this time. Unfortunately it turns out the discs in my neck are very bad, hitting nerves and this is the cause of the headaches which can be excruciating. The back doctors (I have seen three in the past 8 years) refuse to operate saying I would have a 75 percent chance of paralysis. I was told to get used to taking painkillers for the rest of my life. Somedays are ok but others are awful. I can no longer work so I'm on Disability Support Program. I don't know what I have done to deserve this. I do get jealous of friends and family who can live normal pain free lives.

Comment from: pooja, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 15

I got my D and C one month back. But I was normal after 1 hour and was discharged immediately. The doctor gave me painkiller and antibiotics for 5 days. After 5 days I am feeling lots of tiredness and pain in my whole body. I feel pain several times in my left thigh inside. I am not able to do my day to day work. I feel exhausted very soon, specifically if I have to do physical work.

Comment from: Bridey, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: July 17

My diagnosis was lumber stenosis and spondylitis of the upper spine. I have lots of neck tension headaches and less movement in my neck.

Comment from: Sarah4108, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: June 28

Symptoms and signs of degenerative disc disease are very similar to a herniated disc. That was the problem with me. A train hit passenger's side (by side) and I broke a wing of a lower vertebra. I went from 1 herniated disc to 3 out of rehabilitation and now I'm up to 4 in my back and one in the middle of my neck. A couple times a year I need MRIs to see if the discs aren't going into my spinal cord. I have ongoing pain from arthritis in many areas from fractured ribs, 3 in pelvis, and a fractured lower vertebra wing. Degenerative disc disease can be the hardest thing to find or even think of if your body gets hurt because it's all connected. If anyone feels ongoing discomfort in their back, please see a doctor. We're only given one spinal cord and that's the worst time to mistake a herniated/slipped disc for degenerative disc disease. I changed doctors and he found I had slipped-herniated discs instead of just degenerative disc disease. So please, keep up with MRIs and if they say one is bulging out, ask if you or they can fix it before surgery time where you have to risk everything.

Comment from: irishlace, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: February 02

I was diagnosed with cervical degenerative disc disease at age 40. Now I have spinal stenosis in the neck along with bone spurs. I am afraid to have surgery at my age. Burning pain in the back of my neck wakes me in the middle of the night. I am about to see a pain management doctor. I hope I can get relief with these doctors.


Nearly everyone has low back pain at some time during their life. See Answer
Comment from: Rayzor, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: February 02

I had an accident at work two year ago, I damaged my lower back. The pain was unbearable to say the least. I couldn't bend, I couldn't walk far, pain down my right buttocks and leg, into the foot. I had physiotherapy, traction, neither of which worked. After an MRI scan it was revealed I had a bulging disc, I was offered by the spinal surgeon, do nothing and live with it, injections, or surgery. I opted for the injections, they didn't work, I had more injections, and they didn't work. I had surgery (discectomy) a year and a half back, I've since had some more injections to burn the nerves away. It is now 2 years since my accident. My sciatica is back, my back pain is just as bad as before. I also now suffer from spasms in my lower back. I've tried regular exercise, swimming, walking, stretches, but nothing has eased the pain at all. I've gone from being a very fit and healthy man, to a very sorry looking soul, whose mental health is weakening by the day. I'm keeping my chin up and ask myself each day, what on earth have I done to deserve this life.

Comment from: Terri B, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 25

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease (DDD). Three surgeries later, including a L4/L5 spinal fusion (5 years ago), my life has markedly improved. Up until 2 months ago, I would have said I'm doing the best I've done in 10 years! Two months ago, I developed excruciating pain (similar to a severe charley horse) in my right and left thighs alternating. It would start high at the groin level and stop at my knees. Pain level was 8-10. I was put back on antispasmodic anti-inflammatory medications and was cautioned to watch for cauda equina (again). I'm now having an MRI of my L3/L4 vertebra later today.

Comment from: cookieMONSTER7, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: July 15

I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease (DDD) this year, and also rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I have dealt with back pain most of my life and cannot take NSAIDS anymore. I have pain all the time, a 6 and other days an 8. I ache all over my body, especially my back. Thoracic and lumbar have DDD. I have a cane, walker and crutches that I use occasionally. My back pain worsened after my last child. I've been to chiropractors, physical therapy, inversion table, acupuncture, epidural shots and counseling but I still feel depressed and am in pain. I cannot hold a job due to limited bending, walking, sitting and working with my hands. I am only 43 and feel like my body is falling apart.

Comment from: notinpain, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: February 04

I had a bulging disc inwards; severe pain constantly. I did it all trying to ease the pain; therapy, shots, and of course the pain medications. Little worked. One day I got up from watching a football game and I fell face forward. I had no feeling in my lower extremities from the belly button down. I didn't know what was wrong. I was given 3 choices: 1 live with it, 2 medicate it, or 3 surgery. Well, after some thought of being in a wheelchair the rest of my life and not able to play with my sons, I opted for surgery. After 12 hours I was in a room recovering. Five days later I was walking on my own with no assistance. It was the best choice I ever made.

Comment from: rpage, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 04

I have degenerative disc disease in my back, in the L5 S1 area. I don't have back pain but my muscles in my legs hurt. The pain is like a cramp starting to happen and at times I do cramp.

Comment from: Sore Back, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: March 25

At this moment I have got a painful left leg from sciatica and my lower L4, L5 disc has mild degeneration and I am on medication to help, but it's only helps a bit. I have been going to the physiotherapist 2 days a week to work on my muscles and get a little strength my back a bit. Plus, I am in the heat pool 2 Days a week which calms the pain as you are mostly in a tube with your whole body resting and not touching the ground. I am waiting to see the back specialist to check on what we should do to fix the pain but I am staying strong. That I am not working is also sad as it has been over 2 months already. Well I hope to get more good news soon.

Comment from: toyoungforthis, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 28

Two years ago I started having pain in my lower back because of degenerative disc disease... all the time. It has not gone away at any one time but continuously gotten worse. I was told by my neurologist to have surgery or live with the pain… kind of blunt. I got a second opinion that was basically the same just with a different type of surgery, and the second opinion sounded much better and less invasive. I have been taking Norco 10/325 for the past 6 months and they do not take the pain away, enough to make all this tolerable. In a little over 2 months I am having L5-S1 fused from the front instead of rods in from the back. I am told it is less invasive. I hope this works because I have had enough and just want to get back to my old life. I know that there are a lot of people out there that are a lot worse off than I am, and I hope that you get relief soon.

Comment from: YellowRose50, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 20

I woke up one morning 6 months ago unable to stand. Doctors have treated me for muscle spasms and nerve damage. I’m still unable to stand and walk for more than 1 hour without having to get off my leg. I have pain in the right leg only, pain and burning in the calf area outer right side, pain goes from calf to ankle and up to hip. It is painful to sit, get up from sitting, can’t reach, bend or turn head to left, without pain going straight down my leg. Getting in and out of the car is a chore, personal hygiene and dressing is a chore as well. I still have not found the cause and still taking pain medications.


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Comment from: Yesguy, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: May 16

This sciatica is making me depressed. I have DDD in L5 S1 and have had this for at least 10 years and it is progressively getting worse. I used to play hockey and I still golf however that is at risk now that this sciatica is making my foot numb. I have gone to several Chiro, and physio however I cannot find one that relieves. I also want something to make this go away and allow me to continue my day to day activities and allow me to golf.

Comment from: Kim1522, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: May 14

I have had degenerative disc disease for about ten years now. I got it when I was 22, and it took 7 years to get it diagnosed properly. Because of my age they were not looking for this. I have read some of the other posts and one lady said she thinks her life is over. The thing with degenerative disc disease is yes you will have pain but it does lessen with time. Once the fluid had drained from you discs the nerve pain stops and you will just have muscle pain. Yoga is the best thing you can do! I do relaxation yoga and I will have periods of time with no pain after this. It lengthens your spine and stretches your muscles. Try it! When my pain first started I had a nine month old baby and it was horrible, but you learn what makes it worse and what makes it better. Join a gym with a great hot tub and yoga classes. Water physical therapy is great too.

Comment from: Ole66, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 09

I had a rupture disk that sprang out sideways unto my sciatic nerve. I could not do anything but lay flat on the bed. Sitting down was impossible. Standing for a number of minutes was too painful, but siting sent me through the roof. I had part of the disk removed, the part that had broken onto my sciatica. However, it was the most painful surgery I have had in my life!! Today, I am still struggling with my sciatic nerve, for there was nerve damage and the pain is back.

Comment from: syb, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 20

I have pain in the area of the 4 lumbar disc problems with the femoral nerve and sciatic nerve which the both have the 4 lumbar disc and their root to the spinal cord. The femoral nerve which controlled the bending of the knee in the thigh area made it difficult to walk up and down stairs I used my good leg to do this at work. I also had paralysis in my left leg and I have a rash on the right side right near the 4 lumbar discs. I have no reflex which the 4 lumbar disc nerve has it was absent when tested on both legs I am afraid of permanent damage to my spine in this area I have had two episodes to date.

Comment from: gramma, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 01

I have had degenerative disc disease since 2007. My mobility is affected requiring the use of a cane. I experience burning pain at times in the lower back which shoots down the buttocks and into knee area mostly on the right side. When I walk, the pain intensifies and feels like a band which tightens the back further hindering mobility. With each MRI there is a significant change. I am in pain daily. I need help with chores I use to be able to do myself. Sometimes it hurts too much to drive.

Comment from: Prosperity68, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

I am 68 just had an x-ray and found out why my sciatic nerve is bothering me; after 2 years of no pain now it"s back. I am trying laser treatment which is very helpful plus a spine stretch. Hope everyone gets some relief whichever way things go but get a second opinion.

Comment from: WhatisDDDnarrowcanal, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 18

I am a chronic pancreatitis patient who had rheumatoid arthritis several years before; the medication for RA caused chronic pancreatitis. My doctor passed away so now the new one thinks I was misdiagnosed and sent me for more testing, which showed DDD (degenerative disc disease) with mild narrowing of spinal canal; then x-ray of cervical spine showed an old injury in which the neck healed in a twisted position. All other tests are negative for RA, so question is what all this means. They are sending me back to pain specialist who has been treating my CP (chronic pain) conservatively (meaning not enough to provide relief). I have told him how much my back hurts but I thought it was from the excruciating pancreas pain, now I am afraid he will let me go as a patient because he only seems to be interested in sports injuries, and told me to get pancreas removed even though it would cause severe diabetes.

Comment from: roxie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 28

I am a 58-year-old woman who was a caregiver for 28 years. I developed DDD along with bone spurs up and down my spine. I also have a bulging disc in my neck and two in the lower spine, with spinal stenosis, a slight curvature of the spine, and nerve root damage. I can't sit for more than two hours without lying down to help with the pressure. I also can't walk or stand for more than 10 minutes at a time. Depression is getting to me, since I have always been strong. I have had the lidocaine injection with no effect, steroid shots in the back with no effect, and a shot in the lower spine at the disc site – which was very painful and provided no relief. I am also being treated for radiculopathy and neuropathy, and nothing is working. I’m scared that if an operation is suggested I will have no relief. I’ve been out of work for two months with the drugs and shots.


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Comment from: steve grier, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: April 12

I have had two lumbar fusion and one cervical fusion surgeries. In the past four years, I have peripheral neuropathy from the lumbar surgeries – the chronic pain is constant. I’ve tried everything – a pain management doctor, massage, yoga, etc. I have now been using a cannabis salve for the last three months, and this, along with a neurostimulator implant, has changed my life. With the salve, especially, I have no side effects at all. I am off all opioid meds and take an aspirin every few days. I know I will never be the same as before all of this – the nerve damage can’t be fixed and I must use a walker. So be it. I can now go to the gym, use a stationary bike, a treadmill, and lift light weights with no to very little pain. I buy my salve from a state medical marijuana dispensary. Without the salve I would not want to life the rest of my life with chronic pain.

Comment from: arc, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 08

I just got diagnosed with this. It is in all three areas of my spine. I go to physical therapy, but it hasn't helped me. I started physical therapy for my neck because both arms would drop like a lead balloon and to lift them up was excruciating. But a few weeks later, my left sciatica acted up. I have had a pinched sciatic nerve before, but this time, it crippled me. I couldn't stand straight, let alone walk. Now, my arms are acting up again and my sciatica is still painful. My whole entire back feels like a wall of concrete. My doctor tells me that surgery is not an option. I have had this for a long time and I have two young children. Most days, I have to grin and bear it. I dislike painkillers. So, I wonder which is worse – the pain, or the nausea and ill feeling from painkillers. This is my life, and some days, the pain is so horrible that taking painkillers seems like the lesser of two evils.

Comment from: MonieDee, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: December 19

I have just turned 22 years old and I have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease in my L3/L4 and L4/L5 discs. Also in the same doctor visit I found out that the cartilage in my hip is torn and I need surgery. Yoga has helped a lot with my back pain and sciatica.

Comment from: annie, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 28

I am a 66 year old female who after having an MRI was told I had a horrible back, osteoarthiritis, degenerative disk, spinal stenosis, and sciatica problem. I am having horrible muscle spasms in my lower back.

Comment from: kenneth, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: August 14

I have had lumbar degenerative disc disease now for 3 years. Physio therapy is great for this, but I can no longer do physical labor. It has been 3 years since physio and now it is back with a vengence. I went through hell to get disability. These people want you to almost be wheel chaired to get benefits. Thank God for the Ontario Human Rights Code (Canada). It affects my sciatic nerve and numbs my left leg and sometimes shoots into the groin (ouch). I have to constantly shift, stand and sit. I did hard labor all my life and now at 47 I'm done.

Comment from: Reba, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 09

Life does not have to end because of degenerative disc disease. I began with that diagnosis and after years and years of pain had back surgery for herniated discs. The pain continued. I now have a morphine pump implanted in my hip. I have a life again. Do not give up. Go to pain specialists until you find one that can help. I could not work on pain killers as I just wanted to go to sleep. However, the morphine pump drips the medication on the damaged nerve. The amount of morphine in my body is one one-hundredth of what it would be if I were to take it by mouth. Try it. There is also an electronic stimulator that can be implanted that is supposed to take care of the pain also. Look into these newer alternatives to conventional pain medications.

Comment from: dkarma9949, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 05

I was recently diagnosed by my neurosurgeon with bulging discs and bone spurs in my neck. I am to have surgery to correct this very soon. The pain is incredible in my neck, upper back, shoulder, bicep, down my arm and now going into my fingers and hand which is on my right side but is now going into the left shoulder and arm. I have never experienced pain as severe as this even the pain before my lumbar (fusion) surgery.

Comment from: yosher65, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: March 16

I had physical therapy for sciatica and it left, but I still can’t walk a long distance because I get a sharp pain in right hip joint. I sit down for 5 minutes and it goes away.

Comment from: Oreo, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 07

I've had degenerative disc disease for about 23 years. Most of the time I'd be fine, but if something made my back ‘go out,’ then I'd be in misery. Sometimes I'd be crooked sideways, couldn't straighten up or walk without pain shooting through me, and my left leg would feel numb in places. Would have to take off from work to rest. Don't know where I'd be without my chiropractor all these years! Had an MRI done a few years ago and found at least four bulging discs. My left knee was swollen for years and had an MRI done on it and found that I'd need a new knee. Finally decided to get the new knee, and that has done wonders for my back. I stand straighter on the left side and when I've had back pain, is 99% better! My back can ‘go out’ and just bother me, but not hurt like it used to. Of course, there are a few times when it gets sore and then I know I need to go see the chiropractor. Getting my new knee was like fixing the foundation of a house, since the left side was lower than the right, which was not helping the back problem. Those of you that haven't found any relief from past procedures should have your knees checked (and probably hips too), to see if they are worn down which could cause a lot of the pain. Of course, I still have to watch what I do and have had to check things off the ‘list’ that I can't do anymore, but at least for the most part I'm doing lots better dealing with the back!

Comment from: bghteyez, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 26

The condition with the sciatica is called Meralgia Paresthetica. I have had DDD for over ten years and recently have been having pain in my hip I went to the doctor and he said it was this due to my sciatic nerve being pinched in the hip area.