Lumbar degenerative disc disease is such a very common spinal diagnosis that is used to explain a multitude of painful lower back and sciatic nerve complaints.
However, it is clear from research and statistics that LDDD is not a disease at all and is rarely to blame for any pain or related symptoms in the lower back or any other area of the spine.
This resource section will provide a general overview of disc
desiccation in the low back and will also provide additional research
materials for patients to review and consider before seeking treatment.
Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Causes
Life causes degenerative disc disease in the lower back. There is no better explanation for it.
The daily activities we all do and the normal spinal aging processes cause our lumbar discs to wear out, lose height, lose circumference and lose diameter faster than in any other spinal region.
We will all demonstrate lumbar DDD by the time we are in our 30s and many of us will have it in our 20s. I was diagnosed with LDDD at the age of 16.
Genetics and lifestyle will certainly contribute to how much degenerative change occurs and how fast. However, it is crucial to remember that these changes are normal and expected and are not inherently painful or problematic at all.
It is very rare for a person to suffer such extensive
deterioration of the lumbar discs as to cause pain or neurological
expressions, but it is possible, given extenuating circumstances.
Lumbar DDD topics
Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Process
When the spinal discs age, they dry out and lose their ability to hold moisture. This causes them to shrink and makes them more prone to bulging and rupture. This process is not painful and most herniations which occur due to degenerative changes are completely asymptomatic.
Some herniations might be mildly to moderately painful for a short time frame, but even this is rare when compared to herniations enacted by trauma.
LDDD helps facilitate other spinal aging conditions, such as osteoarthritis. Mild to moderate arthritic change in the spinal column is also typical and expected and is not usually the source of any significant symptoms.
Occasionally, bone spur formation can occur in a particularly bad spot on the vertebrae, causing discomfort. Rarely, this condition might necessitate medical or even surgical treatment.
Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Recommendations
Of all the spinal conditions, DDD is perhaps one of the greatest causes of the diagnostic nocebo effect. When pronounced by a doctor, the actual words degenerative disc disease sound so threatening and harmful. Most patients report horrific fear and anxiety when diagnosed with this condition.
My suggestion is to simply stop using this term altogether to describe normal spinal aging and reserve it for the extremely low incidence of extreme and problematic spinal degeneration. Calling the condition a disease in 99% of cases is barely short of criminal.
When I was told I had DDD, I felt as if my life was over. 16 years old and my chiropractor seemed to be pronouncing a death sentence on me. That is honestly the way I felt. This nocebo effect certainly set the perfect circumstances for my 18 year epic battle with ischemic back pain.
Thanks doc, I really appreciate it.
Now, I understand the reality and completely universal nature of this normal structural occurrence. The fact that I have DDD is now of no concern to me. You have it too. We all do, even that chiropractor.
If you have been diagnosed with DDD as the exclusive cause of your chronic sciatica or lower back pain, you owe it to yourself to really research the condition. You will surely find that the diagnosis is likely to be inaccurate, since the condition is rarely to blame for severe or ongoing pain of any type.
I always recommend knowledge therapy, in these cases, as an ideal means of understanding what is causing your pain, and more importantly, what is not causing it.
Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease to Herniated Disc
10/23/08 Revised 8/11/13
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