Lumbar degenerative disc disease diagnosis is one of the most problematic issues in the back pain industry. DDD in the lower back is a completely universal part of aging for every person on this planet. Blaming all but the most extreme cases of degenerative disc disease for causing any pain or related symptoms is not only bad medicine; it is also ridiculous, illogical and contrary to established research science.
This essay explores why DDD has become such a prevalent part of the lower back pain treatment sector. We will uncover the realities of disc desiccation and how the diagnosis may amount to little more than smoke and mirrors in many patients.
Lumbar DDD occurs due to the constant bending and flexing of the lower back region. The discs here endure much use and abuse; making them wear out far faster than discs in the thoracic spine, which does not have to bend nearly as much.
Intervertebral discs lose water content and their ability to retain moisture as they age, making them shrink and provide less cushioning in between the vertebral bones. Many people have almost no disc material left in affected levels by the time they have reached 40 and some have moderate disc degeneration by the age of 30. Some people are diagnosed far younger, sometimes while still in their teens. The rate and extent of disc degeneration is influenced by genetic factors, as well as lifestyle and activity considerations.
It must be noted that there is nothing inherently painful about disc desiccation, nor is the condition statistically linked to the incidence of back pain. However, DDD is a known contributor to intervertebral herniation, as well as a facilitator of the osteoarthritic processes.
It is possible for some people to endure horrific disc degeneration, in which the spinal bones actually begin grinding each other apart. This is very rare and does not describe 99% of diagnosed cases. Patients write to us all the time stating that their doctor told them that they have little disc material left, yet their diagnostic testing shows a completely normal spinal anatomy for their age. When we are talking about extreme degeneration, we mean the exception to the exception to the exception to the rule.
DDD is a frightening sounding diagnosis, which is one of my main problems with it within the back pain industry. The name is not accidental, but instead, is one of the best ways to deliver a powerful nocebo effect which will keep a patient in unnecessary and useless extended care for the long-term, simply for the sake of profit.
Statistics show that of all the patients in professional therapy for disc degeneration, the majority do not require treatment at all, nor will they benefit from the care, since it is not directed at the actual source of their symptoms.
I was diagnosed with lumbar degenerative disc disease at the age of 16 and was devastated by the sound of the condition. I completely understand the effects of this diagnosis and how it makes people believe their spines are injured and falling apart. I am here to tell you the truth of the matter.
DDD is normal. You have it. I have it. Your doctor has it. We all have it.
L3 through S1 should be degenerated to some degree by the age of 30 in most people. Do not fear disc degeneration. Learn about it. If you do some objective research, you will discover just how the diagnosis of DDD has been abused over the years as a scapegoat for lower back pain. Sure, in a very small number of instances, patients may demonstrate the types of extreme desiccation which are truly symptom-generators. However, being involved in the back and neck pain sectors for decades, and dealing with literally hundreds of thousands of patients in this time, I have seen only a handful of such cases.
Be very careful about pursuing extended or surgical care for any diagnosis of DDD. Instead, get a few other diagnostic options and you will probably see that disc deterioration is likely to be normal for your age and physical condition.