Degenerative Disc Disease L5 S1

I just got my xray back and it shows that i have degenerative disc disease at the lower l5 s1 which is where i had my back surgery last year in Aug. I am wondering if this is causing all my pain in my lower back. It is constant all the time everyday, can not sit for long periods of time, cant walk for long periods of time, cant do anything that i used to be able to do.

Is there any treatment for this besides taking muscle relaxers and pain meds with anti inflammitories. I am already on them and they are doing no good really.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

20 Replies

  • It's well worth while seeing a physio and getting shown how to do exercises appropriate to the damage you have. The right exercises can strengthen your spine muscles, which means you can hold your back in a better position to minimise the risks of protruding discs. Exercises can also help avoid nerves being pinched. Also get advice from the physio on what not to do, and how to carry even very light things without putting strain on your back.

  • Hi there,

    Like you I have been told among other things that I have "degenerative disc disease" and one specialist told me that "degenerative disc disease" it a catch all description that doctors use to say they have no idea what is wrong with you also from recent results that there are as many people with "degenerative disc disease" that have no pain/problems with their back all there life as there are people with "degenerative disc disease" who suffer with their back/neck/hips.

    for me my problem started with an accident whilst in the army (in 1976)which at the start I was told I had back strain and to take it easy for a couple of weeks but as time passed my back got worse and worse until around 3 years ago when trying to stand up and just walk a couple of yards was almost impossible even on a good day on a bad day I cannot even get myself out of bed in the end I had to go out and buy an electric bed that can sit me up as trying to just do that then walk/wobble to the toilet which is only 2 yards from my bed is hard to do and on a bad day I cannot even manage that but trying to prove to the SS that I have problems took me 3 years to get them to agree and to grant me PIP (new benefit in place of Disability living Allowance) even though I had been of work and getting incapacity benefit for the 10 years before I applied, I understand that they have to try and get the number of people who receive it down but it is annoying when you see all the people who have nothing wrong with them getting it and being told that even though you can not manage to get out of bed most days here in the Mansfield area which use to be a coal mining area and when they started to close the mines they put a huge number of them on incapacity benefit instead of unemployment benefit to keep the unemployment numbers down and even today the same people are still getting it and have not worked since.

    Good luck finding a method/medication that reduces your pain.

    Regards Poppy Ann.

  • Well done for getting PIP Poppy. I thought you had to have all limbs missing to qualify!

  • You are almost right but if all of your limbs do not work that well they may give you something if you keep at them for a few years it took me just over 3 years to get them to admit that yes I am disabled they will try anything to not award it to you and lots of the time they do not even bother to tell you they have decided you are not entitled to it they did that with me when I called and they then said they had decided I was not entitled to it due to my being out of the country to much over the last two years even though they had not bothered to ask me anything about when I was out of the country so I then had to prove I was here in the UK which is hard to do due to them not stamping your passport when you return to UK I was lucky as I kept the emails from when I booked my flights so could prove to them I did qualify but for some people who do not keep things like that from 2 years ago they could not prove they had been back here.

    Regards Poppy Ann.

  • Did you have an assessor come to your home Poppy?

  • Hi there,

    Yes I had a assessor come to my home in the end I had two of them come after the first one had been I never heard anything from them for 4 weeks so I called them to see what was going on and they then told me I had been turned down so I asked for a copy of the report the assessor had wrote when it came it was nothing like what had happened so I called them to point out the errors and I told them I could show them how the assessment had gone as it was all on my CCTV system then they said they will arrange a second interview but they twice sent me appointments for an assessment centre in Nottingham which I could not get to due to there location in the end they arranged a assessment in my home again and it was just after this that they phoned me just less than 2 weeks later saying I had been granted care at the standard level and mobility at the higher level which was a huge increase from zero to next to the highest, I tell everyone who gets turned down to start with that they have to make sure that they have all the evidence relative to your case it is no good just signing to say they can contact your doctor and he can report on you you have to send them a copy of your notes yourself along with a record of how your disability affects you I kept a diary for 2 years and listed how my various things affected me which showed how many days I could not get out of bed how many days I could just manage to get out of bed but not get dressed etc If you do not send them the evidence then they will not be bothered to try getting it themselves, they do not have to prove you are not disabled enough to receive it you have to prove you are.

    if you can try to make a recording of your interview that way you can see how you answered their questions compared to what they wrote down on my first assessment what they wrote down was nothing like how I had answered or how I was on the day when you answer a question answer it as if it was on one of your worse days if your disability alters day to day always speak about the worse it ever is.

    Regards Poppy Ann.

  • I find acupuncture helps with the Odin better than anything else and can be used long term without side effects. It s now my only treatment and I gave up all medications.

    Give it a try.

  • I can sympathise , firstly as already said Physio is your first port of call . Appropriate analgesic (pain meds) to get your pain under control maybe a wee double appoint at your surgery to see what works for you. Exercise despite being difficult does actually make a difference . The degeneration of a disc means a disc which ihas been damaged and over time with age makes it worse , some have chronic pain and some don't and yes it can be the cause of your pain. A lot of doctors tell patients this because they either don't have the correct knowledge about back issues and diagnose wrong and treatment inappropriate or diagnosis is correct and their not skilled enough to fix it or don't know the correct people to send you to. I would recommend a good massage therapist as well once your established because if you think about it when we have pain no matter where in the body we stiffen up and change our posture and this can set off pain in other areas . Hope this helps


  • Massage, reflexology, acupuncture - all viable methods of defragging the body. Any pain in the spine can transfer to other areas of the spine. If you've got lumbar issues your shoulders can tighten up, and before you know it you've got neck pain. I agree exercise is the way forward. Gently does it. I sat on a chair for years and all it did was make it worse. Hot water bottles/Voltarol gel or suppositories also provide a bit of relief.

  • muscle relaxers may not be doing what you want. You can get a lot of relaxed muscle but the deep internal muscles may be too tense as they try to compensate for the lack of muscle tone.

    You need training on how to uses your muscles. Yoga, T'ai Chi and Alexander Technique could help in this.

    Meditation and mindfulness will help you learn to observe the body. No GP or medical consultant can do this for you you must learn how to do this for yourself. There are Buddhist groups who can help you learn the techniques at very low cost.

    There are free yoga groups which the local Hindu temple can tell you about if you ask them.

    Hope this helps

  • I was also told that I have degenerative disk, and had the back aches. They were not constant like yours, but daily. I had steroid shots in the spine in the hospital. A couple days later the pain was gone. Then, about six months later I could tell it was the early signs again. I wanted to get the shots again before it got as bad as before. I called and set it up with the spine doctor. However, I had also been on a diet, and before my shots appointment date, I had lost about 20#. The really odd thing I realized was all signs of the pain were gone, and have remained absent for a couple months. I'm still about 60 pounds over weight, and dieting. So, you don't have to be skinny, just lose -- if your case is like mine.

  • I'm sure I have the same I have spine blocks at the pain clinic on day surgery but this time when the block wore off the pain came back with vengeance it was so bad my GP thought it was my kidney that was causing the pain and sent me for blood tests

  • That area is a problem for me too, so you have my sympathy. I have found proper deep tissue remedial massage invaluable. It works on the muscles, soft connective tissues around the area, stretches things out to reduce compression, & cleans out the toxins which gather in the joints. Pain makes us 'protect' those areas which reduces blood flow & doesn't flush the inflammation out - hence more pain. Make sure you get a good high trained practitioner! Not a sports masseur - a remedial massage therapist. It's not gentle but it has saved my sanity & reduced my pain, I can manage it better, I get my spine gently stretched & also given exercises to do in between sessions. My practitioner built up gently & treats my body with respect, far better than any Physio has ever done. Good luck.

  • PS It doesn't work for everyone but I have found TENS useful. It doesn't take the pain away, but makes me less aware of it. I use an iBelt which fastens round your waist & saves fiddling around with sticking those little pads on your back which can be very awkward & painful to apply when every movement hurts, also they drop off & the leads get all tangled up in your clothes! You just plug the belt into a little TENS UNIT, choose your setting, switch on & put it in your pocket or clip it to your belt. I can sit, stand, walk or lie down with the belt on, and you can leave it on when going to the loo! I think you can even sleep with it on (tho it switches off automatically after 90 mins). Also I am (ahem) quite plump around the middle & it fits round me!!! The one I use is very good & obtainable from a company called TENScare & they give good aftercare & support too. this link should take you to the main menu of their pain products, check out iBelt. Also further down the menu is the wee unit I use: Target Tens, which has lots of different settings (I use HANS setting) & you can set your own preferred intensity levels.

    The items can be bought more cheaply on Amazon, but you'd get VAT exemption as a disabled person from TENScare which would bring the price down. Tens is good for nerve pain, if compression is pinching the nerves down there. BTW I have SI joint dysfunction & have had years of osteopathic manipulation on L4/L5. Surgeons say inoperable. BUT it is improveable if you can find the best ways for you to manage your pain levels. Try to keep moving, even a tiny bit. Thought of asking your GP to refer you to the Pain Clinic? good luck Bonnie x

  • Hello, just wondering, do you get relief when you sit or neil down?,

  • Hi leagle81, I had L5-S1 done in Aug 2010. My latest MRI scan (done in Feb 2015) says the vertebrae are now fusing. I have been in agony since August 2014 with it - after a spate of gardening. I am waiting for a spinal block at Stoke Mandeville Hospital - which they've told me may or may not work. So much for 'hard working families' - you wear your body parts out doing hard manual labour. Paying taxes and N.I. Then all the Tories want to do is shaft you when you can't work anymore. Sorry for the political statement.

  • DDD is a fancy word for arthritis

    I have what you si joint pain now it's been over a year phyiso was a waste of my time and there's no my feet and toes are completely numb

  • Apologies for contradicting electricladyland but DDD is not the same as arthritis - arthritis affects bones and joints, DDD affects the discs, dehydrating and reducing the height and 'sponginess' of discs which causes pressure on the facet joints and surrounding structures.

    I've had 6 prolapsed discs as a result of DDD and have no arthritis in my spine. I have longed for arthritis to create some rigidity in my hypermobile spine but at age 60 there's no sign of it sadly 😁 All of the connective tissue in my body is too stretchy as a result of hypermobility syndrome. Having had 2 children age 36 + I have no stretch marks - Id swap that in a nano second if I could!


  • All I know curly it bloody hurts I'm 44 and I feel twice that age si joint pain for over a year now my feet and toes are numb all the time another sleepless night I rattle from pills I've had physio hydro MRI. Scan now it's more tests EMG test and my hands have got CTS having a op on both hands

    I wish I could start my life again

  • Hi, I'm new to this board as I've diagnosed with DDD and ay my wits' end with pain. I am 56 and in 1975 (I was 16) I was involved in a horrific car crash (driver was killed) I was in the front passenger seat, hit my head off the dashboard, was trapped in the car and had to be cut out by fire crew. I had brain haemorrhage, in a come for 5 days, left leg numb for 5 or so years but "recovered " enough to carry on with life, went to college (it was a struggle getting qualifications but with my boyfriend's (now husband) help I got there. When I was about 25 I started getting pins and needles down left side of my body from my head right down to my toes. Back pain started about 6 years ago , getting seriously chronic 2 years ago. I am on various meds and now waiting for appointment to get injections into my facet joints - can anyone tell me what this involves if you have had it too? My lovely lady GP was honest enough to tell me she wasn't sure (unlike the stupid GP who first explained my X ray as a slipped disc rather than admit he wasn't sure)

    Sorry to take so long - can anyone help me please or sympathise? My lovely GP wants me to not struggle to work (as a teacher) but I think staying at home would make mem depressed.

    So glad to have found this board!


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