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DI Mis Information

Dr. Says I Have degenerative Disc Disease.

spineNow what?

You have had an aching knot in the upper left shoulder just behind your shoulder blade OR there is a pinch in your low back when you bend forward to pick up something from the floor. It hasn’t really been too much of a problem but lately that ache has been getting worse and you swear you can feel it start to travel further into your arm or leg. After you finally see the doctor he recommends x-rays. The radiology report comes back that there is a degenerated disc at some specified level in your spine. Horrors!

What does that mean?

The short answer is that after age 25, every one of us gradually loses the ability to retain fluid within our spinal discs and the discs gradually start to settle down and shrink. By the time you are 45 your L5-S1 disc (the one at the bottom of the spine) is basically pancaked flat. Usually by age 50 the next one up follows suit. This does not mean you are going to have spinal pain though. This is just the NORMAL aging process.

Studies have shown lumbar disc degeneration present in 40% of individuals UNDER the age of 30 and 90% in those between the ages of 50 to 55 years. Another study demonstrated almost 50% evidence of degenerated discs and 25% with bulging discs in a sample group of adults aged 20 to 22 years old. It is interesting to note that none of the 20 to 22 year olds reported any back pain at all.

So the take-home message here is that while x-ray/MRI/CT scans can be very useful in serious problems (fractures, dislocations, spinal cord injuries, etc), these reports can show a lot of stuff that may not be relevant to the specific pain you might be having at the time. A good question to ask your doctor when they tell you the result of scan is, “Are these results typical to someone my age?”

If you are still concerned about you results and would like to actively do something about it, drop by or call the 360 Mayfield office and book an appointment. We can spend the time to help you understand what is happening and will design a program to help you take care of yourself.

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