Neck Pain and Degenerative Disk Disease

Most people that know me understand that I have dealt with Degenerative Disk Disease (DDD) for over 30 years.   When I first started showing symptoms , it was primarily neck pain and shoulder pain.   My Degenerative Disk issues are mainly in my Cervical spine and run down into my Thoracic spine.  (the neck and upper back/shoulders area) However, I do have it in my lower back as well. At this point, it just hasn’t manifested too severely in my low back.  Sadly, I didn’t seek out medical treatment for many, many years, simply because I was afraid of surgery. My mother has degenerative disk disease, so I knew what my future held.   

For those of you who don’t know what DDD is, I will give you a brief description.  Basically it is when the disks in your spine start to break down. The disks when in a healthy state, kind of act like shock protectors to your spine.  So as you walk, run, jump, exercise, etc., your able to do so without pain, until those disks become unhealthy. In addition, you may develop Oseteoartritis, which is basically where the discs have collapsed completely.

About 12 years ago, I was working at a job that I absolutely LOVED.   I worked at a desk, on a computer all day long. As I said I loved my job, so when my neck pain had gotten so severe it started affecting my work, I knew it was time to do something.   Originally I went to our local chiropractor and he was able to give me relief from my pain by using therapeutic massage, manual adjustments and spinal decompression. The treatment plan that he had set up for me worked wonderfully for about 2 years.   However, it did finally reach a point that my disease progressed beyond what he could do.

Looking back, I wish I had sought out treatment much sooner than what I did.  I firmly believe if I had, it is possible that I may not have had to undergo the surgical options that I ended up with.  You see, after my chiropractor had basically done all he could to help me, I was still having severe pain 30 minutes after I would get to work.  My neck pain and shoulder pain was so intense I would literally be in tears at my desk , with pain running down my arms into my hands. I had no choice but to go to a neurosurgeon, who of course recommended spinal fusion surgery.   That began what I can now refer to as my nightmare year. I had 3 major neck surgeries within 8 months of each other. I spent 5 ½ months in a hard collar neck brace and ended up disabled when all was said and done. I have not been able to work since the last day I took off for my 1st surgery.  My spine is fused from C3 to T2. (C=cervical, T=Thoracic) I have had bone removed from my hip and put into my neck and I have 2 titanium rods , a titanium plate and 5 screws in my neck. Whenever I get an x-ray, the tech always laughs afterwards and tells me I have a “ton of hardware” in there. I have multiple grand-babies, five of which are ages 3 and under, that sadly I can not pick up.  My pain level is managed, but is still a fight every day to stay under control. The nerves and muscles in my back are all affected by this disease. I have days I am barely able to walk.  

My husband also has Degenerative Disk Disease , in addition to that he deals with sciatica.  Now, if you have never dealt with sciatica pain, be thankful!!  Be very thankful!! It feels as though your leg is on fire and you can’t figure where the flame is or how to put it out!   It starts in your lower back and usually runs down your legs. I have had to deal with it a couple times as well. What is really scary to me is that our 23 year old daughter has been having a LOT of sciatica pain and although she has not been diagnosed as having Degenerative Disk Disease, I worry that she will suffer with it as well.   Most people don’t realize that it is an inherited disease. So obviously, I have always kept an eye on our kids to see if they showed any signs of their bones being affected by it.  

I wanted to take the time to write about this to maybe encourage others that are in the beginning stages of Degenerative Disk Disease to seek out treatment early!  There are so many wonderful places out there like Vancouver Disc Center, that provide therapies , some of which weren’t even available when I first started dealing with my DDD , 30 years or so ago.     I encourage you, to please if you are having any pain in your neck, shoulders, headaches, etc., seek out treatment! Use my story as a cautionary tale!   

As always, thank you for stopping by my blog today!!  I would love to hear from you below in the comments and feel free to share this post with any family/friends social media channels that you have!        

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3 Responses so far.

  1. Renea G says:

    Bless your heart! I have a very good friend who was recently diagnosed with DDD and he has suffered for years with lower back pain. Even our last year in high school, he would have crippling pain in his back. He’s recently started feeling it in his shoulders. I’m definitely going to suggest he see a chiropractor. My guy friend isn’t online or I would share your post with him. Instead I read all I can about his disease and talk his ear off. <3

  2. narusite says:

    hope you get better

  3. samantha says:

    my father has it. Now my brother has it to. They say it is not genetic but what are the odds that both of them would have it if it is not genetic?
    Anyways it is very serious and causes a lot of pain. I know what my father has went through I hope that you have help.

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