The Diagnosis

I’ll give my doctor one thing. She always gives me results quickly. Got a call late yesterday afternoon with the diagnosis:

Degenerative Disc Disease and Bone Spurs/Osteoarthritis of the back L 4/5 and S 1 with Spinal Stenosis

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to have someone validate my suspicions. I guess I’ve known something was wrong for a long time, but I would often dismiss my worries, thinking I’m a wimp or have low pain tolerance and that I would just embarrass myself by going in to the doctor. So my first response was relief that there was actually something wrong. Then I wanted to know what I could do about it. Of course, my doc told me there was nothing I can do, that it’s unfortunate to have this occur at such a young age, and that she typically sees this type of degeneration in people 20-30 years older than me. She offered up a Prednisone prescription again, which I politely declined. I felt armed with new information as I hung up the phone. Finally I have a reason for my pain. Now, what to do about it?

For starters, I’m starting another Whole30 today. I’ve completed  two Whole30’s, but I didn’t pay much attention to whether it made any difference in my back pain or not. I was more focused on my energy levels and joint pain than anything else. And I definitely noticed improvement there. I’d like to rule out the possibility that I could be aggravating my situation with something I’m eating. All I know is that this past month I’ve been more lax about what I’m eating, and this has probably been one of my worst months pain-wise.

I’m going to do research. And more research. Not about the “traditional” methods of managing chronic pain, but about the homeopathic, natural ways of not only relieving pain, but possibly slowing the progression of the disease. I mean, heck, my kids are young. I don’t want to be all hunched over cringing in pain when they’re teenagers. I’ve already received a few very helpful responses from others who are walking the same road. I’ll take any advice I can get, so if you have tips or suggestions, fire away!
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  1. Linda Mcmullen Marcy says

    I do not medicate, not to say I never take a mild OTC pain meds. I do a standing appointment with my Chiropractor, exercise at the gym working on core muscles, yoga, walking, proper amount of rest. Very healthy diet & I do use a whole food sup. JuicePLUS+. Which has a NATURAL anti-inflammatory effect on the whole body.

  2. Amy says

    That is my exact diagnosis. As I mentioned, decompression worked for me, but be wary of docs that want to charge thousands- I paid $100 per treatment and needed 12 treatments over 6 months. Still a huge investment, but nothing compared to surgery! Let me know if you have any questions!

  3. Amy Edelen says

    Linda knows best! :) Occupational therapist/body workers can help too and give you gentle exercises to lengthen/realign. Green smoothies and fish oil and flax seed oil help keep the inflammation and pain down. Wheat and sugar worsen. OTC pain relievers tear up tummies bringing all sorts of awful unfun consequences. Prescriptions messed me up worse. I use Juice Plus+ too and lemon essential oil.

  4. Kristi says

    Not sure if you would be open to SAM-E (it is a supplement) but my husband has had really good joint pain reduction with it.

  5. Pat says

    There is a terrific woman who has developed a whole excerise program that was originally made for those with back problems. Theresa Tapp is her name and is her website. She’s got alot of great info in her newsletters/blog too. Hope you get help and relief quickly now that you know what you have.

  6. jennyv says

    Fortunately, there is something you can do about your condition. You’ve been misinformed that there’s nothing you can do — the good news is that you can improve your condition! Please check out where you can locate a doctor near you.
    MaximizedLiving focuses on spinal correction and have had patients across the country getting amazing results. They also have a facebook page:
    (Please email me if you have any questions or concerns)

  7. Erika says

    For natural pain management you could try bromelain found in pineapples and curcumin (tumeric). Also check out this blog. Promotes tummy safe exercises for a variety of stomach and back problems. The progression of the stomach exercises are broken down even more and the exercises focuses on our “God-given gridle.”

  8. Melissa says

    Hi there!
    It’s so strange that I am reading this because I literally *just* picked up my MRI results from a few weeks ago. (I knew the results, I just went and got copies today) Anyways, I am 30 years old and diagnosed DDD and multi level disk protrusions, as well as a few other things I have yet to fully understand. Huge shock! They said my back looks like a 60 year olds, not 30. I have never had back issues in the past, but always been very active.I always have a 2 and 4 year old. Anyways, like you, I am taking the most holistic approach I can. And this means allowing more “me” time. LOTS of Yoga, at least several sets of stretches everyday, whole food, juicing, extra rest, walking and having a positive attitude. I can’t change the future, but I can change today. Also,in plysical therapy I learned better ways to sit, walk, pick up dirty socks on the floor (hello killer thighs!)

  9. Melissa says

    Oh my goodness- that got long. Anyways, in short- you are doing all the right things to keep your body healthy and strong. So many people just want a pill to fix something rather than taking control of their own life and choices. It’s a journey, but I am on it with you! Feel free to email me anytime! Hugs!

  10. Cyndye says

    Seek out a chiropractor who does Muscle Response Testing also. Eliminating grains, dairy, and sugar will help tremendously. You may also have a chemical and/or metal overload in your body. A hair analysis is the best way to determine this. I wish you well.

  11. PaulaB says

    I don’t know where you are located, but you could read about the different procedures offered at the Centeno Schultz Clinic in Wheatridge, CO. They specialize in non-surgical pain management and have some innovative therapies. Maybe they could refer you to someone nearer to you who does similar work. I have a family member who was greatly helped by them.

  12. sarah says

    I did disc decompression and it helped a LOT – I have degenerative disc @ L4/L5 and it has bugged me for years. ditching grains helped a lot with the inflammation but I still need to visit my chiropractor regularly (I go to a Maximized Living Chiro & while it is an investment up front it has paid off for me – he sees the kids also).

    I did the decompression a few years ago and was doing maintenance for awhile, but I think now with regular adjustments and the lower levels of inflammation I can do without it. (Might still be helpful but I have to prioritize the $$).

  13. Leslie says

    …and this is why I bike ride. Horrendous pain for years – was in a car accident almost 6 years ago and about 3 years ago the pain was almost intolerable. Did physical therapy, then insurance FINALLY okayed an MRI – herniated disc – L5 S1. A good friend told me she had heard about a man with a ruptured disc that worked his way back to pain free living by cycling. I was willing to give it a try and now, I almost forget I have a back issue!!! But I do have to ride at LEAST once every two weeks or the pain creeps back in. And I’m pretty careful with my back, lifting, etc. But I’ve gone from 4 naproxen sodium a day – to nothing!!!

    • says

      Leslie, I didn’t realize you had back issues as well–I just thought it was your knees. I’m sorry! What a pain. Literally. Glad to hear biking has helped that!! I’m going to try other methods before I give up running. I just love it too much. Hoping that I can continue with it!

      • Leslie says

        I mostly just wanted to encourage you! I think there is a solution for you out there that doesn’t involve drugs or surgery! I was blessed to have lots of prayer – I’d say that was a major part of the solution! I’ll be praying for you to find just the right thing for YOU! : )

  14. Damaris Svennungsen says

    Spinal nerve blocks are used to alleviate severe nerve pain; the doctor goes into the canal where the nerve is pinched with a long needle and injects a long-lasting novocaine (spinal epidural). This generally blocks only the painful nerve, and it is pretty effective. It wears off after about 6 to 12 months, and will need to be re-done. The only problem with this is that it can degenerate the spine, so it’s not a great permanent fix, but can certainly buy you some time. Most orthopedic spine specialists do these types of procedures, so I would assume it’s possible you looked into this already??

  15. Rose says

    Read the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis. I had joint pain and all sorts of things happening and it’s helped me big time with the joint pain and the back pain getting the inflammation out of my body with NO meds! He also has a Facebook page. He’s Wheat Belly on there. Some good stuff!


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