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Degenerative discs

Spine Health | Last Active: May 14 9:08am | Replies (6)

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Very interesting reading your experience. I was in physical therapy for the past year for 2 problems: Degenerative discs in lumbar (bothersome and limiting and I walk slightly bent over leaning right). Having been athletic all my life (I am 80 - but I do not look, act, think or feel like it - I am not in serious pain (but I never seem to feel pain much anyway). But walking is difficult for more than 5 or 10 minutes - NOT due to pain, but due to back muscles sort of having a "spasm" and my back feels WEAK. If I sit all day I feel great. Re my neck which acted up same time as back, well that was VERY PAINFUL. After 9 months of PT and excercises, my neck is 85% improved so I am OK with that. But my back prevents sports and even walking is 10 to 20 minutes at a time, depending on each day. I have been told for a long time I have scoliosis, but it never had meaning until now. I have heard from you now and others that back surgery is a real problem. What can a person do? Should I spend all day - every day - exercising? Is this not going to ever change?

These issues have been present mildly for several years. However, I recently moved to a new state to be nearer my children and grandchildren. I have moved many times, but this time was FULL OF MAJOR STRESS for 2 years due to MANY circumstances. I have a life; I drive; go to library and movies and events and work out at the YMCA. So that is good. But i must do something about my back. I am thinking of going to Cleveland Clinic since I live now near Pittsburgh (2 hours away). I do not feel my local doctors will have the experience, background, support and perhaps state-of-the-art medical training as Cleveland Clinic. I need a good MRI. I have not done a closed MRI which I know presents
best results (mild claustrophobia). I did an old-fashioned sitting MRI which felt great - but I guess the results were not the best. I like Open MRI's but that is not as revealing as closed - so I am committed to now do the best MRI I can find.

My mother lived until 91 but her last years were absolutely awful Her body sort of gave up. She was tallish and slender; had a busy life; but she was an artist, a sewer and reader - so her activities were not body-building like mine. I do not want to live that kind of life where the body "caves in" for lack of a better term.
Back to STRESS -
as soon as I have a stressful situation, immediately my neck starts hurting (but not my back).
I am happy and content enough with life EXCEPT FOR THIS DETERIORATION OF BODY AND PEOPLE WONDERING WHAT IS WRONG. This all became worse during the 2 years of high stress. I am waiting to see if I get any better as I have less stress over time.
So, generally, would you all say the prognosis is not good for my condition.?

One nore item. I have a VASCULAR condition in my legs. Veins are having difficulty
returning blood to my heart. Veins in my ankle would suddenly burst and a steady stream
of blood would shoot out. But now I wear compression socks most of the time - so vascular
seems to be under control. I have also had 2 TKR's in 2015 and 2019 (due to 30 yrs of tennis which I LOVED - but they were NOT painful and my recovery was quick. That was nothing compared to present day. The only med I take for back is one Meloxicam a day (or sometimes Tylenol). It does not help much and i am worried about how it can affect liver/kidney. Should I take more of that??

Again, apologies for anyone who may read this rambling. All thoughts welcome - and I thank you.

I wouldn't even allow myself to write to Mayo Clinic until I was able to control some things and until my live upheaval was more under control.
Sorry for this long narrative.

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Replies to "Very interesting reading your experience. I was in physical therapy for the past year for 2..."

I am not sure what to tell you since I have not had back surgery yet. You do sound like a young 80 year old. I am 74 and am getting ready to have neck surgery for degenerative discs. They are causing nerve compression. & I don't have any choice. You need to find a good surgeon that you feel like you trust. Since I live a couple of hours away from Roanoke. VA, I will have my surgery there June 11th.

You have the best attitude & I wish you all the best.


@libertyusa I think going to Cleveland Clinic is a excellent idea. When I hit a dead end with local spine surgeons, my neurologist suggested either Mayo or Cleveland Clinics as my next step. Mayo was an easier drive and a bit closer with less congested urban areas to navigate. I also read published medical literature by surgeons I was considering, and I found a close match with a surgeon from Mayo, so I requested an appointment and it was a good choice. Cleveland Clinic is similar to Mayo.

Connect is a patient forum monitored by Mayo, but you are not communicating with Mayo doctors here, although there are many Mayo patients here sharing experiences like myself.

Are you taking blood thinners? Bleeding can be an issue. My mom was on Eloquis and kept getting nose bleeds and would bleed easily any time she bumped into something and they lowered her dose.

I think just about everyone feels stress in their neck and shoulders. I think your mom had some good ideas for being creative and that is a good way to give yourself a break from stress. Pets are good at this too. My mom has 2 small dogs who keep her company.

I don’t have scoliosis, and surgery isn’t always necessary, but aging and osteoporosis can affect the stability of a spine with scoliosis. Surgery can be very involved and leave lasting pain. It is worth asking a specialist what options you have. There may be less invasive procedures that could help, but that can only be answered by a surgeon. My cousin who is 80 had a laminectomy which helped him a lot, but he doesn’t have scoliosis, and I think a laminectomy can cause some instability.

I’m glad you are near you grandkids. I hope you get to enjoy seeing them and your own children. I like to watch a news program online and on Fridays they ask viewers “what brought you joy this week” and they have them on camera with a reporter at a location, so I am asking you. What gave you joy this week?