degenerative disc spine

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Please can someone clarify for me is DDD the same as Osteoarthritis? My GP tells me it isn't 

despite me having DDD and 2 herniated disc he refuses to refer me to rheumatologist. Sending me to pain clinic for epidural injections and physio. 

I have had years of back pain now affecting knees and heels hard to weight bear and constant night pain and morning stiffness. How can I get a referral without GP. No other doctor in practice 

please help 

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18 Replies

  • Posted

    DDD is a slight genetic true cause probably multifunctional it could be from general wear and tear as you get older also could be from a traumatic injury such as a car accident the disk wear out as there's no blood supply so if a injury is there it can't repair its self degenerative cascade whereby the disc wear out.

    Osteoarthritis is where the joints become painful and stiff most common areas are hips, knees, small joints in hands

    In the spine is a breakdown of the cartilage of the joints and disc in for neck and back

    Sometimes its produce Spurs that pressure on the neves leaving the spinal column , This can cause weakness in the and pain In the legs or arms.

    Xrays are the best way too detect it blood tests and MRI scans

    I have DDD and I've seen my scan at the pain clinic my lower disc is completely flat it was described too me like a squashed cake I also have peripheral neuropathy in my feet and toes

    Hope it's not too hard to understand

    Paul x

  • Posted

    Hi Lisa

    The reason he won't send you to see a rheumatologist is because osteoarthritis isn't the same as rheumatoid arthritis. I have osteoarthritis and a herniated disc. I had physio, which the killed me and then in Aug I had the epidural injections, I felt the benefits straight away. Only just recently has the pain started coming back.

    They are worth it xx

    Hope this helps


    • Posted

      Hi Sandie

      Thanks for your reply can I ask you if you experience severe night pain?

      I suffer with this on my right side by sacroiliac joint. When I get up in the morning I am so stiff my knees hurt and I can't weight bear on my heels it takes me about an hour to get going and slowly improves the more I move. Did you experience this?

    • Posted

      I'm not sure how old you are but I'm 40 this started for me at 33 I had the disc degeneration diagnosed. My osteoarthritis is in my back and then obviously the discs. I was on so much medication before my epidural injection. I took amytriptaline at night along with codeine, zomorph and gabapentin. And was still pain turning over and trying to get comfortable at night. I've started getting pain in my hips like I've been lay on a concrete block. I got pain, even though I was on so many tablets, all the way down to my ankles but the consultant at the hospital still says there isn't any neural impingement - but some days I can't even bend down to put washing in the washer. Where is your osteoarthritis?


  • Posted

    What I know about it you could write on a postage stamp but my understanding is DDD is wear and tear over time and osteo is one of the resultant complications of DDD.  I'm in the uk and here the GP won't send you to the hospital for seven weeks in the hope the body heals itself unless there are complications with the bowel or bladder but I am learning all this as I go along. After that time your 18 week clock starts from the GP referral

    so you have another four and a half months possibly before your appointment hopefully with a surgeon who should refer you for an MRI.

    if your in the uk you can self refer using the online app which your GP will give you a password to which gives you the choice of where you want to go.

    other than that, change dr's or complain to the cqc if your in the uk as all hospitals and community services are governed by them.

    hope some of this helps and good luck


    • Posted

      Thank you to everyone that has responded I have already had MRI of lumbar spine that's how they found the herniated disc and annular tears. I am just feeling a bit frustrated with my GP as all my symptoms seem to be pointing to an inflammatory condition as well severe pain at night. Morning stiffness painful knees and heel pain that are at there worst in the morning and gradually improve with excercise. I have experienced this severe night pain on quite a few previous occasions. So although painful I do t think it's disc related... Seem to get more answers on here than from my GP 
  • Posted

    Ahh ok.  I've had two MRIs one lumber and the other full spine.  My injury was 7 months ago and so far other than pain killers and waiting and waiting and waiting some more.  Nothing.  I have had physio appointments where they wouldn't touch me first time as they didn't have the results of the MRI second physio I told her I couldn't hold my weight on my left foot as it was numb so she went through a series of exercises quite quickly ending with me not thinking and standing on my left foot and hitting the floor.

    it was then decided I should not have physio until I had been to pain management.  Pain management is on Friday and I am told it's a twenty minute appointment where they take details and if your lucky you will get an appointment in a month.  Meanwhile physio have made another appointment for next week although I won't have had any treatment.

    so, seven months ago I herniated three discs.  I see two surgeons one says I have facet issues too second surgeon says everything is fine.  Electro test person asked if I'd had a stroke as I had no feeling whatsoever.  Surgeon says all is fine and discharges me to pain management.

    now my pain level has gone through the roof, I am on morphine and a whole bunch of pills including naproxen which is an anti inflammatory I have a brick in my back which prevents any form of laying down with or without cushions and now my body has developed a violent twitch spasm call it what you will.  Uncontrollable all over my body, my foot is still numb, the sciatic burn us still in my leg and foot and buttock I have running water sensation down my arms and no sensation in three fingers on my right hand.

    i got a second opinion by going privately who went through my MRI with me.  I have three herniated discs in my lumber, I have spondylitis in my thoracic and two slipped discs in my neck.

    my advice, go private and get a second opinion.  We are going into pain management armed with all the information the NHS failed to tell me and details of options rather than being fobbed off.

    Ask questions.  Book a double slot with your GP be a nuisance until he refers you.

    • Posted

      Oh dear I thought I was in a mess but you topped that one. How awful that you have suffered so much. The thing is they make you feel like your pulling a sickie and want a certificate. I have never asked for one just want to get sorted... Going private is so expensive it's not something I can afford at the moment so I am just going to be a nuisance like you said. All the best
  • Posted

    There are people on here that make my issues look like a walk in the park and it does you good to read some of them and realise your not as bad as you thought you were.  That's not pointed at you, it's now I deal with it.

    as for your GP, well the bracket for old age used to b 80 in th NHS and then it was maintenance unless serious intervention was required now 50 is the new 80.  

    Check out out your area and see if there is an alternative GP as you have to b prepared to consider the issue that your dr may decide to remove you from his list. Having said that, if he isn't listening, what's the loss?

    write down everything.  Every possible question you can think of and get responses in English.  The new motto is clear and concise and no jargon or something along those lines.

    i read on hear someone complaining that they couldn't wear heels until they had been up for an hour and moving around.  I've been told I I'll never wear heels again and to get used to it!!!

  • Posted

    Sorry to hear : DDD is caused over time in most cases and can usually produce arthritis in that area.

    RA is arthritis but more from or caused by the body sort of like a disease. Most RA doctors would rather not treat you but that does not mean they simply will not.

    I was treated by a RA doctor for 2 years and my problem was all due to my back and the failed operations. He really just treated the pain and nothing else.

    Is there a reason you want to be seen by a RA Dr ? or have you just heard good things about them.

    Never give up the fight !


  • Posted

    Had my pain management appointment on Friday and we went in armed with all the information we had gathered.  For further consideration asking for a second opinion cost £75 as all I wanted was someone to explain the MRI to me not to complain or contradict what I had been told but I got the result in writing and wrote down every symptom, every medication, all self help and everything else I could think of.  The lady who saw us wasn't in a nurses uniform which I questioned.nnshevwas a nurse with extra training in the care of patients with chronic pain.  So far it's not looking good.  50 minutes later she had listened to everything, taken notes, taken my notes if medication and self help etc and then set about changing my medication then and there and explained why.  I am gradually being put on the highest level of gabapentin and advised to attend physio where she is recommending massage, acupuncture and gentle exercise to keep my muscles moving where I have muscle atrophy.n she then said a letter would be sent to my GP and I would be fast tracked to see the consultants at pain management.  Just how fast, fast tracked is I will keep you posted but it just goes to show you have to keep pushing hard before you get anywhere or as I was told,  SHOUT LOUD. Complain and take it further with every breach.n find out how the 18 week wait works and complain at every breach. Never accept that there is a list of people in front of you as there will always be a list of people in front of you and if you don't make a fuss, like they do, you will wait and wait and wait and wait like I did.
    • Posted

      I'm guessing they took you off all the Opiate pain meds and told you how they dont help. Now they will load you up with gabapentin along with anti inflamatory meds. If they work thats great but if they dont then what do you do for pain ?

      The standard form of treatment now is is anti depressants and a change of life style. Here in the US the media and the government have put a lot of pressure on the medical profession to not prescribe opiate pain meds for non cancer pain. They make the claim that most people will turn to heroin once they have used opiates for pain. Its causing a huge problem in the states and people with real chronic pain are getting their meds cut by 95% or none at all.

  • Posted

    Well........what can I say.  Urgent turns out to be urgent.  I had a telephone call today and my urgent appointment is this week! 

    Lets ts see what happens next


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