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Lower Back - Degenerative Disc Disease


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9 replies to this topic

#1 goin2pa

 
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Posted 07 July 2011 - 08:47 AM

Like many, I've suffered lower back problems for years and have received PT, MRI and lots of drugs over the years while active duty. I retired with 27 years active duty (AD) last year. I recently received a copy of my C & P exam from Sept 2010. While AD I was always told that the pain in my LB is caused by "Bulging Disc" at L4/L5 and the sporadic pain and follow-on numbness down my right leg is Sciatica. But the C & P calls it Degenerative Disc Disease instead. <BR style="mso-special-character: line-break"><BR style="mso-special-character: line-break">

My question is – does the VA look at long-term chronic pain when judging for award or only range of motion on that one particular day of the C & P? My range of motion is stricly determined by my level of pain . . . on C & P day it was minor, and I had full ROM.

Thanks in advance - Jim


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#2 brokensoldier244th

 
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Posted 07 July 2011 - 10:54 AM

ROM on the day of. The usual canard is to approach the C&P as if it was your worst day, or, a bit more drastic, don't medicate for a few days prior.

CAS

#3 john999

 
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Posted 07 July 2011 - 11:11 AM

I bet if you are having numbness down your leg you have a herniated disc even if it is not really bad. When did you get a MRI the last time. When it starts to run down the leg it means the pulp of the disc is impinging on the nerve in a serious way. I am no doctor. I have DDD in neck and back so I am telling you what I know. I have herniation in my neck and I get the pain running across the shoulders and numbness. That is a clue you probably have some of your disc touching the nerves that run down your leg through the backbone. I am sure you know all this already. Has anyone recommended surgery? When VA says DDD they may be implying that it is just due to normal aging. I am really glad you filed your claim soon after discharge because if you wait the VA has a way of saying it is just due to age.

#4 allan

 
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Posted 07 July 2011 - 03:23 PM

I know just how you feel.
I'm having more trouble with being able to stand. Numbness and shooting pain down both legs now. Butt cheeks feel brused. Used to be just the right leg or just the left. Have lost 1 inch in the length of my right leg due to muscle loss from nerve damage is my guess. But, just a guess cuz no ones ever said what caused it.
I've lost work just by sneezing and having a disk pop to the side.
I have several disks and joints in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar that are bad. One in the cervical that is poking the spinal cord, but hasnt penitrated it according to MRI results.

According to research i've read and people i've talked to who've had joint fusion, they say it wasn't worth it and little if any pain was helped.
I've delt with DDD and DJD for over 40 yrs. Have had many periods of 3 months or so where I could barely walk.

About all i've found that helps is muscle relaxants for spasms, and Oxycontin CR. You must do some kind of exercises and stretches. Any part you dont use, you'll loose the use of it. If the disc is completely gone, you may not have a choice but choose fusion.
I'm no dr, just know how"my" body works.


PS
After seeing the patient next to me only get operated on one side of his cervical because the students operating ran out of time in the operating room, than having to go through being knocked out and another operation the next day to finish it, I don't think I would have the VA operate anyway. I would rather get surgery where i'm not a lab rat.

#5 kymike

 
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Posted 08 July 2011 - 08:00 PM

I know just how you feel.
I'm having more trouble with being able to stand. Numbness and shooting pain down both legs now. Butt cheeks feel brused. Used to be just the right leg or just the left. Have lost 1 inch in the length of my right leg due to muscle loss from nerve damage is my guess. But, just a guess cuz no ones ever said what caused it.
I've lost work just by sneezing and having a disk pop to the side.
I have several disks and joints in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar that are bad. One in the cervical that is poking the spinal cord, but hasnt penitrated it according to MRI results.

According to research i've read and people i've talked to who've had joint fusion, they say it wasn't worth it and little if any pain was helped.
I've delt with DDD and DJD for over 40 yrs. Have had many periods of 3 months or so where I could barely walk.

About all i've found that helps is muscle relaxants for spasms, and Oxycontin CR. You must do some kind of exercises and stretches. Any part you dont use, you'll loose the use of it. If the disc is completely gone, you may not have a choice but choose fusion.
I'm no dr, just know how"my" body works.


PS
After seeing the patient next to me only get operated on one side of his cervical because the students operating ran out of time in the operating room, than having to go through being knocked out and another operation the next day to finish it, I don't think I would have the VA operate anyway. I would rather get surgery where i'm not a lab rat.



#6 goin2pa

 
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Posted 09 July 2011 - 03:32 PM

Thanks to everyone for the quick replies and information. I am 50 years old now (retired last year with 27 years AD), and have had LBP since 1992. I was injured in the line of duty as a flight mechanic with the Coast Guard. Luckily mine is no-where near as bad as most of the cases I've read. I had my C & P while still on active duty (Sept 2010). I just wanted to make sure that it was listed in case it gets worse as time goes by; I agree that there is likely a herniated disc pushing on nerves. That's why I was surprised to see it listed as DDD rather than the original diagnosis I received from the flight surgeon. I did have an MRI back in 2006 which merely showed compression and "slight" bulging at L4 L5.

I haven't received my results from the VA as of yet – I was told that I currently have a suspense date of July 18th.


Again thank you all - I really appreciate your time.

God Bless America - Jim



I bet if you are having numbness down your leg you have a herniated disc even if it is not really bad. When did you get a MRI the last time. When it starts to run down the leg it means the pulp of the disc is impinging on the nerve in a serious way. I am no doctor. I have DDD in neck and back so I am telling you what I know. I have herniation in my neck and I get the pain running across the shoulders and numbness. That is a clue you probably have some of your disc touching the nerves that run down your leg through the backbone. I am sure you know all this already. Has anyone recommended surgery? When VA says DDD they may be implying that it is just due to normal aging. I am really glad you filed your claim soon after discharge because if you wait the VA has a way of saying it is just due to age.



#7 goin2pa

 
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Posted 09 July 2011 - 03:38 PM

The day of my C & P was a great day, I felt good . . . I didn’t lie or embellish the way I felt – but did explain that it was a good day, and that I had been on terminal leave for a considerable period of time, so I naturally felt better as I hadn’t been doing much. Of course none of that was in the remarks.

Thanks again – Jim

ROM on the day of. The usual canard is to approach the C&P as if it was your worst day, or, a bit more drastic, don't medicate for a few days prior.

CAS



#8 Big Mac

 
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Posted 27 July 2011 - 11:14 PM

The day of my C & P was a great day, I felt good . . . I didn't lie or embellish the way I felt – but did explain that it was a good day, and that I had been on terminal leave for a considerable period of time, so I naturally felt better as I hadn't been doing much. Of course none of that was in the remarks.

Thanks again – Jim




#9 Big Mac

 
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Posted 27 July 2011 - 11:19 PM

I just retired from the Air Force after 26 years on 31 Dec 2010. I've had two back surgeries while on active duty for L-5-S1 decompressive laminectomics & microdiscectomy at Bethesda Medical Center, Bethesda Maryland. (Dec 2001) & L5-S1 redo discectomy Nov 2010. My C&P exams were conducted Aug& Sept 2010.

During physical therapy Feb 2011, I experienced shooting pains from my lower back & buttocks down my left & right legs. 02 Mar 2011, I was treated in the emergency room for chronic back pains & given Percocet's. 19 Mar 2011, Ihad an MRI, & the results were forward to my Neurosurgeon. 21 Mar 2011, treated for lower back pain in the emergency room & given Neurontin.

07 April 2011, I received my MRI results from my Neurosurgeon, recurrent left L5-S1 disc protrusion, central broad-based L5-S1 disc protrusion, L5-S1 lateral recessstenosis, right L5-S1 neural foraminal disc protrusion with questionable involvement of the right L5 nerve root. There is also a right L4-5 neuralforaminal disc protrusion with questionable involvement of the right L4 nerveroot. There is also left L4-5 neural foraminal and proximal far-lateral discprotrusion with involvement of the ventral aspect of the left L4 nerve root.There is also a left L5-S1 neural foraminal disc bulge/protrusion.

07 June2011, I received the brown envelope from the VA 80% disability

50% Sleep Apnea,

20% IVDSdegenerative arthritis changes, thoracolumbar spine, lower back, status postsurgery

10%Patellofemoral syndrome, left knee condition with osteoarthritis

10%Residuals right ankle fracture with brace, inserts, degeneration and torn ligaments

10%Tinnitus

10% Boweldysfunction associated with IVDS with degenerative arthritis changes,thoracolumbar spine

Statement also attached from the VA: We have reviewed your records and they suggest you may be entitled to additional benefits. We first need a claim from you or your representative. Please tell us on the enclosed Statement In Support of Claim (VA Form 21-4138) that you want to file a claim for degenerative changes of the left hip and DJD, right knee and bilateral pes planus, plantar fasciitis and hallux valgus.

09 Jun 2011, I filed a VA Form 21-4138, for reconsideration of rating decision of thoracolumbar IVDS and TMJ, status post surgical repair (claimed as dental surgery x 2/hardware and Individual Unemployability. Per the DAV, I'm also entitled to service connection for DJD left hip, DJD right knee, B/L plantar fasciitis,B/L pes planus and B/L hallux valgus.

21 & 23 June 2011, back in emergency room & treated for Lumbar disc herniation with radiculopathy, stenosis of lumbosacral spine & osteoarthritis of the knees. 12 Jul 2011, myelogram & CT scan revealed 3 herinated disc's with bone spurs. My next appointment with my Neurosurgeon is schedule for 3 Aug 2011& Orthopedic surgeon appointment, 10 Aug 2011. My back isn't getting any better & knees are always buckling. Good luck with your claim.


Edited by Big Mac, 27 July 2011 - 11:25 PM.


#10 goin2pa

 
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Posted 28 July 2011 - 01:15 PM

Wow a 6 month turn-around time on your claim - Good For You . . . I've heard most take longer. I guess your medical stuff was very well documented.

I retired last Sept, and other than a couple of letters stating that the VA is working my claim I've recieved no correspondance at all.

Hope you can get better with PT and BE CAREFULL!!!!

Jim




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