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Degeneration at Age 21

simon341
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05/24/2009 - 11:03am
Degeneration at Age 21
Hello Everyone,

In the past year, I have had a diagnosis of two herniated discs in my lower back, that, on the MRI, appear to be completely black and degenerated. I was wondering whether I will live with this loss of height and degeneration forever, and whether it will, in fact get worse, or is it possible to reverse some of the damage that has been done?

-SImon
Esther Gokhale's picture
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09/10/2008 - 8:36pm
The most important thing is to address the problem that caused the herniations in the first place. If you succeed in decompressing the affected discs, then several things can happen:

1. The remaining nucleus pulposus (the filling of your disc) will center itself.
2. Water and nutrient can exchange can happen in the disc.
3. Collagen, the body's healing protein, will form and begin repair of the cracks and fissures in the annular fibrosis (the cartilaginous exterior layers of the disc)

If you can train your muscles and your brain to keep your spine elongated, then maybe you shouldn't take up a career in moving furniture, but you should be able to live a normal, pain-free life.

My L5-S1 disc has very little height to it (it herniated two large fragments into the spinal canal, then in the surgery to remove the two fragments some more of the content of the disc was "dug" out to prevent further herniation, it nevertheless had a repeat herniation which was never surgically addressed) but it doesn't affect my life in any tangible way. No pain, no diminished function except that I've decided a career in furniture moving is not for me.

It is crazy that back pain is increasingly an affliction of the very young, even teenagers. Fortunately, the body is incredibly resilient and you can bounce back from almost anything - but you do have to learn how to get out of your own way!

Don't despair - just do your homework...
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