Timeline of Degenerative Disc Disease Pain

Patient

Q: I am currently 36 years old and I have been battling lumbar degenerative disc disease and facet arthritis for over six years now (four levels). This disqualifies me for disc replacement surgery as well as a spinal fusion, so I have been relying on epidural injections and radio frequency ablations to keep me going. Although I know there is no cure for spinal arthritis, I hear that the pain from degenerated discs improves over time because the inflammatory proteins eventually burn out. Is this true, and if so, how long does this process take?

Symptoms:  Painful transitioning from sitting to standing, some discomfort sitting or standing for long periods
Doctor

A:   Thank you for your question. There is some truth to this notion. It is not that the inflammatory mediators become depleted, is that your body develops tolerance to their presence, thus you feel less pain. There is no telling as to when this will happen, and if you are on analgesic medications which inhibit the function, or production of these inflammatory mediators, it may take a long time. It is important to be closely monitored by your doctor while you are suffering from this condition. Modification of your pain medication can greatly assist in managing your pain, while minimizing any side effects.

Thank you for consulting AskTheDoctor.com

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