Does FMS make degenerative disc disease worse?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Peace77, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. Peace77

    Peace77 New Member

    My aching back!!!!!!!!!! As some of you may know I had to go to ER Sat. I couldn't walk and couldn't roll over in bed. If I sit, it's nearly impossible to get up. I have bulging disc at L4,5 and 6 and DDD in the lumbar spine as well as an annular tear. I cannot sit in my office chair because it makes it almost impossible to get up. I can't sit any where. The dr. is ordering me a cane and an MRI.

    My question is does FMS make DDD worse? I think it does because with FM the muscles tighten so tight they put more pressure on the bones. A pain specialist told me the FMS goes along with arthritis.

    I had some lower back pain before my FM but after I got FM my back problems got increasingly worse. Now I can't walk for about 2 hours when I get up, and only with a lot of pain meds.

    After I get my MRI I will consider treatment. I'm curious about traction from chiropractor. Should I go back to pain clinic for shots?

    Let me know about your lower back problems and if you think your FMS made your back pain worse, not just feel worse but actually degenerate???????

  2. homesheba

    homesheba New Member

    it sure seems like it does.
    as for my self-
    with the discs messed up in my neck-
    right now i am hurting so bad
    i want to cry but i would only hurt more.
    pain meds wont really get rid of the pain enough
    so there is no used to sneaking in another.
    . sigh.
    i suppose they will opt for surgery
    but i dont even want someone cutting into my neck
    and maybe it wouldnt even help
    or maybe it would be worse!
  3. PVLady

    PVLady New Member

    I believe it does make fibro worse. My mom had fibro all her life. She passed away on April 4th at age 93. These past decades was a battle to control the back pain and her fibro. The doctors would get frustrated when asking where the pain was because sometimes it was all over, or seemed ot be roving.

    Years back when she was really flaring I would have her go to bed and give her massages and just rest. She would eventually feel better. I was a nurse at the time and knew about massage.

    As she grew older I was her advocate for pain treatment. We found a great pain doctor who took care of her for many years.

    He was great about combining many different pain meds to get good pain relief. At one time he had her on the following:

    low dose cortisone
    Neurontin 4 X day
    Soma 2 X day as needed and bedtime was one of the doses.
    Lortabs 4 X day
    Darvocette for breakthrough pain - as needed
    Lidoderm patches - one every 2-3 days

    There were others I can't remember now. What I liked was he saw her every month and was quick to try other combinations if the pain was getting worse. It is all "trial and error"

    You can't just take one medication like Lortabs and expect it to do the job. When they combine all the other meds, you take lower doses of everything, and just get better pain relief.

    It seems when you try to treat with one drug only you run into tolerance problems which happened once to my mom.

    My mom also had bulging discs. For pain I would look at Lidoderm pain patches, my mom said they really helped.

    Also, the drugs I mentioned.

    Has anyone looked at spinal decompression therapy? I would check it out before jumping to surgery.
    [This Message was Edited on 07/29/2008]
  4. Doober

    Doober New Member

    think it does.

    Over the past few years with a few MRI's it was determined that I have 3 disk that are affected by DDD. I have had a severe nagging pain in my mid back between the shoulder blades few a few weeks now and it is not a muscle. I actually feel the clicking in my neck and back in the spine area.

    So, I called my DR and got in to see them. They gave be a muscle relaxer to see if it will help (They also said "it is most likely the muscle in the area").

    I mean, we know when it is a muscle bothering us and this did NOT feel like a muscle. This was making my arms tingle and feel out of sorts.

    Anyways, they send me for an x-ray. Of my chest even after I questioned the script.

    Found out the results of my x-ray. Lungs are clear. That is great except I was not complaining about this. Now they want me to go and have my back and spine x-ray'd.

    You just can't win these days I guess. In fact, I may be refusing any bills related to the first x-rays because this was not the reason for going and my lungs were very clear when they listened before sending me.

    I am certainly not a high maintainance person, but I loathe going to the DR twice for the same thing for them to get it right.
  5. steach

    steach Member

    I, too, have disc problems; I forget which numbers they are in the lumbar area.

    I woke-up one morning and tried to get out of bed- I was in tears and horrible pain. Since I have a history of back problems, I called my chiropractor (who I think knows more than most doctors!)and he sent me directly to the hospital for x-rays.

    After leaving the hospital, I went directly to his office. He got a verbal report from the hospital and did an exam. He diagnosed me with lumbar disc syndrom/bulging discs.

    As PVlady mentioned, I went through decompression treatments. My insurance would not pay and I had to finance through a medical company. I don't think I'd be walking now if I hadn't had the treatments. I was in sooooo much pain- even pain medicine didn't help much. After a few treatments, I started to get relief. After a few more, I was almost pain free; by the following week, I felt "normal" again.

    My PCP wanted to send me to see a neurosurgeon for an eval and possible surgery. I'm so glad that I opted for the decompression treatments.

    Just a bit of info about the decompression therapy- for lumbar or cervical!

    The decompression tables are based upon NASA and the space program and the astronauts.

    The lumbar table- has straps on it to hold your body in place. It slowly starts to strech the body from the waist down. It streches to move/open the vertabre to allow blood and oxygen flow to the discs -and- to alleviate the pressure on a bulging disc, thus, allowing it to return to normal size. This happens with a series of treatments- it is a process. With compressed discs, it allows them to expand to return to normal size. By taking pressure off the nerves, the pain stops!!!

    Finally, my opinion about whether or not FM makes disc disorders worse- I do believe it does. If FM, Lupus, MS, Diabetes, Arthritis, Hypo/Hyperthyrodism, etc., are autoimmune disorders, some which are "cousins" of others, then a correlation has to exist. I think it is like a domino effect. How many of us have FM and some other autoimmune disorder that is co-existent? This is only my personal opinion, though- maybe I'm out in "left field"!

    You can research "lumbar decompression therapy" online. Please keep us up-dated with what happens.

    Wishing you the best,
  6. Peace77

    Peace77 New Member

    Thank you, ladies for responding. I want to address each of your comments:

    bdtmu516: I have had PT on my back and would be open to that again. Only problem is they push you so hard at first.

    What did your MRI say? I am going for an X-Ray today (per insurance requirements, then I can get my updated MRI.

    Jeerie: Yes, I realize FMS amplifies our pain centers but I'm thinking more along the lines that the tight constricting muscles actually damage the bones where they are constricting.

    As for what you are saying: My surgeon said he would much prefer to operate on a nonfibro. patient because FMS patient's muscles tighten and get swollen. That's what he told me yesterday, because I have a torn rotator cuff tendon which I can have operated on if I want, but it is not urgent. I opt. not to have it right now for that very reason, it would make the pain much worse. Also the recovery time is like 6 months.

    Homesheba: What a cute name. I know what you mean you want to cry because the pain hurts so bad, it is what I did before I went to ER. Consider going, they might put you on medrol pack like me. I got a delaudid shot and a tordal shot, and 16 percocettes. The percocettes are the only thing that can get me out of the bed when I'm at my stiff and sorest.

    And I know how the pain pills don't work. It all depends on what you do that amplifies or diminishes the pain. The morning is worse because I've laid still all night...and it takes me 2 hours to get limbered up. Next, sitting is hard for me, it seems to compress my tail bone. I think my problems have to do with compression.

    pvlady: That is so cool your Mom lived to 93! That gives me hope that we can live a long live. I checked out your profile and saw you've had FM for 20+ years. I regard what you say very highly. You mentioned decompresion therapy? Could you elaborate on that. As I think my condition has a lot to do with encroachment or compression. Is this something you go to chiropractor for?

    It is wonderful that you massaged your mother and were her advocate. You know all the pain meds you listed? And you said you can develop a tolerance? The only thing I'm allowed to take is Ultram up to 300mgs. per day. It is my PCP who gives it to me and I do love her, but anything else I have to schedule at the Pain Clinic. Our pain clinic near me doesn't prescribe pain medicine for chronic pain, only if you have skeletal damage. And probably only if you have sciatica along with back ache. My sciatica is not affected right now and I don't want to say it is just to get pain meds. I want to find out the real cause here. Like I said I think it has something to do with compression and degeneration.

    You commented you think DDD makes Fibro. worse, but what about the other way around. I'm thinking the muscle tightness we get from FM does actual damage to our discs. I know a chiropractor said something like that.

    Doesn't it make sense to you gals though? These muscles get so tight and sometimes unbelievably tight that I think it affects the degeneration of the discs.

    I appreciate any and all comments. Just got my cane today and I am going to hobble over to PT/lab/x-ray center which is like three houses down from my house. I have looked at all your profiles and you're a great bunch, some were old timers. Thanks again for your help,

    Gentle Hugs,
  7. coolma

    coolma New Member

    My specialist insists FM IS degenerative disc disease. They are one and the same. The "effects" from it are so far reaching though, they affect the muscles, the organs, etc., because the nerves are all connected to the spine. The term "central nervous system disorder" also applies. And it all ties back to the spine.
  8. Peace77

    Peace77 New Member

    so your specialist said FM is degnerative disc disease. I believe it. I can barely sit here to write because sitting is causing me the worse pain. Am interested in decompression treatments but doubt ins. would pay for it.

    I had XRay done today and have to wait two days for results and then and only then will they order an MRI. Meanwhile my life is on hold and I'm in excruciating pain. I'm sure many can't believe this., not people here, others in my life.

    I got a cane today. I'm just so angry and depressed. Angry at dr. who is making me wait forever, and depressed because I can't do anything, and can't socialize at all.

    Since my discs started to go and after having FM, my discs have gotten worse. I have bulging and DDD in both lumbar and cervical spine. When I move my neck I can hear the crunching sounds, scary.

    I'll be checking back, thank you for your support.

    I really believe I have a compression fracture because the pain is unbearable to sit.
  9. sunflowerxo

    sunflowerxo New Member

    I was wondering that myself as I had a back injury 3 years ago and shortly after that started experiencing all the FM symptoms but never knew until recently a few months ago. I have 5 bulging discs and L5-S1 facet joint arthropathy. I responded to 1 out of 3 shots and think I may not pursue anymore. I have back pain moderate-to-severe daily and cannot take narcotics but Tylenol Arthritis just takes a tiny edge off and definately not enough at all. FM definately makes my lower back spasm, pain and ripping tightness much worse and sometimes severe pain. I just purchased a TENS unit a week ago and am trying that once a day for 1/2 hour which seems to help a little. I also do warm water stretching and walking as I cannot do these on the floor at all because of tightness and lack of flexibility. I'm not sure if FM makes degeneration worse but my FM was brought on by it.
  10. BlueSky555

    BlueSky555 New Member

    I believe they are connected; no punt intended. I have FM and DDD. I'm not sure which begin first but also have anxiety/nerve problems.

    I've had 2 cervical fusions and now I have L2,3,4,5,S1 problems and buldging discs, and annular tear.

    It's tough trying to sit and stand at home every day. I know what you are going through.

    Good luck,


  11. PVLady

    PVLady New Member

    Sorry I did not respond sooner.... here is info the website on spinal decompression. I included info on "diffuse cervical bulge" and "degenerative disc disease".

    Apparently, both these conditions can be treated by spinal decompresison therapy. I understand you go to the doctor's office for about 8 treatments. You might want to check the following website and call them to get a recommended doctor.

    Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression is a revolutionary new technology used primarily to treat disc injuries in the neck and in the low back.

    This treatment option is very safe and utilizes FDA cleared equipment to apply distraction forces to spinal structures in a precise and graduated manner.

    Distraction is offset by cycles of partial relaxation. This technique of spinal decompression therapy, that is, unloading due to distraction and positioning, has shown the ability to gently separate the vertebrae from each other, creating a vacuum inside the discs that we are targeting. This "vacuum effect" is also known as negative intra-discal pressure.

    The negative pressure may induce the retraction of the herniated or bulging disc into the inside of the disc, and off the nerve root, thecal sac, or both. It happens only microscopically each time, but cumulatively, over four to six weeks, the results are quite dramatic.

    The cycles of decompression and partial relaxation, over a series of visits, promote the diffusion of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids from the outside of the discs to the inside. These nutrients enable the torn and degenerated disc fibers to begin to heal.

    For the low back, the patient lies comfortably on his/her back or stomach on the decompression table, with a set of nicely padded straps snug around the waist and another set around the lower chest.

    For the neck, the patient lies comfortably on his/her back with a pair of soft rubber pads behind the neck. Many patients enjoy the treatment, as it is usually quite comfortable and well tolerated.

    Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression is very effective at treating bulging discs, herniated discs, pinched nerves, sciatica, radiating arm pain, degenerative disc disease, leg pain, and facet syndromes.

    Proper patient screening is imperative and only the best candidates are accepted for care. Please go to the “Find a Physician” link to find a doctor in your area. You may also want to fill out the “Web Physician Consult” form to determine whether you are a candidate for this safe and effective treatment option.


    Diffuse Cervical Bulge

    This is a common term you may encounter reading your MRI report. Diffuse cervical bulge means a generalized disc bulge of one of spinal discs of the neck (cervical spine). This bulging material may contact or "pinch" the thecal sac or nerve roots.

    There are a variety of symptoms in a case like the one above. Some people may experience little to no discomfort, while others may have severe radicular pain, which travels to the shoulder blade, down the arm and into the hand or fingers. Some people may experience numbness and tingling of the arms and hands.

    Sometimes your MRI reports may mention certain words or phrases that are confusing. We will go over some of the common ones.

    You may read "moderate disc desiccation with intervertebral disc space narrowing”.
    Desiccation refers to the state of extreme dryness. In biology, desiccation refers to the drying out of a living organism or tissue.

    This is a loss of water from the intervertebral disc. In a dehydrated environment, the disc will have a hard time trying to heal.

    Intervertebral disc space narrowing refers to the disc in between the spinal bones, which is beginning to lose material and substance. It is degenerating or "collapsing".

    You may read "mild posterior osteophytes centrally impress on the ventral thecal sac”.
    Posterior refers to the back. It is an anatomical descriptive term.

    Impress means to indent or affect. Ventral refers to the front, the opposite of posterior. Thecal sac is the outer covering of the spinal cord.

    This means there are bone spurs on the back of the spinal bones, putting pressure on or affecting the front part of the outer layer of the (neck) cervical spinal cord.

    You may read "There is mild effacement of the cervical cord. There is mild to moderate narrowing of the right neural foramina and lateral recess”.

    Effacement means obliterating or erasing while right neural to the Intervertebral foramen: an opening between vertebrae through which nerves leave the spine and extend to other parts of the body.

    Lateral recess is a descriptive term of the foramen. Here we have some erasing of the cervical cord in the image or picture. This is usually from the herniation of the disc tissue or from bone spurs.

    Also we have some narrowing of the opening between spinal bones, through which the nerves exit the spine. This is not indicating what is causing the narrowing, but it could be due to disc herniation or bony overgrowth (bone spurs).

    This information contained in is not designed to replace a physician's/healthcare provider's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient. Always consult your doctor about your conditions or back problems


    Degenerative Disc Disease

    is a gradual process that occurs as we age. Gradually the water and protein content of the body's cartilage changes.

    Sometimes this process is accelerated due to heavy occupational demands such as repetitive bending and twisting, heavy lifting, or accident and injury. These changes can result in weaker and thinner cartilage.

    Because both the discs and the joints (facet joints) are composed of cartilage, these areas are subject to wear and tear over time (degenerative changes). This gradual deterioration of the discs between the vertebrae (back bones) is referred to as degenerative disc disease.

    These changes usually occur long before you can see them on X-rays or other imaging techniques.

    What is happening is the progression of wear and tear of the discs and the weakening of protein (collagen) of the outer band of the disc (annulus fibrosis) causing a structural and biomechanical change of the disc.

    Furthermore, water and proteoglycan (PG) content decreases. PGs are molecules that behave like super sponges and can bind and attract water hundreds of times their own molecular weight.

    “Disc desiccation” is a term used to describe the proteoglycan content decreasing and loss of water in the discs (dehydration). This very well may be a term you read on your MRI report.

    This process severely affects the "shock absorbing" properties of the discs as they "compress" under normal pressure.

    These changes usually occur at the same time as the annulus fibrosis degenerates and generally leads to the disc’s inability to handle mechanical stress. Because the lumbar spine carries a large portion of the body’s weight, degeneration of the disc tissue makes the disc more susceptible to herniate and can cause local pain in the affected area.

    Disc degeneration can sometimes lead to disorders such as spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), spondylolisthesis (forward slippage of the disc and vertebra), and retrolisthesis (backward slippage of the disc and vertebra).


    Although symptoms are variable from person to person, most patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease will experience low-grade continuous but tolerable pain that will occasionally flare (intensify) for a few days or more. Pain symptoms can vary, but generally are:

    Centered on the lower back, although it can radiate to the hips and legs
    Frequently worse when sitting, as the discs experience a heavier load than when patients are standing, walking or even lying down.

    Exacerbated by certain movements, particularly bending or twisting.

    Although degenerative disc disease is relatively common in aging adults, it seldom requires surgery. When medical attention is warranted, the majority of patients respond well to non-operative forms of treatment like chiropractic manipulative therapy, physical therapy, or Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression therapy.

    [This Message was Edited on 08/11/2008]
  12. coolma

    coolma New Member

    Be careful with the spine. As my specialist explained to me, and in diagram, if you have repeatedly done damage to your discs over your lifetime (sports, falls, accidents, etc.) they only can heal to a certain extent. She prescribed alot of rest, with intermittent light exercise, like a 20 minute walk for YEARS. I got a great deal better with her advice. Know that if discs have been damaged and redamaged, the degree to which they can reheal themselves is limited.
    Also, surgury may have short term gain, but the long term effects are in great doubt. That's according to her.
    By the way, she has a video tape which she made outlining all of this.
    Her name is Dr. Frances Leung, 855 Broadview Avenue, Suite 202, Toronto, Ontario M4K 3Z1, Tel. 416-462-1220. You can get a copy of her video from her office. It will help you immensely.
  13. colorfulcolorado

    colorfulcolorado New Member

    Yes, I have both plus arthritis now. The pain reallllly hurts like heck! I will never get another spinal surgery ever again! When I blew out a disc and got an MRI they found degenerative disks, half way up spine, so I had the fusion, that didn't work. Was diagnosed with fibro 5 years later and just about a month ago had another MRI and they found arthritis in my spine. So, I'm just having loads of fun! Went to the races here in Colorado and been in bed for 2 days. I wasn't even sitting in the stands, I was with the racers- nice comfortable lawn chair etc. and now I can hardly move. But we finally got some rain-much needed! So, that has something to do with it. If I had to do it all over again I would have never had the surgery!