Yesterday, when talking to the doctor about proceeding with an MRI, he mentioned that perhaps we were going to find degenerative disc disease. This option is obviously better than the C word, but it still sounds pretty scary.
I’ve done just a touch of research and DDD sounds like an extremely good candidate for what I have going on, according to the symptoms and description of pain. The other good news is that – if this is the case – DDD is nothing near so terrible as it sounds. Two out of three words in the title are misleading. The condition is neither degenerative (in the continual sense) nor a disease. (So what braniac gave it that stupid name anyhow?) Most simply put, it just means that you’ve got damage in a disc and it has not been caused by any particular trauma. A slight twist may have done it, or it may have been accumulative stress on the disc. Largely, it’s considered a perfectly “natural” situation to arise with aging (Wanh!), hence the word degenerative. (Interestingly, it is much more common in 30-40 year olds than the over 60. See link below for details.) It does not indicate a condition that will continually worsen. Better, the pain has more to do with nerve location and the disc’s inability to repair itself than with degree of damage. With DDD, very slight damage can = very big pain.
If DDD is the case, it is also treatable. Of course, this is still conjecture until the MRI gets done, so I won’t get crazy with details. We may get luckier yet and have it be something even more repairable, but if you’re interested in DDD info for your own reasons, this article gives a great layman’s overview.