Hello friends,

I am 67 years old and have enjoyed 10+ years of having my j pouch with very few issues and almost no episodes of pouchitis.  My life is most definitely better and I have not been a frequent visitor to this site in the last few years (I remember that is common for many of us "post UC."

Over the past year, I have had severe back and neck pain.  MRIs have revealed degenerative discs.  Physical therapy, traction, and steroid shots have not helped much.  A visit today to a neurosurgeon was the next step.  The doctor did not think I am ready for surgery (a relief) and indicated arthritis and degenerative disc disease are synonymous. 

It seems when I was a regular visitor to this site that arthritis was a common problem.  For those of you who have suffered or are still suffering, any recommendations are greatly appreciated.  Thanks and blessings to all! 

Original Post

I have degenerative disks and arthritis in my lower back that resulted after being hit by a car in a crosswalk.  I had a comprehensive examination by a neurosurgeon at the local medical college who detailed what surgery might be effective for my condition. She said the surgery was brutal, required a long recovery time and could possibly produce positive results in about 50% of the time.  Bottom line: don’t do it.  Instead, she said I should stay active, do activities and exercises that keep my core muscles strong (they support the back) and lift objects properly. I was advised to not use a corset or back support since that would not allow my muscles to stay strong.  That was over 20 years ago, and I have led a normal life, including heavy lifting with caution.  I recommend the exercises and staying active, but follow your doctor’s advice about lifting.  Also, sleep on an extra firm mattress.

Degenerative disc disease isn’t really a synonym for arthritis (which can affect any joint in the body), but understanding the condition as a kind of arthritis is reasonable. Some of these changes, however unpleasant, have no good treatments. That’s the case with the arthritis in my hands: steroids would help with the arthritis but would do more harm than good overall. OTOH when a single disc in my lumbar spine ruptured it was worthwhile (and essential) that I get it surgically repaired. Since the problem was limited to the disc, the procedure was fairly straightforward and the recovery rapid. Often the trigger that pushes surgery is if motor functions (e.g. muscle strength) are affected. Back surgery gets much trickier if the bones have to be messed with (usually fused): the recovery is more difficult and the outcome is less certain.

Good luck! I hope it gets mysteriously better for no obvious reason.

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