Degenerative Disc Disease

I'm 34 and have been running pretty consistently for the last twenty years. In high school, I ran the 2 mile (10:20ish), mile (4:40), and the half mile (1:58). I played outdoor soccer in the fall, indoor soccer in the winter and ran track in the spring. Throughout college and since then, I'm remained active playing soccer and running 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons. I typically run 30-40 miles a week and can still run a sub 5:30 mile. Having hurt my back a month ago, I decided to go to a back specialist. X-rays were taken. A hot nurse practitioner felt me up and then I was told that I have DDD in my third lowest disc. I'm not sure how much I'm going to be able to run and/or play soccer in the future. The back pain is immense and it tightens up even while sitting. Anyone else in the same boat? Suggestions?
Inman Inman
31-35, M
15 Responses Jan 22, 2008

Inman, are you still running & playing soccer?

I have DDD and its bad at L3/L4, L4/L5 and in 2010 I had to have a diskectomy at L5/S1. I am still really active, two ski trips this year (whistler & big sky), go to the gym 3-4 times a week etc.

The two biggest setbacks since the injury have been golf and running. Can't fully complete my swing after about 9 holes anymore and my lower back seizes up after about 3 miles these days. However, I have played soccer and tennis without issue...I think the breaks between sprints helps tremendously.

Personally, I try to put an additional 20 mins into my core workout and stretching to build the muscles around my traitorous spine and keep truckin' in every sporting activity I enjoy. I haven't slowed down and until I break again, which is likely inevitable according to my doc, I don't intend to. Cross that bridge when I get there. Life is too short to give up the things you love walking on eggshells trying to avoid injury. I should also point out that with this attitude I fully expect to have a fused spine in the coming which point my golf swing is going to suck a little more but I will still be in the terrain parks every winter and the course every summer.

Hi, im a crossfiter and also being diagnosed with ddd recently, im 24 and i was told to change sport for something with less impact and never lift something heavy again. I keep doing crossfit but i just reduce the weight lifting part, so i just lift light weights less often and with some care.

I am a 35 year old distance trail runner and have been running since I was 12. I was diagnosed by an MRI with DDD and a herniated L3- L4 disc a year ago, so for the past year I have been following all orders by swimming, core strengthing, ect... and did not introduce the running back into my schedule until 6 months after the diagnosis. Now a year later, I am in just as much pain but now with 3 herniated discs. I have been told to stop running but I find that it actually makes me feel better. I have only been able to run a couple of times a week with low intensity and only about 8 to 10km. This is only 20% of what I was able to do before all these back issues. I do want to maintain some easy running but really not sure what to do now. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Inman,<br />
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I'm a 24 year old 'weekend warrior' of sorts and have been diagnosed with DDD in my L4 for a couple months now. I got a cortisone shot to reduce the inflammation on my sciatic nerve, and have been trying to rehab my back by swimming, light weight lifting, and stretches.<br />
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I was wondering if you still kept tabs on this blog, and would very much appreciate someone to talk to about this since you've apparently been dealing with your DDD for a couple years now.<br />
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The doctors told me to stop all running (soccer/tennis/softball/etc) for basically he rest of my life. Frankly, this scares the **** out of me and I feel as though I might as well be paralyzed if I can't play sports.<br />
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Anyway, if you do happen to check this and wouldn't mind helping me out, please post a reply on here and I'll give you my contact information.<br />
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Thank you very much, and I certainly hope you've been successful in your rehabbing.<br />
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I'm a hang glider with a ruptured disc. L4 S1 has been #$%^ for the past 4 years. (I just found out that I need surgery, which is ok because I think it is really going to help me.) Physical therapy has helped me immensely. I wouldn't be the same without it.

I startd running in college and rediscovered it about a year ago. I run six days a week, 30-40 miles a week, so I know how addictive it can be. Maybe you can cut back on your mileage and add resistance training? I hope things turn out well for you.

I was diagnosed with DDD this week. I have two herniated discs and arthritis. Basically, I am a 26 y/o female, with the back of a 50 y/o. I'm having a hard time dealing with this. Have you found that you had to change your lifestyle completely? Did you get back into running? I'm mostly concerned that as I get older I'll be restricted. I can envision at 35 having to use a cane and this thought scares me.... I want to remain active...any helpful tips?

Don't contort things here. I'm just disc'n around.

No, we don't live close to each other. I was just joking. <br />
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I've only done yoga a couple of times but I'm thinking I should dedicate myself to it. I think it would do me good. <br />
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Would you teach me orchid?

thanks mster<br />
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I've been doing pilates with a bunch of older people and that's been a bit humbling since I'm used to doing whatever I want physically. Perhaps I can convince orchid or scarlet or Goldie to do some yoga with me. <br />
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Then again, what are the chances that a Doctor at a Spine Clinic know what she's talking about? :)<br />
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I've been running and playing soccer for 20 years and it just ****** me off to think I might not be able to do that anymore. It's been tough not doing it for the last two months.

That's so true! My husband has a ruptured disk, but has continued running, lifting weights, etc. He also is a former high school and college athlete (wrestling) and i don't think he could even imagine life without his daily routine. He also continues to teach Judo despite a rotator cuff injury and subsequent surgery. Yes, he has pain, and occasionally must force himself to take time off, but if he'd listened to the docs, he'd be in worse shape (mentally and physically!) than he is having just followed his usual regime. Athletes seem to develop a higher tolerance for pain! PS: WOW 4:40 mile? You rock!

Curlyone -- Now that I'm running again, I hate to think that I will ever have to give it up in the future. I know from stories that people can find ways to do things, even when the doctors are telling them they shouldn't.

yeah, it's just scary because for the last twenty years, running has been such a part of my daily life. <br />
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I need to give it some time to heal and do some yoga and swimming in the meantime. Thanks.

Don't completely rule out running, though. I thought my knees weren't meant for running. I went a long time believing that. But eventually, I learned that the problem is that my running form lead to knee pain. When I learned to run more efficiently, my knees and back improved tremendously.<br />
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Running doesn't have to be a high impact activity.

I'm a no soda guy anyway. I'll watch the artificial sweeteners, even the female version. :)<br />
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"My name is curlyone and I have DDD."<br />
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Sounds like a ***** problem.