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Thursday, April 4, 2024

Proposing a Name Change for Degenerative Disc Disease: Toward Clarity and Compassion in Diagnosis

# Proposing a Name Change for Degenerative Disc Disease: Toward Clarity and Compassion in Diagnosis

### By Marie Seshat Landry

The language we use in the medical community doesn't just shape professional discourse; it profoundly affects patient perceptions, treatment compliance, and overall well-being. Today, I'm addressing a terminology that, while clinically accurate, may not fully encapsulate the patient experience or the nature of the condition itself: **Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)**. I propose we transition to a more descriptive and less alarming term: **Intervertebral Disc Degradation (IDD)**.

#### **Rationale Behind the Change**

**Degenerative Disc Disease** — this term carries with it an inherent weight, suggesting an irreversible and progressive condition. The word "degenerative" implies a continuous decline, while "disease" often connotes something contagious or inherently pathological. For patients, this diagnosis can be a source of unnecessary fear and anxiety, overshadowing the potential for effective management and adaptation.

**Intervertebral Disc Degradation (IDD)**, on the other hand, provides a clearer picture of the condition's nature without the emotional burden. Here's why this change is necessary:

##### **1. Accuracy in Description**

IDD more accurately describes the condition's primary process — the natural wear and tear or degradation of the spinal discs. It emphasizes the physical changes without implying an inevitable worsening of the condition.

##### **2. Elimination of Fear**

The term "degradation" acknowledges the condition's seriousness without instilling undue fear. By removing the term "disease," we can help alleviate the initial emotional response and encourage a more hopeful outlook towards management and treatment.

##### **3. Encouraging Proactive Management**

By framing IDD as a condition rather than a disease, we can foster a more proactive approach to management. It highlights the potential for intervention and improvement through physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and, when necessary, medical procedures.

#### **The Impact of Language on Patient Care**

Language shapes reality. The terms we choose can either empower patients or leave them feeling helpless. By adopting IDD, we can contribute to a more compassionate and accurate narrative around spinal health — one that emphasizes the potential for living well despite the condition.

#### **Call to Action**

I urge my colleagues in the medical and research communities to consider the impact of our words on patient care and outcomes. Let's adopt terminology that reflects the true nature of the conditions we diagnose and treat, starting with the transition from DDD to IDD. Together, we can pave the way for a healthcare environment that prioritizes not only physical health but psychological well-being.

In embracing IDD, we're not just changing a name; we're taking a significant step towards more empathetic patient care. It's a change that recognizes the complexity of human health, the importance of clear communication, and the profound impact of our words. Let's lead with compassion and clarity, for the benefit of our patients and our profession.

*Marie Seshat Landry is an advocate for health communication reform, with a focus on aligning medical terminology with patient understanding and well-being.*


**Marie Seshat Landry**
*CEO & OSINT Spymaster*

**Contact Information:**
* Email: marielandryceo@gmail.com
* Website: www.marielandryceo.com
* Location: Moncton, Canada

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