Degenerative Disc Disease

The debilitating of one or more vertebral discs, which usually function as a buffer in the middle of two vertebrae, is commonly called degenerative disc disease. This condition is one the most frequent causes of neck and lower back pain. This medical condition is usually attributed as a normal part of the aging process. Nevertheless, it can also be due to some form of back injury.

Understanding Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease usually starts when a small laceration appear in the disc panel, otherwise known as the annulus. These laceration or tears may result to pain and discomfort. As the laceration or tear heals, it creates a scar tissue that is normally as sturdy or durable as the native tissue. In the event that the back is frequently subjected to injury, the disc wall may continue to weaken and the procedure of scarring and tearing may also persist.

Over an extended period of time, the core (middle) of the disc gets damaged which results to the leaking of its water content. The pulposus or the core of the disc and its water content are essential to maintain the disc’s functionality as a cushion or spring for the spinal column.

When the core or the nucleus of the disc fails to act as a cushion, the center of the disc collapses. This results to the sliding closer or rubbing together of the two vertebrae. The incorrect arrangement results to the facet joints, the place where the vertebral bones meet to wring or rotate into an unusual posture.

Over time, this unusual posture of the vertebrae will form bone spurs. Should these bone spurs develop inside the spinal canal, it will narrow the canal resulting to the pinching of the spinal cord and nerves which is a condition also known as spinal stenosis.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of degenerative disc disease is pain in the back or neck. However, this a case-to-case basis as there are people who don’t experience pain. The pain may be mild to severe, to the extent that it already limits the person’s activities. The pain often gets worse when twisting, reaching up, bending over or other certain movements. 

If the disc affected is in the neck area, the pain may be felt in the neck down to the arm. If the affected disc is in the lower back, the pain is experienced in the back, which may radiate down to the buttocks and legs. 

Causes

The primary cause of degenerative disc disease is aging. As people age, the spinal discs naturally wear out and break down. This age-related cause includes loss of fluid in the disc. This makes the disc thinner and reduces the disc’s ability to act as natural shock absorber. This results in less flexible discs and narrowed distance between vertebrae, hence, the pain. Aging may also contribute to the development of tear or cracks in the annulus or outer layer of the disc. 

People who do heavy physical work are more likely to develop degenerative disc. Obese and smokers are also more prone to develop such disease. Other common cause of such condition is injury, such as a fall, which could lead to herniated disc. 

Treatment

Temporary treatment for the pain includes applying ice or heat and other home remedies. Pain medications are also resorted to. The common meds are acetaminophen or NSAIDs. Prescription medications may also be recommended. When taking meds, it is important that you follow what is prescribed.

If the degenerative disc disease is associated with other conditions such as spinal stenosis, herniated disc or osteoarthritis, you will need other treatments. The common treatment options include strengthening and stretching exercises, and physical therapy. In severe cases, treatment involves surgery and disc replacement. 

AZ Pain and Spine provides pain management solutions for degenerative disc disease. 

Why You Should Reach Out to AZ Pain and Spine

Degenerative disc disease is a pain-related condition. And when it comes to pain, you must only reach out to the specialists. AZ Pain and Spine specializes in providing cutting-edge pain management solutions to various conditions, including degenerative disc disease. 

You deserve to live a pain-free life. Make an appointment with us today.