Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative Disc Disease is a condition that can cause a lot of discomfort and pain for those who suffer from it. It affects the discs in the spine, which act as cushions between the bones in the spine and helps keep the spine flexible. As we age, these discs can wear down and develop bone spurs. The process can cause a wide range of symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and even limited mobility. It is especially common in adults over the age of 30 and can greatly impact their daily lives.
It’s worth noting that not everyone who has degenerative disc disease will experience pain. This is because the condition often progresses without causing symptoms, until it reaches a point where the disc has significantly worn down and the surrounding nerves become compressed or irritated, causing pain. Additionally, some people may have a higher pain tolerance or may not experience as much pain due to other factors such as overall health and physical condition. The degenerative inflammatory process can be a frustrating and debilitating condition, but there are treatment options available to help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.
Not every case of degenerative disc disease is the same. Because the discs deteriorate in different places and at different rates, the pain caused by this condition is different for every person. Common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:
- Back or neck pain
- Muscle soreness
- Joint tenderness
- Stiffness, loss of flexibility
- Tingling or numbness
Even though it can be frustrating, most of these symptoms can be treated without surgery. The key is to get your spine checked early on before the condition starts to impact your daily life.
To confirm a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease, doctors will use special tests like CT scans, an MRI, and X-rays to take pictures of the spine. These tests can show if there are any problems with the spine such as shrinkage, bone spurs, or other abnormalities. They can also show if there is extra pressure on the nerves or spinal cord. With the results from these tests, the doctor can figure out if you have this condition and what the best treatment plan for you would be.
Treatment for symptomatic degenerative disc disease can vary from person to person based on different factors. Some methods that have proven helpful include:
- Physical therapy: to help restore flexibility and strength to your spine and learn better movement habits.
- Spinal traction: stretching technique that can help if the nerves are being compressed by the shrinking vertebrae.
- Medicine: painkillers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatory drugs to help manage pain.
- Alternative Treatments: Acupuncture, behavioral modification therapy, deep tissue massage, gentle chiropractic care, and yoga have been reported to help manage the condition.
- Surgery: As a last resort, surgeries such as discectomy, percutaneous disc compression, or spinal fusion may be considered if the symptoms and progression of the disease warrant it.
It’s important to catch the condition early on so it can be managed, and you can maintain a normal lifestyle. It’s best to consult with your doctor to get a diagnosis and discuss possible solutions to alleviate the pain.