Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative Disc Disease
What does degenerative disease mean?
Degenerative changes occurs in spinal discs and it is consider to be a normal part of aging. Degeneration occurs when there is wear down of discs. The main function of discs is to absorb the shock or jerk that happens when we move, bend or twist. Discs are basically the cushioning between the two vertebrae. When the cushion is damaged, vertebral bones rubs against each other and cause pain.
Who might get degenerative disease?
Degenerative disc disease is common in older adults. Few factors increases the risk of developing degenerative disease, including:
– Numbness / Tingling sensation to arms/ legs
– Radiating down to buttocks and low back area
– Worsening of pain in activities like standing, walking, sitting, bending or lifting.
Spinal discs wear down is a normal part of aging, many people experience degeneration taking place after the age of 40 years. However, not everyone experiences pain.
- Dry out: Discs contains water, which makes it soft and acts like a shock absorber. However, as the age increases, discs loses its water content and disc becomes thinner and fails to absorb shock as they use to do.
- Tear or crack: Injury to disc can be in the form of tear or crack. There are nerves present near the disc, if the outer border of disc is cracked open, it can cause the disc to bulge out known as “Herniated Disc” and can also pinch the nerve causing radiating pain to the limbs.
How degenerative disc pain feels like?
– Pain can be felt in the neck or lower back.
– Pain extend into the arms and hands or into the butt and legs.
– Pain can be mild, moderate or severe.
– Pain may be intermittent in nature (start & stop)
– Can get worse after activities of daily living like as bending, twisting or lifting.
– Can get worse over time.
Management and Treatment
We, at Physiocure strongly recommend non-invasive treatment option first. Here are few other techniques, depending upon the severity of pain.
Physical therapy: Our aim is to reduce the pain, we make use of various modalities and therapeutic exercises. Modalities include application of heat/cold, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), IFT (Interferential Therapy), US (Ultrasound). Exercise approach includes Mckenzie technique, core muscle strengthening and stabilization. Manual mobilization, Posture Correction and life style modification plays crucial role in treating degenerative disc pain
Medications: Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants or steroids. Use of steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain
If you have tried various non-invasive treatments and still have persistent/contant pain or weakness, then surgery may be a good option.
Few options for Surgery are:
– Discectomy: Removing a part of a spinal disc to relieve pressure on nerves.
– Foraminotomy: Enlarging the opening of nerve roots by removing tissue and bone.
– Laminectomy: Taking out a small portion of bone from spine (lamina).
– Osteophyte removal: Removing bone spurs (osteophytes).
– Spinal fusion: Connecting 2 or more vertebrae of spine.
Spinal disc disease can be prevented by daily exercises, aim to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Increase the strength and flexibility of muscles. Work hard on lifestyle modification.