Degenerative Disc Disease Causes, Common Symptoms, and Treatment Options
The discs between your spinal vertebrae withstand an incredible amount of torque and force. Things like injuries, aging, and long-term wear and tear can cause them to dry out and degenerate. If you experience back or neck pain from worn out discs, you may need treatment for degenerative disc disease. Read on to find out more about symptoms and degenerative disc disease treatment options.
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Common Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
Degenerative disc disease often affects people in their 30s and 40s. Most patients are active and healthy — except for ongoing pain. If you have any of these symptoms, you may need to seek degenerative disc disease treatment:.
- Pain that’s worse when you’re sitting down or standing
Sitting places a lot of pressure on spinal discs, and it can cause significant pain for people with damaged spinal discs. Many degenerative disc disease patients report feeling better when walking, running, or lying down as opposed to sitting or standing in one place.
- Intermittent pain that comes, lasts a while, goes away, and then returns
It’s usually tough to tie degenerative disc disease pain to a single cause. Patients may experience nagging discomfort for a few days or severe pain that can last for months.
- Increased pain when bending, twisting, or lifting
Reaching down to pick up an object, twisting to grab something behind you — these every day actions can cause serious pain when you need treatment for degenerative disc disease.
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in other parts of your body
Depending on where damaged discs are located, you may experience symptoms in your buttocks, legs, feet, arms, or hands. These symptoms may range from stabbing pains to “pins and needles” sensations. You may even feel some weakness in your legs and feet.
Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease
Spinal discs consist of a hard, rubbery outer layer and a soft, jelly-like inner layer. When the outer layer develops tears or cracks, some people experience significant degenerative disc disease lower back pain or neck pain.
Pain may come from the damaged disc itself. It may also come when the inner layer comes into contact with surrounding tissues, causing them to become swollen and inflamed. Some causes of degenerative disc disease include:
Unfortunately, as we age, spinal structures weaken and suffer more wear and tear. Spinal arthritis pain is most common in those ages 50 and older because of the stress that has been put on the spine throughout a lifetime, including poor posture.
- Daily activity or sports
Active people subject their spinal discs to more wear and tear. Although most people have some disc degeneration by age 60, only a few experience associated pain.
Injuries to your back or neck can result in swelling and instability. These can lead to more chronic degeneration of spinal discs.
Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease
When you schedule an appointment at the Heilman Center for Pain and Spine Care, your pain specialist will ask a series of questions to uncover the root cause of your pain. After performing a physical examination and ordering imaging studies, your pain specialist can make a diagnosis and start planning your treatment for degenerative disc disease.
Your pain specialist will develop a personalized treatment plan crafted to match your needs and your current conditioning. Some of the options we offer at the Heilman Center include:
Stretching and strengthening the muscles that support your spine can help to ease degenerative disc pain. If you’re an athlete, a physical therapist can help you modify your training regimen or teach you new ways to move that may ease back or neck pain.
Sometimes, injections or other interventional therapies can ease degenerative disc pain and swelling. Specially guided injections near discs can provide targeted medicine delivery.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
When other options won’t eliminate the source of your pain, surgery to repair or remove discs may be the best treatment option. This treatment should only be handled by an experienced spine surgeon.
Talk to a Pain Specialist about Degenerative Disc Disease
The Heilman Center for Pain and Spine Care offers the highest standard of care for patients who need degenerative disc disease treatment. Our highly experienced pain specialists deliver treatment in a hospital setting, using advanced diagnostic equipment and the most up-to-date, insurance-covered treatment options.