Degenerative Disc Disease Q & A
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease at all but a condition marked by age-related changes to your spine. Most of your vertebrae are cushioned by rubbery discs made of a fibrocartilaginous substance.
These discs have a firm outer layer and an inner layer of a gel-like consistency. Your intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers and support the flexibility that enables you to walk, bend, stretch, and move in general.
As much as one-fourth of the length of your spinal column is made up of your intervertebral discs. Over time, those discs wear down and can’t provide the same level of protection they did when you were younger.
What are the Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease?
The most common symptom is sharp pain along your back or neck. The pain can be constant, and can also be incredibly disruptive. Additional symptoms include pain that:
- Comes and goes over time
- Worsens when you sit, lift, bend, or twist
- Improves when you stand, lie down, or move around
- Is situated in your upper thighs, buttocks, or lower back
You might also experience sensations of numbness or tingling in your legs or arms.
How is Degenerative Disc Disease Treated?
Your treatment is based on your overall health, the severity of your symptoms, and your treatment goals. Medication can help control pain and ease swelling. Some drugs also help reduce muscle spasms.
Physical therapy can also be helpful in treating degenerative disc disease. Targeted exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your back, which can lessen pain and prevent many common back injuries and strains.
Steroid injections can also be effective. These shots help to reduce the swelling and ease the pain. They aren’t a long-term solution, however, and will wear off over time.
Neurostimulation is another option and works by directing light electrical waves to your spinal cord. That electricity changes the way pain signals are communicated between your spine and brain.
These are just some of the treatments that can help address the pain of degenerative disc disease. To explore these and other treatments, call the office nearest you today.