Degenerative Disc Disease
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative Disc Disease is a chronic and often painful condition. This
condition happens when one or more of the vertebral discs (cushions between
the vertebrae) become damaged and weakened and no longer work as shock
absorbers for the movement of the spine.
Degenerative disc disease can be a result of the natural aging process
or by injury to the back at any age. It begins when small tears appear
in the disc wall. The tears cause pain in the back at the site of the
tear. Gradually the the tears heal, causing scar tissue to form. This
scar tissue is not as strong as the original disc wall. Over time, the
disc weakens and the nucleus of the disc becomes damaged and loses some
of it's water content.
As the nucleus of the disc continues to lose it's water content, the
disc itself is unable to act as a shock absorber. And, without the shock
absorber, the vertebrae above and below the damaged disc start to slide
together and in turn the facet joints (areas where the vertebral bones
touch), twist into an unnatural position. Eventually bone spurs may form,
which, if left untreated can lead to spinal stenosis (pinching of the
spinal cord and sciatic nerve).
Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
- Back pain - strong pain may come and go
- Pain, numbness or tingling in the legs (sciatica)
- Pain may worsen when bending, twisting, lifting or sitting
- Lying down may relieve pain (lying with a pillow under the knees or lying
on a recliner - since these positions relieve the stress on the lumbar
- Walking or running may actually feel better than prolonged sitting or standing
- Patients will tend to feel better when changing positions frequently
Non-Surgical or Conservative Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease
- Pain medication (acetaminophen, NSAIDs, oral steroids, narcotic drugs,
and muscle relaxants)
- Epidural injections
- Physical therapy & exercise
Surgical Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease
- Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)
- Artifical disc replacement surgery
- Minimally invasive spine surgery
- Spinal Fusion
Schedule an appointment with a
spine doctor at Newport Orthopedic Institute today to ensure you receive a proper diagnosis
and receive evidence-based treatment options for your back pain.