Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease

What is degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease is not really a disease but rather a problem in which the degenerating disc causes discomfort. This discomfort can range from annoying to debilitating. As people age, their spinal discs generally wear down. Not everyone, however, will develop degenerative disc disease. This is a condition in which a damaged disc generates discomfort, but it is not considered a sickness. This illness has a wide range of symptoms and severity.

The disc may dry up as a result of age, everyday activities, sports, and accidents. Disc replacement, other surgical treatments, and non-surgical choices such as acupuncture, back braces, and pain management are all options to relieve pain caused by degenerative disc disease.

What Are Spinal Discs?

The discs are shock absorbers for the spine's bones, and their purpose is to assist the back stay flexible while resisting tremendous forces in a variety of directions. Each disc has two components:

  • The anulus fibrosus is a tough outer layer. Nerves are located in the outside portion of this layer. If this region of the disc tears, it can become quite unpleasant.
  • The nucleus pulposus is a jelly-like center. The proteins in this portion of the disc may cause tissues they touch to get swollen and painful. If these proteins escape into the nerve layer of the disc, they can lead to severe pain.

The disc has a very limited blood supply, unlike other body organs. Once a disc is damaged, it is unable to heal itself; and a spiral of deterioration can develop with three periods that appear to take 20 to 30 years:

  • Moving the back is difficult with acute discomfort.
  • The fractured bone becomes highly unstable. The patient will have recurring back pain over a long period.
  • The injured portion of the back is restored. The patient experiences more minor back discomfort.

What causes degenerative disc disease?

Degeneration of discs can be caused by various factors, including age. The following are some examples:

  • The disc drying up. The disc is approximately 80% water in newborns. The disc dries out as we grow older, and it does not absorb impacts as well.
  • Back pain is caused by everyday chores and sports, which tear the outer disc core. By the age of 60, most people have some level of disc degeneration. Back discomfort isn't always experienced until later in life.
  • Excess strain and pressure on the back can lead to back discomfort characterized by inflammation, soreness, and instability. This might cause lower back pain.

Signs and Symptoms of degenerative disc disease

The term "degenerative disc disease" refers to a condition in which a damaged disc causes pain. Degenerative disc disease affects people of all ages, although it is more likely to affect those in their 30s or 40s who are otherwise healthy and active.

These are some of the most common symptoms of this problem:

  • While sitting, the lower back discs have three times more pressure on them than when standing, and the pain is worse.
  • Pain that worsens when bending, lifting, or twisting.
  • When you walk or run for long periods instead of sitting or standing for lengthy amounts of time, you feel considerably better.
  • Decreased pain when changing positions or lying down.
  • A continuing, severe pain that comes and goes. These can range from minor discomfort to unbearable pain, lasting between a few days to a few months before subsiding. Nagging ache to the point of incapacitation is among the possible types of suffering. Depending on where the damaged disc is situated and how it radiates into the arms and hands,
  • Numbness and tingling in the extremities.
  • Leg muscle weakness or foot drop, which a nerve root injury might cause.

How is degenerative disc disease diagnosed?

A doctor will evaluate everything from your medical history to your physical examination and symptoms, as well as the circumstances in which you began suffering. Disc damage may be detected by magnetic resonance imaging, but it alone cannot confirm degenerative disc disease.

How is degenerative disc disease treated?

Treatment options include:

  • Artificial disc replacement
  • Surgical intervention
  • Acupuncture, back braces, and pain management treat symptoms nonoperatively.

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