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Degenerative Disc Disease

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Patient suffering with Degenerative disc disease

There are many options for treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease from LA Pain Specialist.

Degenerative disc disease is a term utilized to describe the natural changes that occur in your spinal discs as you get older. Spinal discs are soft discs that separate the vertebrae in your spine. Your spinal discs are like shock absorbers and allow your spine to bend, twist, and flex.

  • Degenerative disc disease can occur anywhere in your spine
  • It’s most commonly seen in the lumbar region (lower back) or the cervical region (neck)

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Symptoms

Degenerative disc disease can cause back or neck pain. Pain in your lower back may affect your hips and buttocks while pain in your neck may radiate to your arms and hands. The pain can range from a dull nagging to severe and disabling. The pain may get worse when you’re sitting or when you lift, bend, or twist. You may also experience numbness in your extremities and weakness in your leg muscles.

Degenerative disc disease can also result in osteoarthritis, the breakdown of cartilage, the tissue that surrounds and cushions joints in your body. Degenerative disc disease can also cause spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal, the space in your back that holds the spinal cord. Herniated discs can also occur as a result of degenerative disc disease. A herniated disc occurs when a spinal disc bulges or breaks open.

Spine Image with Degenerative disc disease
Image with Inflamed Degenerative disc disease

Causes

Many factors, including age, can cause your spinal discs to degenerate. One possible cause of the condition is drying out of the discs. As we age, our spinal discs dry out and aren’t able to absorb shock as well. Injuries to the spine can lead to swelling, instability, and soreness. Sports and daily activities can also result in tears in the outer core of spinal discs. Because there is very little blood flow to the spinal discs, once a disc is injured, the disc is unable to repair itself, which may result in degeneration.

Diagnosis

Most physicians will begin the diagnostic process by getting a complete medical history from you. Your doctor will also ask you questions about your pain, where it is located, and what makes the pain better or worse. Your physician will also perform a physical examination on you to try to determine the source of your pain.

After a medical history has been taken and a physical examination has been performed, your physician may recommend some diagnostic tests. X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are useful diagnostic tests to help confirm a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease.

Treatment

Your doctor may recommend several different things to treat degenerative disc disease. Exercise is an important part of a degenerative disc disease treatment plan. Exercise can help increase the strength and flexibility of the muscles surrounding and supporting your spine. Additionally, exercise increases blood flow to your back, nourishing muscles and joints with nutrients and oxygen and clearing destructive inflammatory waste products away.

Your doctor may also recommend putting heat or ice on your back to help relieve pain. Over the counter pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including naproxen and ibuprofen, and acetaminophen may also be recommended to alleviate pain. Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications if your pain is severe. In some cases, surgery, such as spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement may be necessary.

Degenerative disc disease can occur as a natural part of the aging process. The condition can cause pain, numbness in your extremities, and weak leg muscles. Fortunately, once a physician diagnoses degenerative disc disease, there are several things you can do to treat the condition and relieve your symptoms.

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I have a pain syndrome that makes it difficult to do daily tasks, but the specialists here are helping me explore new pain management techniques all the time.
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I have been dealing with pain ever since a car accident years ago but really didn't want to resort to surgery. Los Angeles Pain Specialist has helped me and was patient with me while finding a non-invasive option.
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I wasn't sure I would ever be able to sleep through the night again, but the doctors here have worked with me to help alleviate pain I thought I would have to live with forever.
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