Degenerative Disc Disease

 What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is “Aging” of the intervertebral discs, and a common condition that may cause chronic neck and low back pain.  It occurs when the soft, spring-like discs located in the spinal column begin to wear down, losing their ability to absorb shock. Although it is a normal condition associated with age, degenerative disc disease can be debilitating for some patients.  Over time, the condition may progress, causing  inflammation around the surrounding structures, which include exiting spinal nerves, resulting in Radiculopathy, and facet joints, with subsequent SpondylosisDDD

What Are The Symptoms OF Degenerative Disc Disease?

Symptoms experienced by patients who have this condition are variable. The degree of disc degeneration does not predict the level of pain and symptoms.  “Degenerative Disc Disease” denotes a radiographic diagnosis, that can only be diagnosed by advanced imaging such as MRI.  As the discs in the spine degenerate, the spinal canal will become narrower, resulting in condition called spinal Stenosis.  Cervical Degenerative Disc disease will result in neck pain, sometimes pain radiating down the arm when one of the exiting cervical nerves is compressed, increased pain with neck extension and cervical rotation secondary to facet joints arthritis (Cervical Spondylosis). When lumbar discs are involved, patients experience chronic low back pain, sometimes radiating down to the legs, tingling, numbness, and on some occasions weakness.

Is there treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease at RA Pain Services?

Degenerative disc disease is a progressive condition with  treatments to help manage the symptoms and limit progression. Conservative treatments often beneficial include  use of a lumbar support brace,  physical therapy program to strengthen the core muscles and increase flexibility. Medications such as Anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxants are often tried to provide relief. However, many patients require additional interventions, such as epidural steroid injections.  During your consultation, our Physicians will discuss treatment options that would be appropriate.

Is there anything I can do to help improve the pain caused by degenerative disc disease?

You should follow all instructions for treatment exactly as prescribed by your doctor. However, you may also be able to improve symptoms and your long term outcome by maintaining a healthy weight and learning postural control.  Lifestyle modifications are an essential part of a Comprehensive treatment plan, and includes strong emphasis on smoking cessation, increased level of physical activity with a consistent exercise program, and stress management.

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