If you’ve been suffering from back pain and you’ve been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, it’s understandable that the mere name of your condition would set off alarm bells.
Degenerative disc disease sounds awful and frightening. In truth, this condition, which describes the deterioration of one or more invertebral discs in your spine, is extremely common. Forty percent of forty-year-olds have degenerative disc disease, and the percentages increase by the decade accordingly, with 80 percent of 80-year-olds having it.
In most cases it is a simple fact of aging: just as is true of the rest of our bodies, the discs survive significant wear and tear over the years, and eventually some of them will simply start to fall apart as the outer ring of collagen fibers that surround the soft center of the disc begin to develop cracks and the center begins to dry out.
Degenerative disc disease can also be a result of or exacerbated by trauma such as an automobile injury or old sports injuries.
The problem with having degenerative disc disease is that as the discs deteriorate, they can end up bulging and putting pressure on nerves, or bone spurs can form.
Another problem resulting from degenerative disc disease is a loss of height between the vertebrae, which can also pinch nerves and lead to instability.
Degenerative disc shares symptoms with several other spine problems. The most common symptoms include:
- Intermittent pain in the back that gets worse when bending, twisting or sitting
- Pain in the legs accompanied by numbness or tingling
If you believe that you have degenerative disc disease, the first step you should take is to see our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey to get an accurate diagnosis.
We will discuss where your pain is, what causes it, and whether you are experiencing any kind of balance problems or weakness that accompany your discomfort. We will talk about old injuries and other medical conditions that are relevant and will likely order a diagnostic scan such as an X-Ray, MRI or CT scan in order to provide us with a clearer picture of exactly what is happening in your back.
Once we are equipped with this information we will move on to conservative non-surgical treatments which may include rest, physical therapy, exercise, stretching, medication or injections to reduce pain and swelling.
In many cases, these approaches will provide you with relief. If you are still experiencing pain, there are surgical treatment approaches that have proven to be effective in the treatment of degenerative disc disease. These include spinal fusion, which eliminates instability in the lower back, decompresses nerve roots and returns lost height between the vertebrae.
For more information about the options available to those suffering from degenerative disc disease, contact our office today to set up an appointment with our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey.