Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease occurs when the intervertebral discs in charge of absorbing shock and adding flexibility to the spine wear down due to age and physical activity. When this happens, the area available for the spinal nerves within the spinal cord reduces, leading to pain and discomfort. 

Degenerative disc disease can often be discarded as back pain and not treated appropriately. Understanding what and how this condition develops is crucial to encourage patients suffering from it to seek professional healthcare. 

What is Degenerative Disc Disease

The intervertebral discs are in charge of adding flexibility to the lumbar spine. They absorb shock when jumping or walking.

Degenerative disc disease, or DDD, is often characterized by continuous deterioration of the intervertebral discs. When these discs start to deteriorate, your range of movements becomes impaired and causes pain, leg numbness, and other correlated symptoms.

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease can be caused due to multiple factors, including:

  • Aging process: As the spine ages, the discs lose moisture and their ability to absorb shock, leading to pain and discomfort.
  • Genetics: A family history of spinal disorders could increase the risk of developing degenerative disc disease.
  • Lifestyle factors: Smoking, poor nutrition, and sedentary behavior could contribute to the degeneration of intervertebral discs.
  • Injuries and trauma: Physical trauma caused by workspace injuries or sports could cause tears in the spinal area where the discs are placed.

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

Some of the most common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:

  • Pain and discomfort in the lower back area 
  • Limitations in the range of motions due to spinal stiffness
  • Nerve-related symptoms like tingling, weakness in the legs and back
  • Severity and progression of symptoms

Diagnosis of Degenerative Disc Disease

Firstly, your healthcare provider will examine your family’s medical history to discard any congenital factors contributing to the disease's development.

If no anomalies are recognized, your doctor will continue with a physical examination of your lower back and legs.

Imaging studies like X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans may also help visualize any damage in the spine.

Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease

Treatments for degenerative disc disease offer different approaches depending on each case's damage extent and root cause. Some of these include:

A. Non-invasive Physical Therapy

Non-invasive procedures use physical therapy or exercises to alleviate pain symptoms. These can be used along with other minimally invasive intervention options or non-opioid medication:

  • Massage therapy: This therapy focuses on areas that are causing pain and discomfort, releasing pain and pressure from the lumbar area.
  • Acupuncture: This type of conservative therapy uses needles to focus on pressure points, helping with the nerves that send pain signals into the brain.
  • Chiropractic care: This kind of therapy uses manual techniques to align the spine.

B. Lifestyle Changes

Some tips that could help alleviate the symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:

  1. Performing low-impact exercises to strengthen the muscles around the spine and add flexibility to the lumbar area
  2. Following a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle to manage weight and reduce lumbar stress
  3. Using ergonomic chairs and having good posture reduces pressure and pain in your spine

C. Non-Opioid Medications

Non-opioid medications offered by your health specialist can help reduce spinal swelling and nerve pressure. These may include anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants.

Depending on your case and the extent of wear in the intervertebral disc, your doctor will provide specific dosage instructions.

D. Injections

Unlike local anesthetics, injections offer longer-lasting relief for patients dealing with degenerative disc disease. Available options can include the following:

  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is derived from the patient’s own blood and contains multiple substances that promote tissue growth and regeneration. 
  • Stem cell therapy uses stem cells from multiple tissues of the patient's own body and promotes tissue regeneration. 

E. Pain Management Procedures

The pain management approach focuses on helping patients almost instantly alleviate back pain symptoms. Since these procedures only help block pain nerve signals, their use is often suggested with other treatment options targeting the specific discomfort's root cause.

Techniques used in this branch of medicine can include the following options:

  • Steroid Injections: These are injected near the spinal nerve area, blocking the transmission of pain signals.
  • Facet joint injections: These are targeted into the joints located on the vertebra, which could be causing nerve compression.

F. Neuromodulation

Neuromodulation is the medical technique of altering nerve activity using electrical stimulation. Its objective is to block the pain signals sent into the brain. These can help reduce the lumbar stress caused by degenerative disc disease:

  • Spinal cord stimulation uses electrical impulses to modify the nerve activity in the spine, stopping pain from being felt.
  • Peripheral nerve stimulation uses electrical stimulation to target peripheral nerves around the spinal cord. 

G. Minimally Invasive Interventions

Minimally invasive interventions are a great alternative to surgical procedures since they correct mobility and alleviate pain symptoms without stitches, long recovery time, or general anesthesia.

Some of these procedures that focus on alleviating the symptoms caused by degenerative disc disease include the following:

  • Microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed to treat a herniated or bulging disc that is causing pain and other symptoms.
  • Artificial disc replacement is a surgical procedure that aims to replace a degenerated or damaged intervertebral disc with an artificial disc implant.

Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease in Tualatin and Newberg in Oregon

At the Spinal Diagnostics clinic, we focus on spinal and neuropathic pain management. Our team of specialists are recognized leaders in clinical research and will provide you with an updated diagnostic process and treatment options.

We have dedicated our practice to improving our patient’s quality of life without using opiate medications or traditional spine surgery. Over ten years of experience makes us the top choice for those dealing with back and neck pain.

If you want to learn more about our services, call us, schedule an appointment online, or visit our locations in Tualatin and Newberg in Oregon.

2024 All Rights Reserved

Website Design & SEO by Numana Digital

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram