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Degenerative Disc Disease Overview


Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is commonly mistaken for a disease due to its name. However, DDD is actually the natural, decomposing effects of aging. Our bodies endure a substantial amount of stress throughout a lifetime, and the spine is literally the backbone of our bodies’ upright and mechanical positioning and movement. The spine allows us to twist, bend, arch, and lean, while allowing our bodies to retain its skeletal form. The discs in the spine, in between each vertebra, act as shocks for those vertebrae, relieving the stress and blunt force that they would otherwise endure. However, just like shocks in an automobile, these discs become worn out over time due to strenuous and frequent use.

What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease?

As we age, the cartilage protecting our spinal discs deteriorates, allowing the discs to bulge or protrude. Due to the shape and curvature of our spine, this usually occurs in the upper and lower back. These parts of the spine are the focal points of pressure and strenuous activity. The actual corrosion of the cartilage is called Osteoarthritis, and the most common result of this is a herniated disc. Both of these issues, along with other related effects, greatly increase nerve damage and spinal pain.

What are the Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease?

Pain tolerance and awareness differs greatly between different people. While some people with DDD experience a great amount pain in certain areas of their back and neck, others might feel no pain at all. These pains are typically more noticed with movement of the back, such as twisting, reaching, arching, or bending over. Because of the structure and functionality of nerves, sharp pain can sometimes be felt outside of the general area of the affected disc, such as in the arms and legs, usually depending on upper or lower disc damage.

How is Degenerative Disc Disease Diagnosed?

The diagnosis process is detailed and thorough, as it is extremely important to uproot the cause of any pain in the spine to determine the underlying issue and recommend the correct treatments. A physician will discuss with a patient any previous injuries, damage, or pain to the neck and spine. After neurostimulation, the physician can then make an educated decision on what treatments should initially take place to relieve any pain.

How is Degenerative Disc Disease Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for DDD, but there are many different treatments patients can undergo to help with the symptoms of DDD, such as neck and back pain and nerve damage. Therapeutic, non-invasive treatment is primarily recommended to relieve neck and back pain in most cases. However, if the pain is too great or the damage to a disc is too severe, minimally invasive surgery could be recommended by a physician as a solution to further ease the pain.

There are two different kinds of non-invasive treatments for lower back pain: passive and active. Passive treatments consist of pain medication, such as muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory medicine, and oral steroids. More passive treatments include neurostimulation, ultra sound to enhance blood flow, therapeutic massages to relax muscles, and anti-inflammatory injections to reduce swelling.

Active treatments are more of a self-help, health focus. These include exercising, such as lifting light weights for muscle memory and retention, weight loss to provide relief from certain pressure points on the spine, and quitting smoking to increase blood to ensure faster healing.

Why Choose Become Pain Free?

From chiropractors to pain management specialists to expert spine surgeons, Become Pain Free can help get rid of your pain so you can get your life back on track. To learn more about how we can help, fill out the form on the right or call 888-373-3720. We'll connect you with the right specialist so you can stop living in pain.Call Become Pain Free... your pain solution.

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Spinal Disc Problems

Back pain has many causes, many of which involve the discs in the spine. Discs are cushions that are located between each vertebrae that makes up the spine. Discs can deteriorate over time, possibly leading to several potential spinal disc problems. Normal Disc A normal, healthy disc provides cushioning between the bones, or vertebra, that make up the spine. A disc is round, but flattened at the top and bottom, and is flexible to provide shock absorption and act as connective tissue between vertebra. Each spinal disc is made up of a firmer collagen outer layer with a softer fiber and gelatinous center. Over time, loss of hydration may lead to discs becoming stiffer or more brittle, leading to potential problems. Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is not really a disease and is typically used to refer to the natural degeneration that occurs to discs over time. Loss of fluid causes discs to become thinner and stiffer. Degenerative Disc Disease may include inflammation within the inner portion of the disc or stiffening of the outer portion, resulting in micromotion instability and small cracks or tears. DDD does not always cause pain or other symptoms, but this condition may lead to the development of other spinal disc problems. Bulging Disc Due to weakening and thinning of the tough outer layer of the disc, the inner filling may press beyond its natural boundaries, forcing part of the outer layer to extend beyond its normal range, resulting in a protrusion of an area of the disc. Bulging discs typically have no symptoms, unless the protruding area presses on surrounding nerves. Herniated Disc If there are tiny cracks in the outer layer of the disc, pressure can allow some of the gelatinous fluid from the inner core to leak out of the disc and protrude into the spinal column. While it is possible that a herniated disc may have no symptoms, it is more likely because the protruding inner core is likely to press on surrounding nerves. Thinning Disc Thinning, or flattening, of spinal discs is a normal occurrence of DDD. Problems can occur if parts of the weakened disc break off and press on nerves or affect normal spinal movement. Thinning discs may allow bones in the spine to rub together, leading to pain and additional problems. Disc Degeneration with Osteophyte Formation As discs thin with DDD, less space is available between vertebrae. Osteophytes, or bone spurs, can develop to compensate for the thinning space. Osteophytes may cause no symptoms, or they may grow large enough to press on nerves. No matter what is causing your back pain, Become Pain Free has a medical specialist who will work to help you become pain-free. Make an appointment today by calling us today at (214) 396-3647 or toll-free at (888) 373-3720. The sooner you call, the quicker you can get back to living your life instead of living in pain.

Note: The information on this Web site is provided as general health guidelines and may not be applicable to your particular health condition. Your individual health status and any required medical treatments can only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider of your choice. Remember: There is no adequate substitution for a personal consultation with your physician. Neither BPF Specialty Hospital, or any of their affiliates, nor any contributors shall have any liability for the content or any errors or omissions in the information provided by this Web site.