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Degenerative Disc Disease Overview

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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Posture and Neck Pain

Chronic neck pain is a miserable experience. Although some cases of neck pain are caused by an injury, many are simply due to poor posture. Poor posture stresses the muscles of the neck and can cause muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. Over time, the stresses of poor posture on the neck can cause degenerative diseases to develop in the discs and bones of the neck. Forward head A very commonly seen posture that puts a lot of strain on the neck is the forward head. The individual habitually thrusts the head forward, carrying it out in front of the shoulders. In this position, the weight of the head is constantly pulling on the spine and the shoulders. Sitting for hours hunched over a desk or a computer is a common cause of forward head. Many people with this habitual forward head carriage suffer from sore shoulders as well as a sore neck. Over time, the vertebrae at the base of the neck (C5 and C6) can develop painful degenerative conditions due to the constant weight of the head pulling on them in the forward head posture. Correct posture A correct posture is one that keeps the spine in alignment. Some people call it a neutral or balanced posture. One exercise to encourage a neutral posture is to focus on opening the chest wide as you try to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Once your chest is open, bring your head into alignment. Think of a string pulling up the top of your head and lengthening the neck. When you do this, your chin will tuck in and your head will naturally shift into proper alignment with your spine. Do the open chest/ string exercise multiple times a day. Other exercises to build better posture are head nods and chin tucks. To do a head nod, slowly nod your head slightly up and down without moving your neck. To do chin tucks, tip your nose down toward the ground and move the top of your head backwards. Repeat head nods and chin tucks several times a day. These exercises strengthen the muscles on the front of the neck. Individuals with habitual forward head posture usually have very weak muscles in the front of the neck. If you've worked hard at correcting your posture and you are still suffering from neck pain, why not give us a call?


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.