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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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Basic Anatomy of the Spine

Spinal Pain To understand spinal pain, we need to understand the basic anatomy of the spine. The spine is composed of strong bones, large muscles, flexible tendons and sensitive nerves. The spine is designed to be very strong and flexible, protecting our nerve endings while at the same time providing great mobility. You can experience spinal pain when the spine's nerves are irritated, the muscles are strained, injury or a slipped disk. We will have a brief overview of the anatomy of the spine to help target the source of your pain. The cervical spine. This is your neck area. The cervical spine is comprised of seven bones and supports our heads and protects the nerves that connect the brain to the rest of the body. Pain in this area is usually associated with strained muscles or ligaments from stress or other minor injuries. Common pain does not usually require medical attention and can be alleviated with acetaminophen and ice or heat. If your pain lasts longer than two weeks or is accompanied by arm pain, numbness or tingling, this is an anatomical problem and could be signs of a herniated disk. The thoracic spine. The upper back is composed of 12 bones that attach to the rib cage, providing stability and support. There is very little ability for mobility in this area of the back. The thoracic spine is designed for protection of the vital organs in this area of the body. Injuries to this part of the spine are very rare, but extreme muscle strain could cause pain in this area. If you are suffering an injury to this area of the spine, contact a doctor immediately. The lumbar spine. The lumbar spine, also known as the lower back, carries the weight of our upper bodies. This area of the spine is the most frequently injured. The upper disks of the lumbar spine are prone to wear and tear, thus a concern for osteoarthritis, while the lower disks are more likely to herniate. Though a cause for concern in later years of life, the lumbar spine mostly is a source of pain caused by muscle strain. The sacral region. This is the bottom of the spine, a single bone shaped like a triangle that connects the spine to the lower half of our bodies. Pain in this area is more common among women and is usually prone to bruising. Become Pain Free is the area's most diverse, comprehensive network of physicians whose sole purpose is to relieve every patient's pain. Call us today for an appointment - (214) 396-3647 or (888) 373-3720

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.