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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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Decompression Surgery

The Type of Surgery is Decompression Spinal pain and discomfort can start from a number of reasons. Injuries are one of the most common. Spinal pain can be a big disruption to your life. Many times, spinal pain is treated by spinal decompression surgery. To know if spinal decompression surgery is the best treatment option for you, you will need to visit a spinal specialist. Aging and injury may cause the fibrous part of the vertebral disc to become weak. This can then cause the inner portion of the disc to push outwardly, stretching the outer rim of the disc. When this happens, the inner part of the disc can protrude and push on nerves and other areas. This can cause an array of symptoms. When might someone qualify for Decompression surgery? When your quality of life becomes altered to where normal, everyday activities are hard or impossible to do, due to back pain, you may qualify for Decompression surgery. Some of the symptoms you may experience are: • Tingling • Pain and discomfort • Numbness in the extremities • Weakness in the extremities What Is Spinal Decompression surgery? Decompression surgery is a procedure typically used for bulging and ruptured discs. It is a surgical procedure performed to relieve the pressure on the spine and help eliminate pain and discomfort, so you can get back to living comfortably. What Is Entailed In Decompression Surgery? The use of general anesthesia – You are put to sleep under general anesthesia so that you don’t feel anything, or are aware of anything. When you wake up, your surgery is complete and your spine has been repaired and stabilized. The procedure – During the procedure, the surgeon will make an incision around the area of the spine that is affected. Depending on which decompression procedure you are having done, your surgeon will make an incision along the spine to expose the affected area. For lesser invasive procedures; such as with the Lumbar Microdisectomy, the root of the nerve is pulled to prevent further nerve disruption. In a Laminectomy; the lamina, or the bone in the vertebra, is removed to relieve pressure on the nerves. Sometimes a fusion is also needed to increase stability of the spine. If your doctor has decided you should have spinal decompression surgery, do you know how to prepare for the Decompression surgery? You will need to stop smoking. You will also need to stop taking certain medications prior to surgery. You will need a driver to drive you home after your hospital release, and be sure to get enough time off of work for healing. Pain following Decompression surgery is to be expected. You may only need a low-dose of pain medicine for a short time. For more in-depth procedures requiring more extensive work, you may need a stronger pain medication for a while longer. Rehabilitation after Decompression surgery is sometimes needed to get you moving toward living pain-free. Your surgeon may order rehabilitation after surgery. Exercise after Decompression surgery will also be important. Stretches are good to start: flexion, extension stretches, or neutral stretches. Perform stretches in one of these positions when you are in early recovery, leg stretches for the middle of recovery, but save extensive exercising until you have completely healed. Scar tissue following Decompression surgery is a possibility and expected. Because scar tissue has no nerve endings, it typically does not cause any pain. Despite the involved process of Decompression surgery, there are many benefits of Decompression surgery. After surgery and healing, most people go on to live a pain-free, active life again. They lose many to all of their prior symptoms and are again, able to be mobile without discomfort.

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.