Degenerative Disc Disease Overview
Degenerative disc disease is typically regarded as one of the most common causes of low back pain. It is also one of the most misunderstood diseases. Many patients who are diagnosed with low back pain caused by degenerative disc disease are left confused. They are uncertain as to what exactly this diagnosis means for them.
Cervical stenosis is caused by the compression of spinal cord as a result of cervical degeneration or cervical spondylosis. Cervical spondylosis is commonly called Arthritis. Other causes include vertebral fracture of dislocation, herniated discs, tumors, viral infections and various vascular causes.
Following are some of the common questions asked by our patients;
- If I have low back pain from degenerative disc disease in my thirties, how much worse will it become with age?
- Will the degenerative disc disease become a crippling condition? Will I end up in a wheelchair?
- Should I restrict my activities in light of this disease?
- Can I still play sports?
- Will the degenerative disc disease spread to other parts of the spine?
- Will the low back pain from degenerative disc disease cause any permanent damage?
The term ‘degenerative disc disease’ itself sounds very threatening. That is the primary reason of confusion among the patients. This is a misunderstanding that we wish to clear up. This condition is not strictly degenerative and is not really a disease.
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- The term ‘degenerative’ causes most confusion and apprehension. It implies to most people that the symptoms will get worse with age. The term applies to the disc degenerating. However, it does not apply to the symptoms. While it is true that the disc degeneration is likely to progress over time. Yet, the low back pain from degenerative disc disease usually does not get worse. In fact, it usually gets better over time.
- The term ‘disease’ is also a cause of some confusion among patients. This is a misnomer. Degenerative disc disease is not really a disease at all. Instead, it is a degenerative condition that at times can produce pain from a damaged disc.
Disc degeneration is a natural part of aging. It usually has no other cause than age related conditions. Over time, all people are likely to exhibit changes in their disc. The expanse of change could be greater or lesser degree of degeneration. Not all people are likely to develop symptoms. The degenerative disc disease is quite variable in its nature and severity.
Degenerative disc disease is usually diagnosed based on medical history and a physical examination. The physician examines the symptoms and the circumstances where the pain started. Magnetic resonance imaging can show the damage to discs. However, it alone is not enough to confirm the condition.
Diagnostic imaging, such as; X-rays, CT scans, & MRI scans can give more conclusive results.
Treatment for degenerative disc disease might include occupational therapy, physical therapy, or both. Special exercises, losing weight, medication and surgery can be recommended depending upon the severity and nature of the case.
Medical options include injecting the joints next to the damaged disc with steroids and a local anesthesia. These doses are called facet joint injections. They can provide effective pain relief.
For more questions, contact our offices located in Dallas, Irving, Red Oak, Plano, Southlake, Grapevine, Colleyville and Duncanville marketplaces.