What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is not as much a disease as it is a condition that describes changes that can happen to the spine as a result of past trauma or a natural progression as we age.
Our discs are made of a tough, rubbery exterior and a soft interior. They sit between the vertebrae to act as shock absorbers. As we age or as the result of trauma, the spinal discs may begin to degenerate. This can lead to herniated discs, bulging discs, spinal stenosis, and osteoarthritis.
Degenerative Disc Symptoms
In any cases the degeneration of spinal discs may cause no symptoms at all, and symptoms depend on each patient and the severity of their case. Pain may occur at the site of the affected disc in the back or neck. As the pain is often caused by compressed nerves, this pain can also travel to other areas of the body like the buttocks, arms, and legs. Numbness and tingling in the arms and/or legs may also be experienced. The pain can range from mild to severe and debilitating.
Degenerative Disc Causes
As mentioned previously, our spines can degenerate as a natural part of aging. Tears in the tougher outer layer of the disc are common as we grow older and when the discs begin to lose fluid, they become smaller and less flexible. In addition to aging, other factors that may come into play, including inflammation, obesity, smoking, repetitive physical work, and injury.
Degenerative Disc Treatment
Self-care for the pain caused by degeneration is often treated with hot or cold packs and an anti inflammatory OTC medication. When disc degeneration causes problems like herniated or bulging discs, spinal stenosis, or osteoarthritis, other forms of treatment may be beneficial. Dr. Henderson takes an active approach to care including adjusting/mobilization, lifestyle changes, stretching and strengthening as well as patient education. While degenerative disc disease may be a natural part of aging, there are things you can do to prevent dysfunction and stay healthy.