One minute you’re just sitting there on the couch, and the next, you’re clutching your lower back. It’s not like you were exerting yourself, so how could you be in so much pain? This is one of the signs of degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
Lower back pain that worsens while sitting is just one of the symptoms of degenerative disc disease, a condition that is most often caused by aging. Other symptoms include:
- Pain extending to the legs and buttocks
- Chronic neck pain that can extend to the arms
- Pain that increases after you bend or twist
- A pins-and-needles sensation
- Weakness or numbness in the arms
The pain from degenerative disc disease can also come and go for days, weeks, or even months, and may get temporarily better after walking or exercising.
Degenerative Disc Disease Causes
“The pain that people feel when they’re suffering from disc degeneration comes from a lack of a cushioning effect from the desiccated (dried out) disc,” said DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain today. “This puts more stress on the adjacent vertebrae (bones) and joints, which in turn causes more pain. When a disc dries out, it can also herniate and/or tear, causing more back or leg pain. Even minor movements can start to feel unbearable in serious cases. While not everyone experiences discomfort related to this condition, those who do can benefit from a variety of treatments to eliminate the pain.”
Degenerative Disc Disease Diagnosis
While there are a variety of symptoms and causes associated with degenerative disc disease. The only way to be certain about your condition is to visit a leading spine specialist. It’s important to make an appointment early so your condition doesn’t get worse.
Degenerative disc disease is “a progressive condition that happens over time from wear and tear or injury,” said Healthline. “Over time, (it) can worsen. It can cause mild to extreme pain that may interfere with your everyday activities.”
More serious conditions like bone spurs, disc tears, spinal stenosis, and osteoarthritis can arise without treatment. “In extreme cases, compressed nerves can lead to cauda equine syndrome, an especially dangerous condition that requires immediate surgery to avoid potential paralysis,” said Dr. Mark C. Valente, Board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon and founder and Medical Director of the DISC Spine Institute.
Once there is a diagnosis, your doctor can develop a treatment plan. Initial treatments for degenerative disc disease can include: hot and cold therapy; over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Advil; and physical therapy. If those conservative treatments are not effective in eliminating the pain or if the disc continues to degenerate, it may be time for surgery.
Degenerative Disc Disease Treatments
There are several minimally invasive surgical procedures that can treat degenerative disc disease, including:
- Discectomy—During a discectomy, the damaged part of the disc is removed, taking pressure off the nerve.
- Foraminotomy—Minimally invasive cervical foraminotomies are performed through a very small incision in the back of the neck.
- Laminectomy—Procedures like minimally invasive laminectomies take the pressure off of the compressed nerve.
Each of these procedures is done on an outpatient basis. They all also involve very minimal blood loss and no sutures, with incisions that are less than an inch long. Revolutionary procedures like stem cell treatments are also being used by leading spinal surgeons like Dr. Valente to regenerate cells, alleviate pain, restore function, and improve overall health.
Minimally invasive surgical techniques mean treating chronic back pain is easier than ever, with outpatient treatments, small incisions, and a quicker recovery time instead of a long hospital stay. When it’s time to end your chronic back pain, it’s time to contact the DISC Spine Institute.