FAQ’s on Disc Degeneration
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
This is not a disease, per se. This name is given to the changes in the spinal discs experienced by patients as they age. A spinal disc is the soft spongy substance located in between each vertebrae of the spine that absorbs shocks of the spine during regular movement. These discs allow spine to have a full range of motion.
Degenerative Disc Disease can occur in any section of the spine, but affects the lumbar (lower-back) and cervical (neck) discs more than any other part.
How is disc degeneration caused?
Growing old is not something you can avoid. That is the most common cause. Withage,the discs are slowly worn down until damage occurs. The disc’s internal fluid is slowly lost over time narrowing the disc. This may cause the spine to grind against itself during movement. This can lead to damage suffered to the bony structure of the spine, and may also result in the formation of bone spurs.
The disc can get damaged by either bulging out of its socket, or may rupture. In both cases, the surrounding spinal nerves amy get impacted, leading to secondary complications and pain.
He severity of pain will vary from person to person. Sometimes, a damaged disc may not feel pain at all, or the pain felt could be so severe it is debilitating to the patient. The pain may become more severe as the disc worsens in condition, or may be acute when the damage to the disc is caused by direct injury.
The location of the damaged disc can also influence the severity of symptoms. A damaged lumbar disc can cause pain and weakness throughout the pelvis and legs, where a damaged cervical disc can lead to stiffneck and headaches.
How is the diagnosis done?
For diagnosis, the patient’s symptoms, medical history, and events leading up to the occurrence of symptoms are considered. Diagnostic tests are chosen depending on the location of the symptoms and may include a range of motion test of the spine, a test of nerves that may be compressed, and tenderness of the affected area to touch.
What are the treatment options?
In less severe cases, the application of warm or cold compresses may be advised along with medication. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory are common. Surgery may be required in severe cases such the compression of one or more nerves.