Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment and Causes
When it comes to staying healthy in old age, there are tons of steps you can take to stay active and maintain your health. Diet, exercise, and mental stimulation are all key to enjoying your later years to their full potential.
However, there are some issues that are beyond our control. As we age our bodies begin to break down, and this can lead to pain and a lack of mobility. One of the more painful and debilitating conditions is degenerative disc disease. This condition can be difficult to treat, but luckily there are new treatments that can slow its progression and reduce pain.
In this article, we’ll go over the causes of the degenerative disc disease and go over degenerative disc disease treatment.
Degenerative Disc Disease: The Basics
Although the word “disease” conjures up an image of illness or sickness, degenerative disc disease is not an illness or sickness that can be passed from person to person.
Degenerative disc disease is a condition that affects the rubbery discs that sit between the individual vertebrae of the spine. These rubbery discs act as shock absorbers in the spine, resisting damaging exterior forces and allowing the bones of the spine to move.
Degenerative disc disease affects these discs by causing them to lose their flexibility and pliability. As these discs lose their shock-absorbing qualities, they begin to crack and tear at the edges. This causes stiffness, pain, and a loss of range of motion. It can make it difficult to walk, bend over, or go about your daily physical activities.
Degenerative disc disease is not caused by a virus, bacteria, or genetic predispositions. This disease is usually a result of aging. As we age, the discs tend to dry out and crack, which causes pain and stiffness. But it can also be caused by other external factors.
High levels of intense activity such as physically demanding sports and professions can cause degenerative disc disease. As the small tears and minor injuries add up over time, the discs of the spine begin to lose their integrity and weaken.
This disease can also be the result of another injury. Injuries anywhere in the body cause inflammation, which makes the injured body part stiff and difficult to move. Injuries to the spine can cause inflammation and swelling, which can make the spine harder to move. This contributes to degenerative disc disease by causing the discs to lose their flexibility.
These discs also don’t receive any blood flow from the body. This means that once they are damaged, they cannot be naturally repaired by the body.
Degenerative Disk Disease Symptoms
Although pain is one of the main symptoms of degenerative disc disease, it takes many shapes and forms. The pain experienced from this disease may range from mild to severe, and can cause pain from the neck all the way down to the calf. It may even cause pain that radiates into the arms and hands as well.
Pain from the disease can increase when bending, sitting, lifting, or twisting. However, it can also decrease from walking and moving, or by frequently changing your position while lying down. The strange part about the pain from degenerative disc disease is that it may dissipate completely over the course of a few months, and then return with a crippling vengeance.
You also may experience bouts of weakness, tingling, or numbness in your extremities. If you experience weakness in your leg muscles or the inability to keep your foot stiff and raised, you may have received significant damage to the root of the nerve.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to visit a doctor to begin treatment. Although the recovery from this disease won’t be easy, there are plenty of treatment options that can improve your condition.
Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment
When it comes to treating degenerative disc disease, there are both non-invasive and surgical options.
Many people who experience this disease turn to physical therapy as a means of treating it. Physical therapy for degenerative disc disease patients usually involves light physical exercise that is designed to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine.
By strengthening the muscles that support the spine, the patient is able to reduce the amount of stress and weight that these discs are bearing. This reduces pain and slows the progression of the disease. It can also help you return to your regular physical exercise without the use of medication or surgery.
Spinal mobilization is a treatment that uses slow and steady movements to help patients regain their range of motion and reduce pain. Unlike physical therapy, spinal mobilization doesn’t normally require physical effort from the patient. Doctors and other professionals will manipulate the spine using exterior force, which helps loosen the spine and give it flexibility.
This is a great option for older patients who cannot exercise well but would like to avoid surgery or medication.
When it comes to surgical treatments for degenerative disc disease, there are two options. The first is known as spinal fusion surgery. This involves using screws to fuse two of the vertebrae of the spine together into one single bone. This completely gets rid of the disc between the bones, which reduces pain.
However, this surgery also results in a loss of motion of the spine due to the bones being fused together. This is a good option for elderly patients who will not need a full range of motion for their spine.
The other option is to replace the injured discs with a surgical implant. These surgical implants are made of metal and plastic and sit between the bones of the spine, acting as an artificial disc.
Although this surgery has long recovery times and a level of risk, it also results in the most complete recovery from this disease. This is a great option for patients who have advanced disc degeneration but still need their full range of motion in their spine. If you’re interested in spinal disc replacement, you can learn more here.
Treat Degenerative Disc Disease the Right Way
Getting the right degenerative disc disease treatment for your condition is key to a quick and efficient recovery. Make sure to speak with your doctor about your options to find the best recovery option for you.
If you have any questions about degenerative disc disease or other medical conditions, please visit our blog.