Disc degeneration is one of the painful realities that come with age. It occurs when our discs—the gel-filled pads between the vertebrae that act as shock absorbers—desiccate or lose their natural hydration and start to break down, thus the term “degeneration.”
If you’ve entered middle age and wondering if the back pain you’re wincing at is indicative of disc degeneration, outlined below are the potential symptoms of the condition to give you a better idea.
One of the most common indicators of disc degeneration is a low-grade, chronic pain around the affected disc, usually in the cervical region (neck) or lower region (lower back). The pain can occasionally flare up into a potentially debilitating type of pain and can be triggered by simple movements, such as twisting or bending over. However, it can also occur suddenly and without any obvious cause. Episodes can last anywhere between a few days and a few weeks before temporarily going away.
People with disc degeneration also report pain that radiates down their leg—a condition known as sciatica. Sciatica causes stabbing or searing pain, or, in some cases, pain that feels like a jolt or electric shock. Notably, the pain is often unilateral or felt only on one side of your body.
Sciatica occurs when a disc in your lumbar area degenerates and herniates, thereby putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve branches from your lumbar area and runs through your buttock, down the back of your thigh all the way to your heel and sole of your foot.
Disc degeneration can cause neurological symptoms aside from pain. You may feel tingling or pins-and-needles sensation, muscle weakness, and numbness, particularly along the path of the affected nerve. You may also experience them in your arms and fingers if disc degeneration has developed in the cervical region of your spine.
Treatment for Disc Degeneration in Michigan
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of disc degeneration, don’t wait to seek treatment. Without appropriate intervention, these can bring on significant quality-of-life issues.
Visit us here at Ahlgren Spine Orthopaedic Surgery for a comprehensive evaluation with our board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon, Dr. Bradley Ahlgren. Scores of patients gravitate to our practice for the exceptional quality of care and effective solutions we provide for the entire range of spine problems—including degenerative disc disease.
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Ahlgren today by calling us at (248) 215-8080 or using our appointment request form. We look forward to serving you!