Degenerative disc disease is a wear and tear of the spinal discs and can happen to anyone. Long-term effects cause mobility issues and interfere with your quality of life. c Aging is a primary cause, but other factors can increase the risk of this condition.
Let us talk about degenerative disc disease, its risk factors, and where you can go for world-class orthopedic care.
What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease happens when the spinal discs cushioning your vertebrae wear down as a part of the normal aging process. For instance, the discs begin to thin and dry out, leaving the bones to rub against one another. Injuries can also result in cracks and compress nerves, resulting in pain.
How Do I Know If I Have Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is also called arthritis of the spine. Most people are unaware they have it until it’s severe. However, the following are the typical symptoms:
- Pain in your neck, shoulders, lower back, or buttocks
- Pain radiating to the arms, wrists, and fingers
- Tingling or numbness in extremities
- Difficulty in walking
- Bladder or bowel problems
If you experience any of the above symptoms, it’s best to consult your orthopedic doctor at your earliest convenience.
Who Is More Prone to Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is common in older people. Age causes joints to weaken. Furthermore, injuries can tear or damage the discs, leading to swelling and instability of the spine. However, other factors can affect the development of the condition and can affect the following people:
Genetics are a significant contributor to your risk of degenerative disc disease. A family history of orthopedic problems could increase your risk of degenerative disc disease.
Injuries or Accidents
Aside from the normal wear and tear, discs are also prone to faster degeneration when an individual suffers from injury. Injuries to the back of any kind may cause damage to vertebrae and discs alike. These are common in sports and occupational activities requiring heavy lifting or bending.
Biological Sex or Hormones
Women are susceptible to disc degeneration. Decreased estrogen levels in the blood accelerate the development of musculoskeletal diseases, especially during menopause.
Obesity can put unnecessary pressure on the spine, resulting in faster degeneration. Obese people are also more likely to experience low back pain.
Prolonged sitting or standing often leads to pain and increased strain on the discs. Poor posture contributes to the curving of the spine, creating pressure at the back. Weak core muscles lead to instability and misalignment of the spine due to bad posture and insufficient support.
Smoking causes coughing, which can strain your back. It puts extra force on the discs, increasing the risk of spine problems. Nicotine can also reduce nutrient absorption, causing bone problems.
People with Specific Occupations
Physical work, such as heavy lifting, can also accelerate disc degeneration. Accidents at work can also cause enough physical trauma to increase the risk.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease
Your healthcare provider will perform a thorough assessment of your condition through MRI to examine the extent of the damage.
Its treatment depends on the severity of your condition. Here are some treatment options for degenerative disc disease:
- Medications (NSAIDs, muscle relaxants)
- Steroid injections
- Pain management
- Physical therapy
- Use of a back brace
- Spinal surgery
- Disc replacement
In case of failure, your doctor will typically use the most conservative methods first, followed by surgery.
Orthopedic surgeon near me
Dealing with degenerative disc disease can be painful and limiting. The correct treatment helps in delaying progression and resolves its accompanying symptoms.
The board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bradley D. Ahlgren at Ahlgren Spine Orthopaedic Surgery is ready to address your concerns about degenerative disc disease. He will perform comprehensive physical examinations, review your medical history, and discuss your symptoms.
We provide comprehensive treatments and on-site services suited to your condition. Aside from degenerative disc, we also specialize in treating other orthopedic conditions, especially around the spine.
Let us help you live a pain-free and active life!