Disc degeneration is a natural part of aging. So, just like you lose your vision with aging and your hair turns gray, you can develop disc degeneration disease, especially after the age of 40, even if you don’t experience symptoms.
Now the question is, just like you can get lenses and dye your hair, can you reverse the degeneration of your discs? Let’s find out!
Let’s talk about what disc degeneration is and whether disc degeneration can be fully reversed or not, and where you can go in Michigan for effective disc degeneration management.
Disc Degeneration: What Is It?
Disc degeneration disease (not a disease but a natural occurrence that comes with aging) is a condition in which the discs present in your spine wear down. These discs are rubbery cushions between the bone of your spine that absorb the shock and help you comfortably bend, twist, and move.
When these rubbery cushions wear down, your vertebrae (the bone of your spine) start to rub against each other and cause pain. Besides pain, you may develop other problems such as:
- Spinal stenosis- when one or more spaces around your spine narrow
- Herniated disc- when disc ruptures, slips, or bulges and cause pain
- Adult scoliosis- a condition where the spine curves abnormally
- Spondylolisthesis- when the bones of your spine move in and out of the place
Besides aging, acute injury to the spine can also cause disc degeneration.
Can It Be Reversed?
Unluckily, your disc degeneration can not be reversed. However, since disc degeneration tends to progress over time, its progression can be slowed. You can adopt certain lifestyle changes to slow the progression of spinal disc degeneration. Some of these include:
- Avoiding or quitting smoking
- Exercising daily to increase the strength and flexibility of your spine
- Achieving and maintaining your healthy weight
- Maintaining a proper posture
- Avoiding activities that put additional stress on your back
Additionally, you can manage the symptoms of disc degeneration with several treatment modalities. Some of the nonsurgical treatment modalities include:
Hot and cold therapy. Ice packs and heating pads can also be used alternately for 10 to 15 minutes to combat soreness and inflammation.
Medications. Muscle relaxants, steroidal drugs, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can relieve back or neck pain that results from disc degeneration.
Steroid injection. Inflammation and pain near your discs, nerves, and joints can be managed with cortisone injections.
Physical therapy. Stretching and strengthening exercises are performed to improve flexibility and strength.
Radiofrequency ablation. An electric current heats up and deactivates the nerve that sends pain signals.
Disc degeneration doesn’t cause long-term disability; most of the time, symptoms get better when you try multiple nonsurgical treatments. However, if the pain and weakness still persist, surgery is the option you may want to consider. Spinal decompression surgery is mostly performed for disc degeneration. This may include:
Discectomy. Removing part of a disc to put off pressure on the nearby nerve.
Foraminotomy. Removing bones and tissues to expand the opening of your nerve roots.
Laminectomy. Removing a small part of the bone from the lamina.
Osteophyte removal. Taking out a bone spur.
Spinal fusion. Connecting two or more vertebrae to improve spine stability.
Disc Degeneration Treatment Near Me in Michigan
If you have severe pain and/or weakness and suspect it may be due to degenerative disc disease, don’t hesitate to visit our orthopedic surgeon at Ahlgren Spine. Our compassionate and skilled surgeon Dr. Bradley Ahlgren will perform a comprehensive evaluation and provide treatments that are suited to your condition.