Degenerative Disc Disease

Our spinal discs are soft gel-like materials that cushion each interlocking bone that comprises the spine.  But with enough pressure, these spongy discs will get compressed. As these gel-like cushions get squeezed and compacted, they are no longer able to function as shock absorbers for the vertebrae.  The spine, in turn, becomes inflexible, unable to bend, twist, or stretch.

This is what happens in degenerative disc disease. The condition is not really a disease; rather, it is what occurs as we age. Growing older carries with it normal changes in the spinal discs. Unfortunately, these changes can be painful. People who smoke or do heavy lifting work are prone to degenerative disc disease. Obesity is also a factor for developing the disorder.

Back or neck pain is the most common indicator of degenerative disc disease.  However, the severity of the pain may vary from one person to another. The pain may intensify further when one bends, twists, or stretches the spine.  Some patients diagnosed with degenerative disc disease also report numbness or tingling of the arms or legs.

Degenerative disc disease usually affects the lower back area (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region), resulting in pain.  

The following conditions are closely associated with the disease:

  • Osteoarthritis, which is characterized by the breakdown of the soft cartilages that cushion the joints

  • Herniated disc, or the bulging of the spinal disc

  • Spinal stenosis, which involves the narrowing of the spinal canal

Degenerative disc disease is a result of the loss in fluid in the spinal discs. The discs become thinner and less flexible. Cracks and tiny tears often form in the disc’s outer layer, causing the disc to bulge or rupture.

There are a variety of treatments that help with pain management associated with degenerative disc disease. Comprehensive Pain Consultants of the Carolinas is ready to help. Call us today!