What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative Disc Disease is a term used to describe the breakdown of spinal discs in the back that occur naturally with age. Spinal discs are shock absorbing discs located in between the vertebrae that help your back stay flexible, so you can bend and twist. Degenerative Disc Disease generally occurs in the cervical spine or the lumbar spine but can happen anywhere along the spinal column. When the outer part of a disc bulges out, it causes inflammation as the proteins in the disc space irritate the surrounding nerves. The outer rings of the spinal disc, called the annulus fibrosus, can also get worn down to where they cannot absorb stress on the spine effectively, resulting in movement along the vertebral segment causing pain.
How does Degenerative Disc Disease affect the body?
Degenerative Disc Disease can present itself in different ways depending on the person. It can cause localized neck pain, numbness in the arms and hands, localized back pain, or numbness in the legs and feet. One person could be in excruciating pain and the other could have no symptoms at all. It can also lead to weakness in the leg muscles or foot drop, a possible sign of damage to the nerve root. Over time the degeneration of the spinal discs can lead to further pain and problems including adult scoliosis (the condition where the spine curves), spinal stenosis (when the spaces around the spine narrow), and herniated discs.
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- Excessive strain on the low back caused by sports, frequent heavy lifting, or labor-intensive jobs
- Smoking, or any form of nicotine intake
- Strain on the lumbar spinal discs due to prolonged sitting and/or poor posture
- Family history of back pain or musculoskeletal disorders
- Normal wear and tear due to age
- Nagging or severe pain that comes and goes
- Pain in lower back, buttocks, or upper thighs
- Pain that worsens when sitting down, ang gets better when moving and walking
- Numbness and tingling in extremities
- Epidural Steroid injections
- Heat and ice
- Physical Therapy
Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease in the Greater Austin Area
There are many different treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease ranging from medications to surgery, although there are many non-surgical options.Treatment plans will differ depending on severity of condition in each patient. Our specialties may order imaging along with a physical exam to determine the location and severity of pain which will help determine a course of action.
Luckily, non-surgical treatments exist to help treat and manage Degenerative Disc Disease. The use of medications such as NSAIDs may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation. The use of corticosteroids injections is a treatment option that your specialist may use to treat and manage pain as well. A specialist may also recommend physical therapy to work on exercises to improve core strength and to improve posture. Those experiencing Degenerative Disc Disease symptoms in Austin, TX and the surrounding areas can rely on The Greater Austin Pain Center to provide them with the treatment they need.
Am I at Risk of Developing Degenerative Disc Disease?
There are many risk factors that can put you at risk for developing Degenerative Disc Disease. Some of these are:
- Family History
- Advanced Age
- Heavy Labor
- Prolonged Sitting
Along with the risk factors listed, repetitive motion such as bending sideways, lifting, and twisting can increase the chance of developing Degenerative Disc Disease. Using your back muscles instead of leg muscles to lift heavy objects can also contribute. Degenerative Disc Disease may be seen more commonly in the elderly due to the disc becoming less flexible and more prone to injury over time. If you think you might be suffering from a Degenerative Disc Disease in Austin, TX and the surrounding areas, and if you have any of the risk factors listed above, please call to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists. We are here to work with you to help manage and treat your pain!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Degenerative Disc Disease is diagnosed after an evaluation with your doctor by conducting a physical exam, assessing symptoms, and with imaging studies such as X-rays and MRIs.
Yes! There are many pain management options that can help you to lead a normal life.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Degenerative Disc Disease. However, there are many treatment plans that can help you return to a more normal life.
Treat Your Degenerative Disc Disease at Greater Austin Pain Center
If you’re experiencing pain and discomfort from Degenerative Disc Disease in Austin, TX, reach out to the Greater Austin Pain Center. Our Degenerative Disc Disease specialists have experience in treating Degenerative Disc Disease, and we’re ready to help provide you relief from your symptoms. For Degenerative Disc Disease treatment in Austin, TX and the surrounding areas, choose the experts at Greater Austin Pain Center.