Severe and/or chronic low back and neck pain are often the result of degenerative disc disease, yet this disease can be very misunderstood.
Although not specifically a disease, Degenerative Disc Disease is often associated with aging, as your body struggles to deal with years of strain, overuse and even misuse. While primarily associated with those who are older, Degenerative Disc Disease can, on occasion, occur in those as young as 20, usually among patients who have inherited a spine which ages prematurely.
The intervertebral discs are the cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. These discs allow your spine to engage in complex motions, and are the shock absorbers of your spine. Those shock-absorbing characteristics decline with age, as the discs lose elasticity and flexibility, and become thinner. This can lead to a restriction of movement, and pain in the lower back and neck.
Causes and Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
The primary causes of Degenerative Disc Disease include aging, genetics, injury, and, in some cases, lifestyle choices. Smoking has been found to adversely affect the discs, causing them to degenerate more quickly because it decreases the amount of water in the discs, which helps them absorb movement. The symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease include:
- Pain in the legs, thighs, or buttocks;
- Lower back pain which is continuous and has lasted longer than 6 weeks;
- Neck Pain;
- Pain which is worse when sitting, or during prolonged periods of standing;
- Pain which worsens during bending, twisting or lifting motions;
- Neck pain;
- Reduced sensation of touch;
- “Pins and needles’ feeling;
- Muscle spasms;
- Injury to the nerves;
- Stiffness, and
- Difficulty walking when the disease has progressed.
Diagnosing Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative Disc Disease can be difficult to diagnose, because it generally develops gradually, and because there can be many health problems related to the Degenerative Disc Disease. Your posture and range of motion will be evaluated, as well as noting any movements which cause you pain. You may need x-rays, including flexion and extension x-rays for which you will be asked to bend forwards and backwards during the x-rays. CT scans or an MRI test may also be required.
Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease
The interventional pain management specialists at Seattle Pain will evaluate your Degenerative Disc Disease, offering you a customized, comprehensive pain treatment program. When possible, we want to help you avoid surgery, and will work toward this goal by combining traditional and non-traditional treatments, including:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs;
- Opioids for short-term relief of severe pain;
- Electrical stimulation, and
- Disc denervation—a pain procedure used to treat chronic, disc-related pain, in which the nerves causing the pain are heated and destroyed with radio frequency, modifying the nerve fibers and blocking the pain perceptions receive by the brain.
Has your back pain caused you to miss out on life?
Contact Our Seattle Interventional Pain Management Specialists
We understand that Degenerative Disc Disease pain can completely derail your life. At Seattle Pain, our primary goal is to relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. We believe in treating the whole patient – and not just the injury. You do not have to live in pain. Call us today at 253-944-1289 or complete a contact form today.