Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)
Degenerative disc disease is a common condition that naturally develops with age. Spinal discs serve as cushions between vertebrae, absorbing shock and allowing flexibility of the spine. As we age, our discs gradually lose some of their flexibility and become more fragile, resulting in degenerative discs. While degenerative discs are common, some patients may experience painful symptoms from this condition.
Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
Weakened discs can result in a herniated disc
, compression or spinal stenosis
, all of which can affect the nerves of the spinal cord. This can cause:
Back or neck pain
Radiating pain in the extremities
Numbness or tingling in the limbs
Muscle weakness and difficulty walking
The general degeneration of discs happens to virtually all people as they age. Typically, degenerative disc disease is only considered a condition in need of treatment if symptoms are present.
Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease
With age, the fibrous outer portion of discs become less elastic and more brittle. The soft, gel-like inner core of discs begin to dry and shrivel. This condition is not actually a “disease,” but a natural process that happens to everyone with age. When spinal discs become herniated or develop bone spurs, patients are more likely to experience symptoms.
Patients who smoke, are obese or perform regular activity that puts strain on the spine are at a higher risk for developing symptoms from degenerative disc disease. Trauma can also contribute to the degeneration of discs.
Diagnosis of Degenerative Disc Disease
In order to determine if the patient is suffering from degenerative disc disease, doctors will typically perform some or all of the following diagnostic procedures:
Complete physical examination
Testing flexibility and identifying symptoms
X-rays of the spine
MRI or CAT scan
After performing the necessary tests, the doctor and patient can determine the best treatment plan.
Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease
For most cases, non-surgical treatment including physical therapy, medication and rest are recommended. If nerve root compression is evident or if non-surgical techniques fail to improve symptoms, a surgical procedure may be the best treatment. There are a variety of surgical procedures
available, including minimally invasive options, depending on the severity and location of your condition.
Contact us today
to schedule an appointment or to learn more about degenerative disc disease.