Lumbar discogenic disease refers to the gradual deterioration of the discs that separate the large vertebrae in the lower back (lumbar spine). This condition is an extremely common source of lower back pain, particularly in older patients, and isn’t as much a disease as it is a regular byproduct of the natural aging process.
The lumbar spine
The lumbar spine in the lower back is comprised of five (or sometimes six) vertebrae that are separated and cushioned by soft intervertebral discs. These vertebrae bear the burden of supporting most of the upper body’s weight and are also the most flexible in the entire body. This combination of stress and flexibility makes lower back pain extremely common in people of all ages. Lumbar discogenic disease is a condition wherein the spongy intervertebral discs in the lower back begin to thin and weaken as a result of years of wear and tear, and explains the gradual loss of flexibility that we all experience as we grow older.
An interesting aspect of lumbar discogenic disease is that not all patients will know they have the condition. A degenerated disc isn’t necessarily symptomatic, but could be if disc material comes into contact with the disc’s outer wall, the spinal cord or one of the nerve roots in the spinal column. When this occurs, a number of symptoms can follow, including local pain, muscle weakness, traveling pain and sciatica.
In most cases, treatment of lumbar discogenic disease consists of conservative, non-surgical options, such as:
- Proper stretching
- Targeted exercises
- Pain medication, anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants
- Posture improvement
- Healthy diet
- Heat or ice therapy
Further treatment of lumbar discogenic disease is only recommended when the patient has not experienced sufficient pain relief from several weeks of conservative treatment. If you are considering your various options, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures as an alternative to traditional open spine surgery.