During the aging process, our intervertebral discs begin to lose the water that makes up approximately 90 percent of their mass. As this happens, the discs begin to shrink, increasing the pressure on the disc from the surrounding vertebrae. Though it is called a “disease,” it is beneficial to understand that this condition is a very normal part of growing older. For most patients with degenerative disc disease, no pain is ever experienced, and the condition will go undiagnosed. However, if the pressure placed on the disc caused it to bulge or herniate, the disc material can then compress or irritate surrounding nerve roots or the spinal cord, causing immense pain and discomfort.
Treatment for degenerative disc disease
Though degenerative disc disease itself does not cause pain, the conditions caused by the process of degeneration may include bulging disc or herniated discs. These conditions may cause the patient to feel pain, numbness, weakness and tingling around the area of the compression or in corresponding body parts. Before opting for spine surgery, patients should exhaust all conservative treatment options. These include:
- Alternative methods – Alternative conservative treatments can include yoga, stretching and acupuncture.
- Anti-inflammatory medicine – Anti-inflammatory medicine can reduce swelling and often lower a patient’s overall discomfort.
- Epidural injections – These injections are often referred to as “nerve blocks.” These are steroid injections into a specific area of the back to ease pain.
- Exercise – The process to recover from pain includes strengthening your muscles. This will help with the stability of your neck or back over time. Talk to your physician about finding an exercise routine that is right for you and your conditions.
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy can assist patients in getting back to their daily routine by learning how to approach day-to-day activities in a safer manner.
- Rest – If you are dealing with a new onset of pain or discomfort, the first step you should take is to rest. More than 90 percent of people who experience back pain find relief within the first three weeks through rest and conservative treatment.
Minimally invasive alternative
If after trying all conservative options you are still in pain, contact Laser Spine Institute. We have effective minimally invasive procedures specialized to treat the symptoms and conditions associated with degenerative disc disease. Call today to receive a review of your MRI or CT scan to see if you may be a candidate for one of our minimally invasive treatments.