How degenerative disc disease causes a reduction in mobility or other severe symptoms
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) can cause you to suffer a reduction in quality of life, taking you away from the people and activities you love. In addition to symptoms like pain and numbness, DDD can lead to a loss of mobility that can make trips to grocery store or yard work difficult to impossible.
If you have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, there is a good chance you are already in an ongoing dialogue with your physician about the best way to manage your symptoms, as well as your long-term prognosis. It is important to maintain that dialogue throughout the course of your treatment, especially if the symptoms begin to change for the worse.
In many cases, a course of conservative treatment and making necessary lifestyle changes can lead to regaining mobility and a return to activities you love. Patient education is an important part of the care process and the following information can help you better partner with your physician to potentially make the best treatment decision.
How DDD symptoms change
There are a number of factors that contribute to how degenerative disc disease causes symptoms that get worse over time. The main factor is the aging process itself. As the body gets older, spinal discs become less stable. The fibrous outer wall (annulus fibrosis) becomes brittle and can tear. The inner, gel-like material (nucleus pulposus) begins to lose water content. The disc loses elasticity and height and is no longer able to support spinal movement the way it once could.
A degenerative disc does not always cause symptoms. But continued deterioration can cause conditions which can put pressure on the tightly packed nerves in the spine. Since the nerves are responsible for sending sensory and motor signals between the brain and the rest of the body, nerve compression is what actually causes the painful symptoms and limited mobility that come with degenerative disc disease. Here are some of the conditions related to degenerative disc disease which can cause painful symptoms:
If symptoms do become debilitating, physicians often prescribe a course of conservative treatment aimed to improve mobility and relieve pain. This can include physical therapy, rest, light exercise, massage and pain medication. Surgery usually isn’t considered unless weeks or months of treatment do not bring a return to normal activity.
What to do if this happens
Any worsening of symptoms should be reported immediately to your primary care physician. If degenerative disc disease causes your quality of life to become less and less bearable and you have exhausted conservative treatment options, turn to Laser Spine Institute for help. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is an alternative to traditional open back surgery offering many benefits, including a shorter recovery time,^ to our patients.
We will review your MRI or CT scan at no cost* to determine whether you might be a candidate for a minimally invasive outpatient procedure to relieve neck or back pain and other symptoms associated with DDD.