Degenerative disc disease pain

Degenerative disc disease pain affects more than 65 million individuals across the world, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. However, the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery estimates that by the age of 50, about 85 percent of Americans will have some form of degenerative disc disease (DDD), even though they may not experience any symptoms.

As the spine wears down over time, certain spine conditions like degenerative disc disease may develop and cause pain.

Why do some cases cause pain and others don’t present any symptoms?

Our spine is made up of vertebrae, discs, joints, ligaments and muscles. The spinal discs are soft cushions in between the vertebrae, and when functioning correctly, the discs protect our spine and act as ligaments to join adjacent vertebrae.

As we age, it’s common for discs to weaken as they lose their natural moisture — typical factors of degenerative disc disease. Common symptoms include traveling pain, localized pain, numbness and tingling around the spine and in the extremities, but only if disc damage compresses the spinal nerves.

Conditions that may cause nerve compression include bulging or herniated discs, spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis, among others.

Degenerative disc disease pain can vary depending on the location of damage. Types of degenerative disc pain include:

  • Lumbar disc pain — This includes disc damage in the lower back affecting nerves that control sensation in the buttocks, legs and feet. You may experience pain that shoots down the back of the leg, around to the calf and down through the toes due to sciatic nerve pressure.
  • Thoracic disc pain — You may feel pain near the rib cage, sternum, torso and inner arms. You may also feel discomfort when twisting, arching or bending your back. Numbness or tingling may occur.
  • Cervical disc pain — This includes the upper neck and back. Damage to discs between the cervical vertebrae may result in pain, tingling or loss of feeling in the neck or shoulders. Since these vertebrae link the spine to the head, problems with neck coordination may occur.

Treatment for degenerative disc disease pain

If you believe degenerative disc disease is causing your pain and other symptoms, we recommend you consult your primary care physician. Your doctor may perform a physical exam and an MRI or CT scan to confirm your diagnosis and help determine which treatments are available for you.

Your physician may recommend a series of nonsurgical treatments, such as medication, physical therapy, exercise, hot/cold therapy or other nonsurgical options.

If these options are unsuccessful at providing you sufficient relief, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery can help release the pressure on the compressed nerves in your spine without the highly invasive nature or increased risks of traditional open back surgery.

In fact, our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures are performed on an outpatient basis with no lengthy recovery^. Because these are outpatient procedures, our patients can return to their homes or hotels within hours after surgery.

Contact us today to take the next step toward finding relief from your chronic pain. We offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.