Aging and its relationship to discogenic pain

Discogenic pain is a term that refers to the pain caused by conditions originating in the spinal discs, such as a herniated disc, bulging disc or degenerative disc disease.

While there are many causes for a damaged disc and discogenic pain in the spine, the most common cause is natural aging. Over time, as the spine wears down and weakens with age, the discs in the spine may begin to lose some of their water content and deteriorate. This makes them less able to withstand the pressure placed on them by the surrounding vertebrae and can lead to damage and the development of symptoms.

How age-related disc conditions cause pain

As the discs in your spine slowly wear down, a number of degenerative disc conditions can occur. One example is a herniated disc which occurs when inner disc material pushes through a tear in the tougher outer layer. Degenerative disc conditions don’t necessarily cause symptoms, but there is nervous tissue in the discs that can become inflamed or irritated from a tear or from herniated disc material, resulting in local discogenic pain.

Spinal discs that have degenerated due to the natural aging process can also cause pain and other symptoms by compressing surrounding spinal nerves. If a herniated or bulging disc puts pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root, it can cause shooting pain along the nerve pathway and disruption of sensory information that results in tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. These symptoms can be experienced both locally in the neck and back, as well as in the upper and lower extremities.

Treatment options for discogenic pain

For many patients suffering from discogenic pain and other symptoms related to a degenerative disc in the spine, conservative treatments provide effective pain relief. Talk to your doctor about ways you can relieve your pain and symptoms without undergoing spine surgery.

Your physician may recommend you try a series of conservative treatments, including:

  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medication
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • Lifestyle changes like weight loss and low-impact exercises

While these nonsurgical treatments help many patients find relief, not all patients find these methods effective. If you’ve tried conservative treatment for a few months and your pain has not reduced, your doctor may recommend spine surgery to treat your condition.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization spine surgery to treat the most common degenerative spine conditions, including those that cause discogenic pain. Our board-certified surgeons+ use muscle-sparing techniques that allow these procedures to be performed on an outpatient basis, offering many benefits to our patients.

To learn more, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We can review your MRI at no-cost* to help you find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.