Discogenic syndrome overview

While the term discogenic syndrome may sound intimidating, it has a straightforward definition: pain or other symptoms that originate from an issue with a spinal disc. The pain can be localized, meaning that it stays in the spot of the nerve irritation, or radiating, meaning that it appears in parts of the body other than the origin site. Discogenic pain is often caused by the bulging, herniation or thinning of a disc.

If you have been diagnosed with discogenic syndrome and it is affecting your ability to do everyday tasks like grocery shopping or working in the yard, educating yourself is a big step in finding relief. As you partner with your physician to develop a care plan, knowing about the causes of your condition and the full range of treatment options can hopefully get you the help you need to return to a fuller and more active life.

Discogenic syndrome causes

The spine is made of a stack of bones called vertebrae which are linked by joints and cushioned by round flat discs that act as shock absorbers, letting the spine bend and flex. Discogenic syndrome is mainly caused by the discs drying out over time and becoming more vulnerable to deterioration from everyday activity.

These discogenic changes, also called degenerative disc disease, are not painful unless a damaged or misshapen disc puts pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord. Along with local pain or irritation, radiating symptoms can occur depending on which region of the spine is affected:

  • Cervical — Nerve compression in the upper spine, running from the base of the skull to the top of the ribcage, causes symptoms such as tingling or numbness in the neck, shoulders arms and hands.
  • Thoracic — The middle spine is less prone to discogenic syndrome because it is fixed to the ribcage, but a pinched nerve here can cause radiating symptoms in the chest and abdomen.
  • Lumbar — The lower spine is a common source of disc issues and related nerve compression because it supports so much weight and movement. Burning pain, muscle weakness, tingling and numbness can travel the length of the compressed nerve into the lower body.

Discogenic syndrome is usually diagnosed through a physical examination and an X-ray or MRI that is taken for patients complaining of persistent neck or back pain and mobility problems. While the underlying condition is not reversible, the symptoms can be treated through various means.

Treating discogenic syndrome

Most doctors attempt nonsurgical treatments first and consider spine surgery only as your last resort. Rest, cortisone injections, massage and physical therapy can all help you to manage discogenic pain. However, if these methods prove ineffective after several weeks or months and surgery is being considered, reach out to Laser Spine Institute for more information about minimally invasive spine surgery.

Our procedures use muscle-sparing techniques to access the spine and decompress nerves, leading to fewer complications, a shorter recovery period^ and less scarring for our patients compared to traditional open spine surgery.

Contact Laser Spine Institute for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.