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What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is an age-related condition that occurs when one or more of the discs between the bones of the spinal cord breaks down. This natural form of deterioration is very common and is prevalent in patients who are over the age of 60. The discs in the back operate as shock absorbers as we move and twist the spine to enable comfortable movement and flexibility. Unfortunately, over time, these discs begin to shrink and lose their structural integrity, which leads to pain and discomfort in the back and/or neck. If you have been diagnosed with DDD and are tired of suffering from chronic pain, contact Tricity Pain Associates to learn about all of your options. Our skilled medical professionals can expertly assess your condition and determine the best therapies to help manage your pain. We have facilities all over the state of Texas and invite you to call us to find the location nearest you.

Lower Back Pain

Common Symptoms Of DDD

Some individuals with degenerative disc disease may not experience any symptoms while others can suffer from chronic or sudden pain that varies in severity. Typical symptoms of DDD include:

  • Pain in the lower back, buttocks, and thighs
  • Pain in the neck or shoulders
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Increased discomfort when sitting
  • Pain when bending, lifting, or twisting
  • Muscle weakness in the legs or feet

Degeneration of the intervertebral disc is a condition that results from age-related changes to the discs that serve as cushions between the vertebrae in the spine. As we get older, the discs become drier, worn down, and thinner which makes them provide less support in between the vertebrae. The discs have a tough outer layer and a soft inside, similar to a jelly donut, and with age, the outer layer can tear (annular tear). The soft material can leak out and irritate the nerve roots. The facet joints can become inflamed and even become loose (subluxation) and bone spurs can develop, causing narrowing in the spinal cord (spinal stenosis). Symptoms can include pain in the neck with possible radiation into the arm or shoulder, neck stiffness, and muscle spasms. Treatment options include exercise, physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, pain medication, heat and ice, epidural steroid injections, and surgery.

Causes Of DDD

DDD is caused by the natural tissue breakdown of the discs that lie in between the vertebrae of the spine. As we age, our bodies begin to lose strength, muscle integrity, and optimal bone health. For this reason, degenerative disc disease is more common in older men and women. With this disease, periods of severe pain in the back, neck, legs, or arms can arise and last for days or even months at a time. However, daily activities that involve routine bending and twisting of the spine and injuries of the back can also lead to DDD.

Treatments For DDD

Since there is little blood supply to the discs in the spine, once a disc is compromised, it can't be regenerated. Thanks to modern medicine, there are several treatment forms that can be used to help manage and ease your pain from DDD so you can improve your overall quality of life. Popular treatment forms for degenerative disc disease typically include anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, physical therapy, spinal mobilization, and heat/cold therapy. If your condition is severe, surgery may be suggested to help provide the relief you need.

Manage DDD

If you are having back pain or difficulty performing routine tasks due to DDD, it's time to get help from medical professionals who can give you the care you need. Tricity Pain Associates has served countless men and women with degenerative disc disease and can work with you to discover the best treatment solution for you. Our overall goal is to ease your pain with safe, effective methods so you can live a normal, healthy life. Call one of our offices in Texas today to learn more.