What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

As the name implies, degenerative disc disease describes the process of the spinal discs degenerating or deteriorating over time from wear and tear. It can be a painful condition, causing pain, weakness, numbness, and discomfort. The most common areas affected by this condition are the neck and lower spine. This is a prevelant condition treated at pain clinics.

 

What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease?

The main cause of this condition is aging. The everyday wear and tear of life causes a range of age-related changes that can lead to disc degeneration. As we get older, for example, there is a loss of fluid in our discs. This loss of fluid makes discs thinner, causing them to become less flexible and less able to absorb shock.

Additionally, as we age, the outer layer of the disc may also become weak and crack. This can lead to the disc breaking open or bulging out.  

 

Risk Factors for Degenerative Disc Disease

Age is not the only risk factor. Obesity, smoking, and occupational hazards (i.e. heavy lifting) are also risk factors for developing degenerative disc disease. Also, injury to the spine (such as a herniated disc) can start the degeneration process.

 

Symptoms of Disc Degeneration

Pain often varies from person to person. It can be sharp and stabbing or it can be a general ache. Some people experience low grade chronic pain with severe painful flare ups. Some people with severe disc degeneration may experience moderate pain, and some people with less degeneration may experience severe pain. The amount of degeneration does not correlate to the amount of pain experienced.  

Also, depending on the location of the degeneration, symptoms can vary. Neck and back pain are common symptoms. However, pain can radiate out to different areas of the body, such as the legs or arms. Numbness and tingling may also occur in the legs and arms.

Additionally, due to the spinal instability created by the condition, muscles are often constantly tensed. This can cause muscle spasms and soreness.

 

Diagnosing the Condition

Your doctor will most likely perform a physical exam and review your medical history. The physical exam often includes a range of motion and reflex tests. An MRI scan can help diagnosis the location of disc degeneration. If you are experiencing back or neck pain, it may be time to visit a pain clinic. Pain clinics specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of painful conditions, such as disc degeneration. If you are looking for a pain clinic in Las Vegas, contact Apex Medical Center today! We specialize in pain management and giving you the pain relief you deserve.

Image courtesy of yodiyim at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Author
Apex Medical Center

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