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Dr G. Balamurali is a well known spinal neurosurgeon in Chennai with more than 17 years of experience in neuro and minimally invasive spine surgery.

Degenerative Disc Diseases: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Discs, lying between the spinal vertebrae that allow the flexibility and bending of the back, wear down with increasing age. When one or more of this rubbery disc deteriorates, an excruciating pain, numbness and weakness radiate down the legs. What causes these degenerative diseases and what are the symptoms that identify this disease? What are the treatments possible for neurodegenerative disc diseases? Keep on reading to get the answers to these questions.

Causes, Symptoms and Treatments for degenerative disc diseases

Spinal discs or intervertebral discs are elastic structures made up of fibrocartilage tissues that provide padding between the spine vertebrae. They act as the shock absorbers that help the spine to move, bend, and bear weights. Repeated stresses and occasional minor injuries can damage these discs as an individual ages. Loss of fluid and changes in the disc structure attributes to the weakening of the spinal discs. The fluid content of the disc tends to decrease as people age and thereby makes the disc thinner and closer. Similarly, minor cracks or tears in the disc also lead to the bulging of discs causing the breakage of discs.

All these conditions induce the weakening of spines and tiny projections develop along the bones pressing against the spinal cord. This produces severe pain and discomfort along with weakness and numbness down the legs.

Though the age factor is the primary cause of degenerations, conditions like obesity, smoking, taxing physical activities or injuries can also lead to the disorder. The pains associated with this disease may start with minor or significant damage and worsens with time.

Symptoms of degenerative disc disorders

Though the symptoms start in the spine, with age, the symptoms affect other parts as well. Following are the symptoms associated with the disease.

  • Damage to the lumbar spine or lower back can cause pain to spread through the buttocks and upper thighs. You may also experience numbness, and tingling in the legs and feet.
  • Damaged discs near to the neck or cervical spine can cause the pain radiating to shoulders, arms and hand.
  • Painful muscle spasms, especially in the lower back or neck, make the spine unstable.
  • A gush of intense pain can hamper your daily life. The pains worsen while sitting, bending, twisting, or lifting.
Treatments for degenerative disc disease

Occupational therapy, physiotherapy, exercises, medications, weight loss mechanisms, and surgeries are the primary treatment methods for treating degenerative disc diseases. The primary treatments for the disorder are as follows

  • Facet joint injections, which involve injecting steroids and local anaesthetics next to the impaired discs, can provide immediate pain relief.
  • Facet rhizotomy is a process of passing radiofrequency current to weaken the nerves around facet joints to prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. The pain reliefs last only up to a year.
  • Intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty (IDET) involves catheter insertion into the disc and heating it. During this process, the collagens contract to repair the disc and can alleviate the pain immensely.
  • The physicians prescribe pain relief medications such as Tylenol, NSAIDs like ibuprofen, steroids, and muscle relaxers.
  • A brace or corset can also provide support for the spine.
  • Slight exercises can also stabilize and strengthen the area around the affected area and increase mobility
  • Surgeries are advised for patients who do not recover from conservative therapies. Stabilization or spinal fusion surgery and decompression surgery are two types of surgeries recommended for patients.

Read More : Meet Your Doctor Immediately If You Are Facing These

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