If pain in your back is compromising your quality of life, you are not alone. More than 100 million Americans suffer from some form of back pain which can range from moderate to severe. However there are many different reasons that can be causing your pain. It could be caused by such factors as injury, heredity, illness and age. And for many, a common cause of back pain is degenerative disc disease.
What is Degenerative disc disease?
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a general term used to describe changes that can occur along any area of the spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar) as you grow older, but is most common in the lumbar area. It's not actually a disease, but rather a condition in which your discs "degenerate," or lose their flexibility and ability to cushion your spine. As you age your discs begin to dry out and shrink and this loss of flexibility puts more stress and wear on your spine.
The most common symptom of degenerative disc disease is localized back or neck pain. When DDD causes compression of the nerve roots, the pain often radiates down the arm or leg. Tingling and/or numbness may also be felt. In more severe cases of cervical or lumbar DDD, where there is evidence of nerve root compression, individuals may experience motor weakness.
Treatment for Degenerative disc disease
Primary management for DDD is non-operative and includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). Physical therapy is most often used.
Physical therapy may include exercise programs to strengthen abdominal and spinal musculature, improve aerobic fitness and preserve the normal inherent curvatures of the spine. Exercise is very helpful for the pain associated with degenerative disc disease, and it may help decrease symptoms.
Cortisone Injection may be of benefit if progress has reached a plateau with conservative management. Typically cortisone will be used. It is commonly injected along with a local anesthetic in order to reduce inflammation in the affected areas. Cortisone is long lasting and can be slow-releasing in order to give the best possible benefits of pain relief.
An epidural steroid injection is a common type of injection that is given to provide relief from certain types of low back and neck pain. The "epidural space" is the space between the covering of the spinal cord and the inside of the bony spinal canal. It runs the entire length of your spine. When injected into this area the medication moves freely up and down the spine to coat the nerve roots and the outside lining of the facet joints near the area of injection.
For more information on treatment for Degenerative disc disease, contact Franklin Pain and Wellness Center.