Disc Deterioration & Degenerative Disc Disease
Disc deterioration resulting in Degenerative Disc Disease is not a disease, per se, but a description of the different reasons a disc can break down in your back. It is also known as degenerative disc disease, but this is really a catch-all term that can cover quite a few diseases. At BASIC Spine, we will look at your disc problems from a purely objective stand point and help you to find the best treatment for your deteriorating discs.
To understand disc deterioration, it is important to understand what a disc is and does. Your back is made up of 33 flat bones called vertebrae. Between each vertebra is a flat, jelly-filled disc that cushions your bones. When you move your back, the bones slide over each other easily because the disc is there to help them glide together. When these discs break down and deteriorate, pain and stiffness of the back are sure to follow.
Three main disease processes can cause your discs to deteriorate. One cause is arthritis in the joints of your back. This is the breakdown of the protective lining between the vertebrae, and it can cause pain and an inability to move your back through its complete range of motion.
Another possible condition to cause disc deterioration is a herniated disc. This is caused by a disc breaking free of the membrane that surrounds it and generally losing its cushioning. The disc becomes unable to help the bones slide against each other, causing pain.
The last cause of disc deterioration is spinal stenosis. This is when the track down the inside of the vertebrae and discs becomes narrowed. When there is no room for the spinal cord, the discs press against the cord and cause pain.
Most of these problems with deteriorating discs occur as a normal function of aging. As you get older, the discs lose some of the water content within them, and that makes them brittle. When the discs cannot cushion your spine, they break open and deteriorate, pushing on nerves, and causing pain. You can also experience disc deterioration from overuse. When you put a great deal of pressure on the discs, they can develop tears and herniate against nerves. This is often seen in athletes who are not old enough to have the deterioration from age.
Pain is the primary symptom of a deteriorating disc. However, some people have no pain at all, and do not have any symptoms. When your disc deteriorates, you will lose the cushioning between the vertebrae, and this can cause you to have pain localized to your back.
When the disc deteriorates to the point that it herniates, or bulges from its place, then you may experience pain that is associated with a nerve. For instance, if your lower back has a bulging disc, it can impinge on the nerve that goes into your leg. You will not only experience back pain, but leg pain as well in this scenario. Stiffness and trouble moving your back or neck through their entire range of motion are other common signs that you have disc deterioration.
At the Brain and Spine Institute of California we believe in using the least invasive methods to help your deteriorating discs. For instance, we will recommend over the counter medications, such as ibuprofen, before graduating to a narcotic pain medication. In addition, we feel that therapy, chiropractic, and exercises are important for strengthening your back and helping your discs to heal on their own.
We understand, though, that not all back pain responds to less invasive treatments. That's why we have two prominent spinal surgeons on staff, Dr. G. "Ty" Thaiyananthan and Dr. Bryan Oh, to consult with you regarding possible surgery for your disc deterioration. You may need to have the disc removed, and the two adjacent vertebrae fused together. In some cases, a prosthetic disc can be used to replace the injured one, but this type of surgery is not commonly performed at present. We also take great care to use the least invasive surgical approaches possible and cutting edge technology.
Having a problem with a deteriorating disc? Come into the BASIC offices for a consultation about your back pain. We have pain management professionals on staff who can help you overcome your pain and find the best course of treatment for you.
With BASIC, there is no reason to suffer with back pain anymore.
- Back Pain
- Brachial Plexus Injuries
- Cervical Radiculopathy
- Lumbar Radiculopathy
- Compression Fractures
- Degenerative Disc Disease (Cervical and Lumbar)
- Facet Joint Syndrome
- Failed Back or Neck Syndrome
- Herniated Disc
- Lower Back Pain
- Nerve Impingement
- Spinal Infection
- Spinal Canal Stenosis (Cervical and Lumbar)
- Spinal Cord Compression
- Spina Bifida
- Cervical Neck Pain
- Lumbar Back Pain
- Lumbar Disc Herniation
- Other Ultra-Invasive Styles
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)
- Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF)
- Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
- Artificial Disc Replacement
- Endoscopic Spine Surgery
- Posterior Cervical Foraminotomy
- Micro Endoscopic Lumbar Discectomy
- Micro Endoscopic Cervical Discectomy
- Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF®)
- Interlaminar Lumbar Instrumented Fusion (ILIF™)
- Facet Joint Injections
- Pain Pumps
- Spinal Cord Implants
- MILD Procedure (Minimally Invasive Lumbar Decompression)
- Ultra Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Spinal Surgery
- Compression Fracture (Cervical/Thoracic/Lumbar)
- Headaches (Migraines, Tension, Cluster)
- Heel Spur
- Medial Lateral Epicondylitis
- Myofacial Pain Syndrome
- Occipital Neuralgia
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Postherpetic Neuralgia
- Sacroiliac Joint Disease
- Slipped Rib Syndrome
- Shoulder/Hip/Knee/Ankle/Wrist pain
- Trigeminal Neuralgia