Degenerative Disc Disease

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If you are over 20 and have pain in your lower back or neck, you may have degenerative disc disease. This article will help you to identify if you have this painful condition and the types of treatments available.

If you feel discomfort and pain in your spine and want to know more about available treatment options, contact one of our offices at JIS Orthopedics today! We have locations in New Albany and St. Clairsville, Ohio for your convenience.

Our expert orthopedic specialists will educate you about the cause of your spine pain and provide a treatment plan that can help relieve pain. Give us a call or book your visit online!

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease is a condition that can usually be identified by pain resulting from the wearing down of spinal discs.

Your spinal discs are found between your vertebrae. They are similar to rubbery cushions that function like shock absorbers.

It is normal for your spinal disks to wear down over time. However, when the damage reaches the point that bones rub together, this can begin to cause pain. At his point, you may have already developed degenerative disc disease.

Intervertebral disc degeneration can cause further spine problems, such as:

  • Herniated discs
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Adult scoliosis
  • Spondylolisthesis

What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease?

All spinal discs are subject to wear and tear over time. Disc degeneration generally starts to occur after 20 years of age. You may begin to experience pain for the following reasons:

  • Your discs become dry: The core of your spinal discs is mainly made up of water. As you age, they can dry out and lose their effectiveness at absorbing shocks.
  • Your discs tear or crack: Cracks or tears can form as a result of minor injuries. Tears can be very painful because of their proximity to nerves. Cracks can cause a herniated disc which can put pressure on your spinal nerve.

The following factors can all contribute towards degenerative disease:

  • Age-related degeneration
  • Injury or trauma to the spine
  • Repetitive motion
  • Hereditary factors
  • Smoking
  • Poor posture
  • Obesity

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

Several symptoms may indicate that you have degenerative disc disease. The following lists some of the possible symptoms you may feel:

  • Pain or numbness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, or feet
  • Muscle weakness and/or loss of balance
  • Loss of flexibility in the spine
  • Difficulty standing up straight or walking
  • Pain that worsens with activity
  • Grinding or popping sensation when moving the spine
  • Muscle spasms in the lower back
  • Sharp pain while bending forward

How is Degenerative Disc Disease Identified?

Most patients suffer from either cervical or lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration affecting either your cervical or lumbar spine.

You could feel pain in the following ways:

  • Lower back pain or neck pain
  • Extending into your arms or legs
  • Pain may start and stop
  • Could get worse after bending or twisting
  • Pain that gets worse over time

Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease

There are several treatment options for degenerative disc disease. Treatments aim to provide pain relief and slow down the degeneration of the disc disease.

Some of the treatments include the following:

  • Physical Therapy: Strengthening and mobility exercises are given during physical therapy sessions.
  • Aerobic Exercise: Low-impact exercise, like walking, swimming, or cycling, can help.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease Exercises: Exercises that help strengthen the muscles to support the spine.
  • Muscle Relaxers: These help decrease pain by relaxing tight muscles surrounding the spine.
  • Spinal Fusion: This surgical procedure uses hardware to fuse two or more vertebrae.

Can Degenerative Disc Disease Be Prevented?

Looking after your spinal health can help prevent or slow down degenerative disc disease. A balance of strengthening and stretching exercises for your abdominal muscles and back muscles can help.

The following are some of the names of specific exercises that could help:

  • Cat stretch: This stretch can relieve pressure on your hips.
  • Bird dog stretch: Helps stretch your lower back, hips, and thighs while engaging your core.
  • Hamstring stretches: Flexible hamstrings help relieve pressure from your vertebrae.
  • Back extension exercises: Build lower back strength to support your spine.

Schedule an Appointment with Us Today!

If you feel discomfort and pain in your spine and want to know about available treatment options, contact our team of experts at JIS Orthopedics today! We have locations in New Albany and St. Clairsville, OH for your convenience.

Our expert orthopedic specialists can answer any questions or concerns regarding the cause of your chronic low back pain. Call us today or book your appointment online!

Medically reviewed by Derek Snook, MD

Seeing a Spine Specialist

Even if you follow steps to help protect your spine, injuries can still happen. When they do, schedule an appointment with Dr. Derek Snook at JIS Orthopedics! Scheduling an appointment earlier can help shorten your recovery and get you back to the thins you love.  We want to help you live without limits!


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