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Degenerative Disc Disease

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease is not as much a disease as it is a name for the changes that can happen to the spine as we age.

The intervertebral disc is comprised of a thick outer fibrous ring called the anulus fibrosis, and an inner gel like material called the nucleus pulposus. They sit between the vertebrae and function as ligaments, and in specific terms, as shock absorbers. As we age, the spinal discs begin to degenerate, primarily losing moisture and thinning. This can lead to disc injury, including disc protrusion and herniation, spinal stenosis, and spinal nerve root compression.

Degenerative Disc Symptoms

The degeneration of intervertebral discs may cause minimal symptoms to significant pain, and symptoms depend on each patient and the severity of their case.

Pain may occur at the site of the affected disc, most commonly in the lumbar spine, but also in the neck. As the pain is often caused by compressed nerves, this pain can also travel to other areas of the body like the buttocks, arms, and legs. Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs may also be experienced. Pain can range from mild to severe and debilitating.

Degenerative Disc Causes

As mentioned previously, our spines can degenerate as a natural part of aging. Tears in the tougher outer layer of the disc are common as we grow older. and when the discs begin to lose fluid, they become smaller and less flexible.

In addition to aging, other factors that may come into play, including obesity, smoking, repeated physical work, and injury.

Degenerative Disc Treatment

Pain caused by degeneration is often treated with hot or cold packs and an anti inflammatory medication. When disc degeneration causes problems like herniated or bulging discs, spinal stenosis, or osteoarthritis, spinal decompression utilizing the Cox Decompression Technic is often very effective in managing these conditions. While degenerative disc disease is a natural part of aging, there are things you can do to prevent pain and stay healthy. If you areexperiencing frequent back or neck pain, be sure to visit our office for an examination so we can create a treatment plan for you.

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