Degenerative disc disease refers to a condition in which a spinal disc wears down and can cause a host of uncomfortable symptoms. Degenerative disc disease happens when spinal bones scrape against each other due to friction. As a result, patients experience localized pain as well as tingling, numbness, and other sensations that can travel to other parts of the body.
Discs are located throughout the spine and are enclosed by vertebrae that surround the spinal cord. The purpose of discs is to absorb shock, relieving pressure between each vertebra every time you move. The discs, which basically connect the vertebrae together, allow movement and flexibility in the spine. Twenty-three discs are located along the spinal column and any of them can break down over time. When this happens, nerves around the impacted disc are affected. This condition also increases the pressure on the rest of the spine’s structures, which can cause further spinal damage in the future.
The structure discs is integral to their function, and when altered, it can lead to degeneration.
A disc’s outer structure is called Annulus Fibrosus and is hard. The inner core of a disc is called Nucleus Pulposus and has a gelatinous consistency. The discs are mostly composed of water. As the discs become less hydrated with age, they lose pliability and weaken. As a result, discs become unstable and the inner core of the discs begin to leak outside, causing a structural change, which is recognized as a herniated disc. This causes inflammation and stress on nearby nerves, which can lead to pain not only in the back but also the extremities.
There are many causes of degenerative disc disease. The most common ones are aging and genetics. These factors can increase your risk of the condition. Another common cause is osteoarthritis.
Degenerative disc disease is often connected to osteoarthritis. Both cause bone on bone friction, but it is uncertain which condition develops first. Osteoarthritis could cause degenerative disc disease, and osteoarthritis can also be a symptom of degenerative disc disease.
There are some risk factors that can increase your risk of developing degenerative disc disease. They include obesity and strenuous physical activities, which increase the pressure on spinal discs. Other risk factors include smoking tobacco and spine injuries.
If you’re experiencing chronic pain in the back, you may have degenerative disc disease. However, it is almost impossible to self-diagnose yourself correctly. It is important for you to visit an orthopedic physician who can assess your symptoms and perform a proper examination to give you an accurate diagnosis. Fortunately, degenerative disc disease is treatable through medications, physical therapy, surgery, and other treatments.
Degenerative Disc Disease Treatments in Johnson City, Tennessee
If you are experiencing pain or other symptoms in your back, talk to the experts at Watauga Orthopaedics. Our experts have a wealth of experience diagnosing and treating a variety of orthopedic conditions and injuries, including degenerative disc disease.
To make an appointment, call (423) 282-9011. You can also request an appointment online.