Can Degenerative Discs Heal On Their Own?

Can Degenerative Discs Heal On Their Own?

by Yenny (SU)

Spinal discs act as shock absorbers, and sit between the bones of the spine (called vertebrae). The discs help the spine stay flexible as you move, bend, and twist. As we age, the discs become less able of providing the necessary cushioning and support to the bones of the spine. The breakdown of the discs is the result, a condition called degenerative disc disease. It causes inflammation, pain, and reduced flexibility and mobility in the back. 

Wear and tear, arthritis, and the natural thinning of spinal discs can all lead to degenerative disc disease. As we age, we lose fluid in our spinal discs. This causes the discs to become flatter overtime, making them less effective in absorbing shock and providing cushion to the vertebrae. It happens slowly and people are more likely as they age to experience back pain because of it. However, back pain may not appear until the condition has progressed significantly. 

In addition, degenerative disc disease can result in cracks in the outer wall of the spine, which keeps the vertebrae and discs in place. When this happens, spinal discs can push through, leading to bulging or herniated discs. 

Does Degenerative Disc Disease Heal on Its Own? 

No, degenerative disc disease cannot heal on its own.

Many treatments for degenerative disc disease focus on reducing symptoms. Some people experience more severe or longer-lasting symptoms than others. Some people with degenerative disc disease are able to live most of their lives without back pain, while others may experience back pain due to degenerative disc disease as early as when they are in their 40s.

There are a variety of treatments that can help reduce symptoms caused by degenerative disc disease such as: 

·       Medications – Over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription medications can reduce inflammation can help reduce pain. 

·       Physical therapy – Physical therapy can help make neck and back muscles strong, so they can support the spine better. This reduces the pressure on the discs and can help reduce overall back pain.

·       Steroid injections – For individuals with severe back pain caused by degenerative disc disease, oral medications may not be enough. Steroid shots are a viable treatment option for these individuals as it is a stronger, more targeted medication that reduces pain, swelling, and inflammation in the spine. 

·       Surgery – In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat degenerative disc disease. In cases of severe degeneration, orthopedic surgeons may replace damaged discs with artificial ones that can provide the cushioning the spine needs to move pain-free. 

If you suffer from back pain and think you may have degenerative disc disease, talk to an orthopedic physician to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment options best suited for you.

Watauga Orthopaedics has expertise in general orthopedic care, sports medicine, physical therapy, and rehabilitation. Their comprehensive musculoskeletal continuum includes innovative treatments for a plethora of orthopedic conditions. If you have an orthopedic condition like degenerative disc disease, Watauga Orthopaedics would love to help you get effective treatments. Call (423) 282-9011 today to make an appointment. You can also request an appointment online.