Although there are many problems that can occur with the discs in the spine, one of the common issues that takes place as we get older is degenerative disc disease. In reality, it is not a disease but rather, occurs because the discs become brittle with age and are more likely to herniate. It is one of the most common diagnoses of severe back pain, but it is something that is readily treated.
There are a number of issues that can lead to degenerative disc disease, but it is often a problem associated with your age. It tends to occur in people who are over the age of 35 and you may be more likely to experience a problem if you have a family history of the issue. Taking care of your back before a problem occurs is often the best course of action if someone in your family has this problem. Your lifestyle may also contribute to a problem with degenerative disc disease as well.
What Are the Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease does not necessarily have any symptoms in and of itself, but it does make it more likely for you to injure your back, which would lead to some of the following symptoms.
The most obvious and frequently seen symptom of degenerative disc disease is back pain, or neck pain, depending upon the disc that is being affected. Being diagnosed with a herniated disc or having vertebral fractures may also be an issue for those who suffer from this problem as well. Many individuals who suffer from this difficulty appear to be hunched over, due to the fact that it can relieve some of the pressure that may otherwise be pressing on the nerves in the area.
Through a physical exam and a look at your medical history, your physician will be able to start the diagnosis process and in some cases, can accurately diagnose a problem with this condition. More extensive diagnostic techniques may be necessary, however, including an x-ray or an MRI. The x-ray would allow your physician to see the bone structure and the spaces between the bones but an MRI provides a more detailed view, including the soft tissue, such as the intervertebral disc. A number of other treatment options may also be considered, including the possibility for pain relieving injections that can pinpoint the difficulty more accurately if a surgery were to take place.
The treatment options for this issue may differ from one individual to another, but the most common type of treatment is known as a spinal fusion. During the spinal fusion procedure, two of the vertebrae are fused together to keep them from rotating. Unfortunately, this type of procedure is not always successful and it can result in mobility reduction. Artificial disc implantation is another option that may be considered, and it may be able to help the issue with fewer possibilities for problems. Your physician will discuss any potential techniques that can help you to overcome this difficult problem.