Degenerative Disc Disease
A Common Cause of Acute or Chronic Back Pain
As we get older, the discs in our back go through a natural aging process. For many, this occurs without causing any noticeable symptoms. However, for others it can be the source of persistent lower back or neck pain.Those most commonly affected are 30 to 60 years of age.
Understanding Degerative Disc Disease
Degeneration of the disc occurs as the condition of the discs in the spine gradually changes over time. It is one of the most prevalent causes of acute or chronic back pain. You may experience only a few days of pain, or you may suffer prolonged, moderate to severe, recurrent pain. Most discogenic pain occurs in the lumbar spine (lower back).When pain occurs, it may be spontaneous or it may result from an activity. The most frequent symptoms of discogenic pain are lower back pain and spasm. Occasionally, pain may radiate to the buttocks, groin, or thighs. Typically, the pain is made worse by bending, sitting, or standing in a stationary position, and often relieved by lying down. However, mild activity such as walking may actually provide some relief. Certain tasks, such as lifting or bending, will likely make the symptoms worse.
Why Discogenic Back Pain Occurs
The lumbar (lower) spine has five vertebrae with soft discs in between. Each disc is composed of a tough outer ring (annulus) surrounding a soft center (nucleus). When we are young, the discs consist predominantly of water (about 80%), but as we age, the discs lose hydration and become more susceptible to cracking and fissures called annular tears. These tears lead to inflammation and pain.
Lasting Pain Relief Without Surgery
Anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy are generally the first steps in treating discogenic back pain. If these conservative measures fail to bring significant relief, there are non-surgical options that are often successful in providing long lasting relief. Epidural nerve blocks* (epidural corticosteroid injections) are very effective in resolving discogenic pain.