Degenerative disc disease causes some painful symptoms even though it is a normal part of the aging process. However, you do not have to bear its symptoms because there are minimally invasive treatment options available to alleviate pain, leaving you feeling more comfortable. That is why degenerative disc in Shrewsbury is treated and managed by a team of specialists who are experienced in providing quality care.
What is degenerative disc disease?
Degenerative disc disease is part of the aging process where the intervertebral discs lose their elasticity, flexibility, and shock-absorbing characteristics. The annulus fibrosis, which are the outer fibers surrounding the discs, become brittle hence easily torn. At the same time, the nucleus pulposus, which is a soft gel-like center, begins drying out and shrinking. Therefore a combination of the damage to your intervertebral disc through the development of bone spurs and gradual thickening of ligaments that support the spinal cord can cause degenerative arthritis of your lumbar spine.
It is a process that happens to everyone to a certain degree, but not everyone who has degenerative changes in their lumbar spine experiences pain. Most people with normal backs have MRIs that show disc herniation, narrowed spinal canals, and degenerative changes. It is also essential to note that every patient is different and that not everyone will develop symptoms because of a degenerative disease.
What are some of the symptoms of degenerative disc disease?
When degenerative disc disease becomes symptomatic or painful, it can cause various symptoms because of the compression of the nerve roots. The degenerative disc can cause symptoms depending on where it is located. Therefore it can cause radiating leg pain, radiating arm pain, back pain, and neck pain. The above symptoms are due to the fact that worn-out discs are the source of pain because their function is altered, and as they shrink, the space available for the nerve roots also shrinks. As the discs between the intervertebral bodies begin to wear out, the whole of your lumbar spine becomes less flexible. It may, therefore, result in back stiffness and pain, especially towards the end of the day.
How is degenerative disc disease diagnosed?
The diagnosis begins with a complete physical examination where the doctor examines your back for range of motion, flexibility, and presence of certain signs that suggest nerve roots have been affected by degenerative disc disease. It also involves testing the strength of your muscles and reflexes to ensure that they are working normally. Similarly, a series of x-rays may also be done for patients experiencing back pain. When degenerative disc disease is present, the x-ray shows a narrow space between the vertebral bodies indicating the disc has become collapsed or thin. At times bone spurs can also form around the vertebral bodies and at the edge of the facet joints of your spine. Under an x-ray, these bone spurs can be seen and are referred to as osteophytes.
In other cases, an MRI or CT scan can be done to help evaluate the degenerative disc changes within your lumbar spine completely. A CT scan is performed to evaluate the bone anatomy in your spine, while an MRI is used to determine where disc herniation has occurred.
In summary, if you are also interested in learning more about the treatment options available for degenerative disc disease like medication, exercise, rest, and physical therapy, visit or call the Center for the Functional Restoration of the Spine today.