In medicine, the back is categorized into three parts; the cervical spine, the thoracic spine, and the lumbar spine, which is the lowest section.
All parts of the spine contain vertebrae that bear the weight of your back. These vertebrae are separated by intervertebral discs that act as shock absorbers in the body. In a healthy state, they are flexible to allow you to move around for daily activities, and they support your spine.
These spinal discs sometimes get damaged from wear and tear. While this happens to every human, not everyone feels pain from it. If your spinal disc is worn out and causing you pain, you may have degenerative disc disease.
Causes of Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
1)Your body’s spinal discs have a soft core that can get inflamed. When this happens, the proteins in the spinal disc can act against the nerves that connect to your legs and cause pain in your back and lower body.
2) At birth, the spinal discs are made of water. But this water dries out as you age, causing the discs to be flatter and less able to support your vertebra. This can cause other spine problems that translate to pain.
3) Injuries and aging can wear out the outer rings of your spinal discs. If this occurs near a nerve, it causes pain in the lower back.
4) When the outer rings of your spinal disc are worn out and unable to absorb stress in your spine, it may cause you chronic pain, especially if they are inflamed.
5) if the walls of your spinal discs break down, the soft core it is made of may slip out of place and cause a bulge. This affects the nerves around it and is termed a herniated disc.
Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
If you feel constant pain in your back and neck and sharp pains occasionally, the following symptoms may indicate degenerative disc disease
- Pain in your lower body, from your back to your upper thighs.
- Pain worsens when you try to bend, twist or lift heavy things.
- You don’t feel pain when moving or walking but worse when sitting.
- The pain gets better with laying down or changing positions.
- The pain is not constant but happens severely for a few days or months.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease
Your doctor will ask you for your medical history and symptoms. These questions will inquire when your pain started, where it is located, and if you have spine injuries or a family history of spinal problems. You will need an MRI or x-ray to check the extent of nerve damage in your spine.
The treatment plan will seek to alleviate your pain and prevent further damage. For this, you may be prescribed pain relievers. They will help with the pain and reduce inflammation to ease your nerves. If these do not bring relief, you may need to get steroid shots around your nerves or muscles.
In most cases, physical therapy may be used alongside medication to help your muscle’s flexibility and strength. For extreme cases, a surgical process called a discectomy is required to remove the injured part of the disc. This helps to ease the pressure off your nerves.
If you are experiencing symptoms of lumbar degenerative disc disease, you will need to see a pain and spine specialist.
Our services at Lakeshore Pain and Spine Center have helped many people like you overcome chronic pain. Schedule an appointment today to start a treatment plan.