As we age, we face a host of challenging issues. Health problems may crop up, poor lifestyle choices can catch up with us, while exercise and healthy eating often fall by the wayside of our busy lives. For example, by the age of 40, nearly everyone has experienced some type of back pain. In many cases, this is caused by degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative disc disease progressively worsens over time, as the spinal discs, which act as cushions between the bones of the spine (vertebrae) become damaged due to wear and tear. The gel-like fluid within the discs may dry up or leak, leading to bone-on-bone friction in the spine, and the irritation of nearby nerves.
Spinal vertebrae may lose density and become brittle due to arthritis or osteoporosis. Bone spurs may develop and impinge upon nearby tissue. Vertebrae may become misaligned due to degeneration or weakness, leading to instability of the spinal column. All of these problems, as well as trauma and exertion, can worsen pain in the back, neck, arms, and legs caused by degenerative disc disease.
Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease
There are many types of treatment for damaged spinal discs.
On the conservative side, physical therapy and occupational therapy is a good place to start.
Pain relief has also been achieved also with alternative therapies such as acupuncture, biofeedback, and herbal supplements. Sometimes chiropractic services can provide relief with manual spinal manipulation (as long as your doctor indicates it is safe for your condition – i.e., as long as your spinal vertebrae are stable).
Medications such as corticosteroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, muscle relaxants, even anti-depressants may help alleviate the pain caused by degenerative disc disease. Nerve blocks and facet point injections may also help.
Surgery can also alleviate back and neck pain due to this condition. Popular surgical solutions include repairing or replacing the damaged disc, and spinal fusion. Newer, minimally invasive methods can offer pain relief without the trauma and extended recovery time of a traditional, “open” spinal surgery.
If you’re experiencing back or neck pain, you’ll want to see a medical professional who specializes in disorders of the spine. The neurologists at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery are highly qualified, trained, and experienced in treating disorders of the spine, like degenerative disc disease, and associated nerve issues. There is no better type of doctor to diagnose and treat the cause of your back pain.
Make sure you’re receiving the best possible care for your back pain at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery. Call (303) 790-1800 or use the convenient appointment request form.