Getting older carries some serious side effects. A lifetime of movement takes its toll on joints throughout your body, and this wear-and-tear can cause medical conditions like osteoarthritis, causing joint discomfort, pain, and deterioration.
In your spine, intervertebral discs can start to dry out, becoming thinner and more fragile. Called degenerative disc disease, it’s not a disease in the conventional sense, though its advancement can lead to pain and mobility problems.
As specialists in degenerative disc disease, the team at Pain Medicine Group can diagnose the condition while also helping you develop an effective treatment plan that maximizes flexibility while controlling pain. Your options depend on your overall health and the stage of disc deterioration, though there are many treatment modalities from which to choose.
Disk degeneration basics
After the age of 40, there are signs of disc degeneration in virtually everyone though, for the most part, these don’t create symptoms. In fact, only about 5% of American adults develop back pain due to degenerative disc disease.
Spinal discs have two components: a tough outer ring called the annulus and softer, gel-like center called the nucleus. The nucleus largely consists of water and over time, it can dry and lose volume. With that moisture goes some of the disc’s cushioning ability, and the bones of your spine may become closer together.
The annulus also dries out and becomes more brittle, leading to cracks and splits. There are nerves on the rear side of discs, so you may feel direct pain when the annulus cracks. In other cases, a split in the outer layer allows nucleus tissue to escape, a condition called a herniated disc. This escaping tissue can compress or irritate nerve roots branching off the spinal cord.
Symptoms of degenerative disc disease
Most problems caused by degenerative disc disease originate in the neck or lower back. The intensity of pain ranges widely, from dull aches to sharp and intense electrical jabs. Pain symptoms depend more on the nerves affected than the amount of disc deterioration.
Sometimes, pain symptoms are referred, meaning that you feel the effects somewhere along the length of the nerve’s path, not necessarily at the point where nerve compression or irritation occurs. You may also experience symptoms of tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness away from the point of disc degeneration.
What are my options if I have degenerative disc disease?
Treatment options can be varied, including pain management, physical therapy, injectable treatments, and surgical solutions. You can play an active role with home care therapies including cold and hot compresses, adding gentle activity like walking and swimming, and managing your weight to reduce the load on your spine.
We can add treatments like corticosteroid injections, prescription-strength pain relief, physical therapy, and managing your care in general. We can also help you make the decision if your condition warrants surgery.
Visit the nearest location of Pain Medicine Group to learn more about your options for degenerative disc disease. You can call our Oviedo or Sarasota, Florida office directly, or use the appointment request link on this page for either location. Book your consultation today.
Pain Management near to our Orlando/Oviedo Clinic location:
If you live in Central Florida, Central West Florida, or Central East Florida and are looking for a pain medicine and pain management clinic near you, we may be able to help. We frequently serve patients in Orlando, Seminole, Volusia, Lake, Marion, Sumter, Brevard, and Polk counties!
Pain Management near to our Sarasota Clinic location:
If you live in greater Southwest Florida, we have a pain management and pain medicine office near you to fill your needs. At this location we frequently serve patients in Sarasota, Manatee, De Soto, Charlotte, Hardee, Highlands, Glades, Collier, and Lee counties!