If the protective discs in your spine start to deteriorate due to age or injury, you might have degenerative disc disease. At Advanced Spine and Pain Center, with offices throughout Fairfax County, VA, Stafford, VA & the Greater Baltimore, MD Area, the team of specialists offers various minimally invasive pain management services. The doctors also provide surgical options for repairing disc damage in more severe cases. Schedule a consultation online now to restore your spine health.
Degenerative disc disease occurs when the discs between the vertebrae of your spinal column begin to deteriorate progressively. These discs are responsible for protecting your vertebrae from shock and allowing your backbone to flex, bend, and twist. Aging causes your discs to shrink and lose their strength naturally.
As discs deteriorate, their jelly-like center starts to push out of the disc and press on surrounding nerves. This compression is what causes the chronic pain in your back or neck.
In addition to the natural effects of aging, wear and tear on your back from a fall, injury, or repetitive activity is the most common reason your discs deteriorate. If you regularly play sports, your discs may incur unusually high amounts of wear and tear.
You may experience most of the discomfort and pain of degenerative disc disease in your lower back or your neck. Pain ranges from mild discomfort to severe, chronic pain.
Common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:
Degenerative disc disease-related pain may last a few days or continue for months. Your legs or foot may experience increasing weakness that may indicate nerve damage.
Your doctor performs a physical exam and reviews your medical history. During your physical exam, your doctor may ask you to complete specific movements to gauge your pain level and range of motion. They may request an MRI to identify damage to your discs or spot other medical conditions.
Your doctor may initially recommend medications and physical therapy to alleviate pressure on your nerves and manage pain. They may also suggest a wearable lumbar brace to provide additional support to your spine and lower back or minimally invasive procedures including:
Your doctor monitors your progress through each therapy to ensure your pain and functionality are improving. For more complex degenerative disc disease issues, they may recommend surgery.