Degenerative disc disease is a common cause of back pain that typically affects people from middle age onward. Harvinder S. Bedi, MD, of Camelback Spine Care in Sun City, Arizona, and Phoenix, Arizona is a board-certified spine surgeon with extensive expertise in helping patients who are struggling with pain caused by degenerative disc disease. If you need help to relieve back pain and restore your mobility, call Camelback Spine Care today to schedule a consultation, or book an appointment online.
Degenerative disc disease is something that happens as a result of wear and tear of the spinal discs that sit between your vertebrae. Spinal discs are flexible pads that act as shock absorbers to prevent damage to the spine. They also help you bend and twist, allowing you to move freely.
As you age, your spinal discs become less flexible, and eventually become thinner and start to break down. This happens to most people to some degree, although it doesn’t always cause pain.
Changes that take place in the spinal discs and led to degenerative disc disease include:
In your youth, your spinal discs are composed chiefly of water, but as the years go by, the quantity of water in the discs reduces. The soft centers of the discs dry out and make the discs flatten, which in turn makes them less effective as shock absorbers.
The tough outer shell of spinal discs can suffer damage after years of use, leading to tiny tears that can be painful if they affect the nerves. In some instances, the outer wall of the disc can rupture, allowing the soft center to squeeze through the opening. Sometimes the disc bulges out of the vertebrae and presses on nearby nerves, a condition called a herniated disc.
Dr. Bedi goes through your symptoms with you and checks your medical history before examining your spine to see if there are any obvious problems. He may also order an X-ray or MRI scan to check the bones and discs in more detail.
Treatment for degenerative disc disease centers on easing the pain and preventing further damage to the discs. Standard over-the-counter medications may be sufficient to help with the pain and reduce inflammation, but if not, Dr. Bedi may recommend a steroid injection.
Building up the back and neck muscles with physical therapy can also help support your spine, and regenerative medicine techniques like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy could also be beneficial.
If these treatments aren’t providing you with relief, Dr. Bedi can discuss surgical options with you. He can carry out a lumbar fusion or anterior lumbar fusion to fuse the vertebrae together, or an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), which involves removing the disc that’s putting pressure on the nerves, and replacing it with an artificial one.
If you have back pain, let Dr. Bedi help. Call Camelback Spine Care today, or book an appointment online.