Degenerative disk disease refers to the condition where the spinal disks gradually deteriorate. These disks, which serve as flexible cushions between the bones (vertebrae) in the spinal column, function as shock absorbers and enable comfortable movement, bending, and twisting. It is a natural part of the aging process for everyone’s spinal disks to degenerate over time.
As the cushions wear down, the bones may begin to rub against each other, leading to various issues such as:
- Adult scoliosis: a curvature of the spine.
- Herniated disk (also known as bulged, slipped, or ruptured disk): occurs when a disk protrudes or ruptures.
- Spinal stenosis: a narrowing of the spaces around the spine.
- Spondylolisthesis: a condition where the vertebrae shift in and out of their normal positions.
Degenerative disk disease primarily affects older adults and several factors can raise the risk of developing this condition. These factors include:
- Sudden injuries like falls.
- Biological sex, with women having a higher likelihood of experiencing symptoms.
- Engaging in physically demanding occupations.
Degenerative disk disease typically presents with neck pain and back pain as the most prevalent symptoms. The pain you may encounter can be characterized by the following:
- Intermittent occurrence, lasting for extended periods of weeks or months.
- Accompanied by numbness or tingling sensations in your arms or legs.
- Radiating down from your lower back and buttocks.
- Aggravated by sitting, bending, or lifting.
What does it feel like?
Pain caused by degenerative disk disease:
- Can occur either in the neck or lower back.
- May radiate into the arms, hands, buttocks, and legs.
- Can vary in intensity, ranging from mild to moderate or severe.
- May have periods of onset and remission.
- Can worsen following specific activities such as bending, twisting, or lifting.
- May progressively worsen over time.
Typically, noninvasive treatment options are usually recommended as the initial approach by your healthcare provider. The recommended treatment may involve:
- Physical therapy: Engaging in exercises focused on strengthening and stretching under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional.
- Medications: Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, or steroids.
- Steroid injections: Administering medicine near the spinal nerves, disks, or joints to alleviate inflammation and pain.
- Radiofrequency neurotomy: Utilizing electric currents to selectively target and disable sensory nerves, preventing pain signals from reaching the brain.
We offer treatment options for DDD at APDSS! Please contact us for more information!