Degenerative Disc Disease Overview
Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of low back pain, yet can also be one of the most misunderstood and difficult to diagnose. It is the single most common diagnosis related to serious back pain and neck pain, and tends to occur more frequently with age. As a person ages, the discs can become brittle, susceptible to hemiation, and all together less durable. The main causes of degenerative disc disease are age, family history, lifestyle and age. It is most often reported in patients over 35. Lifestyle is particularly important, individuals who frequently lift heavy items may expose their spine to trauma. Repetitive shock can also promote the development of degenerative discs over time. Degenerative disc disease can be a confusing diagnosis for many patients, and mainly due to the terms “Degenerative” and “Disease”, as it is not strictly degenerative or progressive, and it is not really a disease, but rather a condition that produces pain caused by the damaged disc. Additionally, while it is true that degeneration of a person’s discs will likely progress over time, the pain from the disease does not get progressively worse, in most cases. All in all, disc degeneration is a natural part of aging, and over the course of time – all individuals will show signs of changes in discs, whether it be with a greater or lesser degree of degeneration. Degenerative disc disease is quite unpredictable in its severity; therefore many individuals never develop noticeable symptoms. Of those who do develop symptoms of their degeneration, Michigan Spine & Pain can offer a treatment solution.
Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
Degenerative disc disease simply makes a person’s back more prone to injury and pain conditions. This directly contributes to the following common symptoms that patients report.
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Hunched over appearance
- Herniated disc
- Vertebral fractures
- Leg pain, tingling, and numbness
Degenerative Disc Disease Diagnosis and Treatment
The providers at Michigan Spine & Pain use a variety of methods to diagnose a patient with degenerative disc disease, such as medical history, a complete physical exam, x-rays, MRI, CT scan, electrodiagnostics, bone scans , discography and many other methods. Many patients that are diagnosed with degenerative disc disease can manage their pain level with traditional methods. At Michigan Spine & Pain, we use the following treatment methods to develop a treatment plan specific to each patient’s needs and condition:
- Physical Therapy. Working with a physical therapist can help build strength and endurance in order to maintain the flexibility and stability of your spine.
- Acupuncture. An acupuncture program can help a patient manage their pain in many cases. Acupuncture is a health science that can be used successfully to treat pain and dysfunction in the body. Acupuncture’s goal is to restore normalcy to the body’s energy balance can
- Injections. The epidural space is located between the spine and vertebrae. Medication such as corticsosteroid or local anesthetic is injected into this space by way of a needle. It can block the inflammatory chemicals that sensitize nerves and nerve receptors, and thus in many cases – help to reduce pain.
- Chiropractic Care. Chiropractic care is an important part of our treatment plans at Michigan Spine and Pain. Our medical doctors recognize the benefits of chiropractic care, and work with our chiropractor to reduce pain and improve function quickly.
- Massage Therapy – During a massage, a trained, clinical massage practitioner manipulates muscles in the body. This, combined with a full pain management treatment plan, can provide relief. It is a safe procedure that is only performed by one of Michigan Spine & Pains licensed massage therapists.
- Pain Management – Pain Management is an overall approach and philosophy to treating chronic pain conditions. Medications can be an important part of this approach. All of the physicians at Michigan Spine and Pain are Board Certified and have years of experience with acute and chronic pain conditions.
- Pain Psychology – Pain Psychology/Social Work is integral to our treatment plans. Pain is something our patients experience 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This constant battle is depressing and debilitating. Patients and their families may also have lost income or relationships due to injury or illness. At Michigan Spine and Pain we believe it is important to address these issues along with the physical issues.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Electrodes placed the skin near the painful areas deliver tiny electrical impulses that may relieve pain.