degenerative disc disease

Degenerative Disc Disease

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease occurs when the discs that cushion the vertebrae in the spinal column weaken or break down. This can lead to pain, weakness or numbness and can contribute to other more serious back problems.

Though disease is in the name, the condition is not contagious. There is evidence that it may be hereditary, though, meaning if your parents or grandparents had it, you may develop it as well.

What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease?

In most cases, Degenerative Disc Disease is caused by the natural process of aging, but it can also be caused by injury.

The vertebrae are cushioned by rubbery, flexible discs. Like most things, they get worn over time and no longer protect as well as they once did. Think of it like the shock absorbers on a car, which provide a smooth ride at first, but over time can wear out and create other problems. In the same way, the wearing of the discs in your spine can lead to other painful conditions.

The collapse of vertebral discs can put pressure on the facet joints at the back of the spine, leading to facet joint syndrome. Bone spurs can form on these joints, putting pressure on the spinal cord, a condition known as spinal stenosis.

What are the Symptoms of this Condition?

Degenerative disc disease does not always cause pain. Some people can have the condition with no obvious signs.

For others, it will be accompanied by pain, numbness or tingling in the legs. The pain may occur in flare-ups, and may become worse with bending, twisting or sitting. Lying down may help provide relief."

What Treatments are Available?

Pontchartrain Orthopedic and Sports Medicine offers several treatment options for degenerative disc disease, including:

Physical Therapy

Treatments may include manual therapy or therapeutic exercises. Manual therapy consists of kneading or manipulating muscles and joints to help relieve pain. Therapeutic exercises can also be used to help strengthen core muscles and range of motion.

Epidural Injections

An epidural injection is when a steroid is injected into the nerves of the spine to help ease the pain as part of a full treatment plan.

Medication Management

Anti-inflammatory or pain relieving drugs may be prescribed to ease the pain and inflammation associated with degenerative disc disease.

Why Seek an Evaluation for Your Back Pain?

If you have chronic or worsening back pain, you should be evaluated. A number of conditions may cause back pain, some of them very serious. Our physicians can provide an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan to help you get relief. Contact us today to find out what treatment options are right for you. We can serve you in our conveniently located Boutte, LA clinic and our Metairie, LA clinic.