What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is a term used to encapsulate several different conditions related to the degeneration of the discs in the spine. Every person experiences some level of deterioration in their spine as they grow older and their neck and back are subjected to extensive daily use. The spinal discs, designed to provide flexibility and cushion the vertebrae, absorb much of this wear and tear and can begin to break down. This can result in different forms of degenerative disc disease such as a bulging disc, a ruptured disc, or a collapsed disc.
Four Symptoms That May Point to Degenerative Disc Disease
When a spinal disc degenerates, it loses its natural shape and can cause pressure on the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root. This can lead to symptoms that include:
- Localized pain at the site of the disc degeneration
- Pain that radiates down a nerve pathway to the arms, hands, hips, buttocks, legs, or feet
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Muscle weakness in the arms or legs
The amount of pain that degenerative disc disease causes depends on the severity of the degeneration and the location in the spine that is being affected. This condition is most common in the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back) because these areas require more daily movement.
Degenerative Disc Disease Risk Factors
While the natural aging process is the most common cause of this condition, several lifestyle factors can contribute to its development. A sedentary lifestyle can cause the muscles that support the spine to weaken, increasing the stress the spine has to endure. Additionally, carrying extra weight can also speed the development of this spine condition, as can tobacco use, poor posture, participation in high-impact sports, and a job that requires extensive heavy lifting.
Minimally Invasive Treatment with BEST Health System
Many patients can manage their degenerative disc disease symptoms by following a treatment plan that includes a combination of conservative options, including stretching exercises, pain medications, physical therapy, and more. For patients who have attempted conservative treatments for several months and are still experiencing symptoms that are limiting their daily lives, minimally invasive surgery may be an option. Contact BEST to learn more about our services.