As we grow older, several changes occur throughout our bodies, including in the neck, back and spine. The discs in the spine are natural shock absorbers between the bony vertebrae. Discs have two main components: a tough outer layer and a gel-like center. When pressure occurs along the spinal column, the inner core of the disc squeezes outward against the wall of the disc.
The elastic recoil of the containment wall pushes the nucleus back into position, reestablishing the height and shape of the disc. As a person ages, natural daily activity causes repeated loading of the disc. Small tears may develop in the fibers of the outer wall and water or protein content may become lost, causing the disc to shrink and lose some of its outer wall elasticity.
As a result, this ongoing deterioration causes degenerative disc disease. If the degenerative disc compresses a nerve root or spinal cord, individuals suffering from this condition may begin to develop radiating pain, numbness, tingling and weakness. To learn about the treatment options for this degenerative condition, read the following article.
Conservative degenerative disc disease treatment options
Except in the case of trauma, which reveals longstanding degeneration, degenerative changes usually occur gradually. They may cause localized discomfort in areas of mild inflammation, but this pain rarely requires a health professional’s intervention. However, if a bulging or herniated disc compresses a nearby nerve, symptoms may continue to progress and become more severe.
If you experience more severe degenerative disc disease symptoms, it is important that you consult a doctor. Following a medical professional’s proper diagnosis, a conservative treatment regimen may be prescribed. A conservative treatment plan may include any of the following:
- Hot and cold compresses. Alternating between compresses of heat and cold can activate the healing process. Heat increases circulation and cold reduces inflammation.
- Exercise. Gentle low-impact exercise helps patients maintain a healthy body weight and strengthen bones and muscles without putting too much pressure on the joints. Consult your doctor about exercises like swimming, walking or biking.
- Medication. Pain medication can be found over the counter or obtained with a doctor’s prescription. Medication for neck and back pain comes in a variety of forms, from oral medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to lidocaine patches and injections of corticosteroids.
- Alternative treatments. While not always accepted in the medical community, alternative treatments like chiropractic care, acupuncture and massage therapy have helped some patients achieve temporary relief from pain.
Degenerative disc disease surgical options
Conservative and alternative treatments will help most degenerative disc disease patients achieve pain relief. However, some require more aggressive treatments, such as surgery. To find out more about the benefits of outpatient minimally invasive procedures for neck or back pain, contact USA Spine Care. We can also provide a free MRI review* to determine if our procedures would be effective for you.
At USA Spine Care, our procedures are safer and effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery.^ Our highly skilled surgeons are able to remove relieve the symptoms associated with degenerative disc disease through a minimally invasive decompression or stabilization procedure. To find out if you are a potential candidatefor our outpatient surgery, reach out to our dedicated team.
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