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Four common symptoms of degenerative disc disease

Degenerative disc disease is a term that is 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, which are 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 to be put on the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root. This can lead to symptoms that include:

  1. Localized pain at the site of the disc degeneration
  2. Pain that radiates down a nerve pathway to the arms, hands, hips, buttocks, legs or feet
  3. Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  4. Muscle weakness in the arms or legs

The amount of pain that degenerative disc disease causes for a patient can vary greatly depending 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 are subjected to more daily movement.

Degenerative disc disease risk factors

While the natural aging process is the most common cause of degenerative disc disease, there are several lifestyle factors that 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 degenerative disc disease, as can tobacco use, poor posture, participation in high-impact sports, and a job that requires extensive heavy lifting.

Treating degenerative disc disease

Many patients are able to 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, outpatient surgery at USA Spine Care may be an option. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is often the clinically appropriate first choice and provides many advantages versus open neck or back surgery.^ Contact us today to find out if you are a candidate for surgery at USA Spine Care.

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