What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

The spine is a very intricate and complicated part of the human body that plays an integral role in good health and daily function. Between the interlocking bones of the spine called vertebrae, are discs. Discs serve the vertebrae much like the soles of sneakers do, to absorb shock from impact.  When the discs become compromised and are no longer effectively cushioning the vertebrae, pain is often experienced. This condition is called Degenerative Disc Disease, which is not actually a disease at all, merely a term used to describe the effects of natural aging on the discs of the spine.

Degenerative Disc Disease can effect any part of the spine but is most common in the neck and lower back. As we age, the spinal discs naturally lose fluid, and obstruct the interlocking of the vertebrae. This degeneration of the discs results in painful loss in flexibility in the spine, and can produce tears in the disc walls leading to bulging and ruptured discs. Over time, small tears develop in the discs and do not heal completely. When the tears heal, the body produces scar tissue which is not as strong as healthy discs. Eventually, when the center of the discs begin to lose too much fluid they collapse and force the joints between vertebrae to touch, like an unaligned zipper that creates friction. This friction can have its own set of complications such as the development of bone spurs which leads to spinal stenosis.

Patients suffering from degenerative disc disease often complain about sensational strong pain that comes and goes without warning. Sometimes there is pain and numbness in the legs and arms. Motions such as bending, twisting,  and sitting create pain and prove difficult. Those with the condition often find that laying flat is the most comfortable position to rest in to relieve pressure.

Degenerative disc disease is often treated with over-the-counter pain medications, and a physical therapy plan to maintain flexibility. However, if conservative methods prove moot, surgical intervention may be recommended.

 

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment in Hamilton

If you have questions about degenerative disc disease and available treatmentcontact us to schedule an appointment. Our offices are located in Hamilton, NJ, serving the greater Princeton area. We can be reached at 609-890-3400. We look forward to serving you!

 

 

Posted in: Spinal Conditions

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