Degenerative disk means a spongy disc in your spine is gradually deteriorating. The deterioration of disk degeneration indicates that a disc is flattening and becoming less elastic.
This health condition is sometimes referred to as degenerative disk disease or intervertebral disk disease. And the general degeneration of your spine is referred to as spondylosis.
Degenerative disk disease can affect any part of your spine. Cervical disc disease is a disc degenerating in your neck, thoracic disk disease is the mid-back site of degeneration and lumbago means your lumbar spine area is degenerating.
The primary cause of a degenerative disk is normal aging. As you age, your discs become dehydrated, which causes them to be less flexible and reduces the space between vertebrae. Also, a dried out disk is more vulnerable to cracks and tears.
Additional causes for your disk degeneration to be initiated earlier include:
- poor posture
- sudden injury
- routine heavy lifting
- sustained use while spine is out of alignment
And your degenerative disk can cause symptoms for no apparent reason, which start gradually and worsen over time.
Degenerative disc symptoms can cause quality of life issues because of chronic pain. Yet for most, symptoms are negligible and not a problem. The range of symptoms you could experience with degenerative disk disease include:
- neck pain
- low back pain
- muscle spasms
- muscle weakness
- sporadic numbness, tingling
- radiating pain to arms, legs, hips, buttocks, thighs
Degenerative disc symptoms may tend flare up whenever you walk, sit, bend, lift, reach up and twist. Whereas for some, walking and running can relieve their pain.
Other back related health conditions can mimic degenerative disk symptoms, such as sciatica, herniated disc, spinal cord compression, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, osteoarthritis or back injury caused inflammation.
The pain from degenerative disk disease usually starts with conservative treatment, like:
- heat or ice
- muscle relaxants
- osteopathic manipulation
- pain relievers ~ acetaminophen
- chiropractic manipulation therapy
- physical therapy exercises ~ back strengthening, stretching
- anti inflammatory, NSAIDs ~ aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium
If your pain symptoms caused by degenerative disc disease is severe, then these treatments won’t likely be effective. Therefore surgery may be recommended.
Surgical treatment for a degenerative disk disease usually involves removing the damaged disc. In addition, the surrounding bones may be fused together or an artificial disc inserted as a replacement.