Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease, but a medical condition that is related to age and is also loosely referred to as a “disease of aging.”

In fact, the term “degenerative disc disease” is confusing in its own way as this medical condition and its symptoms does not degenerate or get worse as it implies. The term degenerative does not imply or have any relation to the symptoms of this medical condition, in fact it shows the degeneration of the disc over time. The reason behind the progression of this disease is the daily stress as well as the occasional minor/major injuries that are spine suffers and with progressing age these injuries and stress starts taking their toll on the discs.

Usually disc degeneration is natural occurrence of age and that is why this type of gradual degeneration is not a problem with many people. However, in some cases this becomes severe and can cause the patient chronic, severe as well as debilitating discogenic pain. Doctors who specialize in this type of cases refer to the back pain that is caused by the damaged discs as “discogenic pain.”

Signs and Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

A majority of cases of degenerative disc disease do not feel or experience any related symptoms, however when the case becomes severe some people may suffer from symptoms that are so intense that they are unable to carry on with their daily life. These symptoms include:

  • Back Pain
  • Radiating Pain in the buttocks and upper thighs (sciatica)
  • Tingling sensation as well as numbness in the foot and leg
  • Muscle Weakness

Degenerative Disc Disease Diagnosis

The process of diagnosis usually starts with thorough physical examination and then various diagnostic imaging tests like X-ray, MRI scan and CT scan. Doctors usually ask about the patient’s medical history as well as any injuries, fall or accidents that he may have suffered in the past.

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment

Usually conservative treatment options are more viable for this condition. Many non-surgical treatments include physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, medications, epidural injections and massage therapy.

Surgery for degenerative disc disease is only considered when conservative treatment options fail to work. These surgical options include:

  • Facetectomy
  • Foraminotomy
  • Intervertebral disc annuloplasty (IDET).
  • Intervertebral disc arthroplasty
  • Laminoplasty
  • Laminotomy
  • Microdiscectomy
  • Percutaneous disc decompression.
  • Percutaneous Laser Disc-Decompression (PLDD)
  • Spinal decompression
  • Spinal laminectomy