The body goes through a number of gradual changes as a result of age. Lumbar degenerative disc disease, despite the name, is not actually a disease but a condition that is typically set on by age. It is the gradual wear of spinal discs due to loss of disc hydration, elasticity, and height. Spinal discs act as a natural shock absorber for the spine. They are the soft compressible discs that separate the vertebrae (interlocking bones) which form the spine. The presence of these shock absorbers allows you to bend, twist, and flex in a number of ways. Degenerative disc disease may affect the spine in a number of ways and the symptoms may also vary. Physicians participating in the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of spinal conditions including degenerative disc disease.
How Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease affects the Spine
The symptoms are influenced by the location of the disc degeneration in the spine. The composition of intervertebral discs at birth is approximately 80 percent water located in the nucleus pulposus, as well as proteins and collagen. The water decreases with age and the protein and collagen undergo chemical changes making the disc more stiff and susceptible to tearing. They can also flatten over time resulting in degenerative disc symptoms, as the space between the vertebrae is reduced and the ability to adjust to compression sets in.
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Common Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
The most notable symptom of degenerative disc disease is pain. Despite not being an actual disease, the pain that results from degenerative disc disease is all too real. The pain tends to get worse when you engage in certain activities, stand, and sit. Relief from the pain can usually be obtained mostly by laying down and eliminating the pressure on the spine. Alternating your position or posture may also work to reduce pain.
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Other symptoms include:
- Neck and lower back pain (persistent and intermittent sudden)
- Functional issues, as a result of a compressed nerve, such as difficulty walking and numbness or tingling in the buttocks and legs
- Muscle atrophy or loss of movement as a result of extended compression.
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
When it comes to the treatment options for DDD, doctors consider a number of factors to decide the best course of action. Some of the factors that will come into play when determining the best treatment for your condition include the nature and severity of the pain as well as any limits it places on your mobility and daily activities. Common treatment options include a surgical decompression and stabilization called spinal fusion, artificial disc replacement or a combination of medications and physical therapy.
If you have been dealing with DDD and are looking for a specialist, Texas Health Spine Orthopedic Center can help. We can help connect you with a participating physician specializing in the treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease, in Plano, Texas, and nearby areas. To learn more, simply call +1 888-608-4762.
NOTE: Physicians who are members of the referral program practice independently and are not employees or agents of Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic.