Individuals who have been diagnosed withdegenerative disc disease have a number oftreatment options at their disposal. Yet, beforeany treatment regimen can begin in earnest, it isextremely important to identify thecause, location, and severity of the problem.With this information in hand, the patient canwork with their doctor, spine specialist, or othermedical professional to develop acomprehensive treatment plan that will havethe best chance of success.
Understanding Degenerative Disc DiseaseTo find the best course of degenerative disc disease treatment, it isnecessary to first understand what exactly the condition entails. Thevertebral bones in the back and neck that make up the spinal columnare cushioned and separated by thick, spongy intervertebral discs thatact as shock absorbers for the spine. It is these discs that allow thevertebrae to articulate against one another comfortably, providing theregular movement that is expected from the back and neck. Each discis made of two main components: a thick outer shell and soft innercore. The outer shell, known as the annulus fibrosus, contains theinner gel-like nuclear material, which is known as the nucleuspulposus.The condition known as degenerative disc disease causes thedeterioration of the annulus fibrosus, which can allow the disc walls toextrude beyond their normal parameters, or rupture, paving the wayfor the nucleus pulposus to seep into the spinal column.
CausesGenerally speaking, degenerativedisc disease develops as a result ofnothing more than the natural agingprocess and is particularly commonin the cervical spine in the neck andthe lumbar spine in the lower back.Over the years, the wear and tearassociated with regular mobility inthe spine takes its toll, causing thecomponents that support the spinalcolumn to gradually deteriorate.Some degree of deterioration is anunavoidable byproduct of the agingprocess, however, when the spinaldegeneration advances to the pointthat symptoms arise, the patient issaid to have degenerative discdisease.
Conservative TreatmentOne of the good things about degenerative disc disease is that in most casesit can be treated with a regimen of conservative, noninvasive techniques.More often than not, the symptoms stemming from this condition are causedby the damage, irritation, or constriction of a nerve root or the spinal cordnear the affected disc. So, treatments are designed to alleviate this irritation.The secret to treatment is to find the right combination of techniques thatwill best serve the patient, as what works for one won’t necessarily work forall. It is also exceedingly important for the patient to maintain the properexpectations for degenerative disc disease treatment. There is no silver-bulletcure for degenerative disc disease. Instead, treatment usually takes severalweeks or months until the patient finds sufficient and long-lasting pain relief.While treatment options vary from patient to patient, some combination ofprescription or over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatorydrugs, epidural injections, physical therapy, light exercise, hot therapy, and/orcold therapy are most often recommended.
Surgical InterventionIn some instances, when all other treatment plans fail to provide theexpected relief, spinal surgery may be recommended as a finaldegenerative disc disease treatment option. In this case, there areseveral different approaches to surgery that may be recommendedranging from the highly invasive to the lightly invasive. Each type ofsurgical procedure has its own utility, limitations, and sacrifices, whichis why it pays to do homework and research the various avenuesavailable. Never consent to a surgical procedure without receiving asecond and third opinion, and make sure that you are completelycomfortable with the proposed operation, your diagnosis, and yourdoctors.To learn more about degenerative disc disease treatment, speak with aphysician today.