DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE DOCTORS
Degenerative Disc Disease - or DDD - is not a disease in the normal sense. For the most part, Degenerative Disc Disease is a part of the normal aging process. However, it may also result from any injury to the back or neck with the progression also coming on over time. Intervertebral discs are rubber-like cushions between the vertebrae (bones of the spine) that act as shock absorbers. The primary function of these discs is to cushion and provide mobility between vertebrae during complex motions like bending, flexing, and twisting.
Over time, intervertebral discs begin to dry and shrink, losing their flexibility, elasticity, and shock-absorbing capabilities. As discs are composed primarily of collagen, they heal slower than other parts of the body due to poorer blood supply. The soft center of the disc begins to thin and shrink. Additionally, the ligaments surrounding the disc space, known as the annulus fibrosus, become brittle - lending themselves to be more easily torn.
Where does Degenerative Disc Disease occur and what are the symptoms?
Though this degeneration may occur anywhere along the spine, it is most commonly found in the lower back - the lumbar spine - and the neck - the cervical spine. Studies show that 40% of people aged 40 years old have some occurrence of Degenerative Disc Disease. This increases to 80% among those aged 80 years or older. Research has also shown that about one-third of people 40-59 years old have evidence of moderate to severe DDD. Certain people have a higher chance of developing Degenerative Disc Disease. These include those who have spine injury, those who are obese, an those in careers such as professional drivers and gymnasts.
Symptoms manifest in neck or back pain that is made worse by bending, lifting or twisting or by sitting. Other manifestations include weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, stiffness or foot drop. The pain may radiate into arms and hands - for instance an affected disc in the cervical area may result in the neck and arms, while a disc in the lumbar spine may cause pain in the back, legs or buttocks area. The pain can be mild, moderate or severe - starting and stopping.
Diagnosis of Degenerative Disc Disease is made through a patient history and a physical exam. Tests such as X-rays, MRI, CT scan, and discography can also reveal degeneration of the spinal discs.
Though the condition is not reversible, treatment of DDD can provide both pain relief and a return to everyday activity.
Physical therapy focusing on the spine is normally the first course of action. This is often followed by or in conjunction with Anti-inflammatory medications.
South Florida’s Best Spine Doctors offer comprehensive service for evaluating and treating Degenerative Disc Disease with a range of options. Spine and Wellness Centers of America believe in Preventative, Holistic, Functional and medicine. A steroidal injection can be helpful in treating DDD along with Regenerative treatment options such as stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
To achieve decompression of the area, removal of a displaced disc can free pinched nerves can also be performed. Fusion is another option whereby a bone bridge is built to provide stability and relieve painful motion. Procedures involving the placement of implants like spacers and nerve stimulators are also available through SWCA’s specialized and expert team. The team at SWCA offers the single most comprehensive one-stop shop of options to treat Degenerative Disc Disease. There is a treatment plan for everyone - specially curated to both condition, need and desired outcome.
Degenerative Disc Disease may affect a patients’ quality of life. Trial-and-error is sometimes needed to discover what manner of treatment works best for each individual condition. However, working with SWCA, patients are able to take charge of their spinal health in order to more quickly achieve pain-free optimum wellness and a return to normalcy.