Disc degeneration (DDD) is a common health condition among older people. Many people experience spinal degeneration after the age of 40. Proper treatment can reduce pain and improve mobility.
Read this blog to learn more about spinal disc degeneration (DDD), its causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention.
What is DDD?
DDD is a health condition that occurs when one or more of the back discs loses strength. Despite the name, DDD is technically not a disease. It is a progressive condition caused by wear and tear.
Intervertebral discs are located between vertebrae. They act as shock absorbers and cushions. Intervertebral discs also help people move, bend, and twist comfortably. This condition can gradually worsen over time. Degenerative disc disease typically consists of low-level chronic pain with intermittent episodes of more severe pain.
What are the symptoms of DDD?
Symptoms of DDD include:
- Pain that increases with bending, twisting, or lifting heavy objects
- The neck and back are unable to provide essential support and experience an increased “give up” sensation that makes everyday movements difficult. It is due to the stability of the spine.
- Muscle spam is one of the common effects of DDD. However, in some cases, the condition may not cause any symptoms, but the muscle spasms can be excruciatingly painful and incapacitating.
- Individuals may experience sharp, stabbing, and radiating pain in several parts of the body. Cervical disc degeneration causes pain in the shoulders, arms, and hands. This is called cervical radiculopathy. However, lumbar disc degeneration causes pain in the lower back, buttocks, and soles of the feet. It is called lumbar radiculopathy.
- The pain is exacerbated by daily activities such as sitting or standing for long periods of time, looking at a mobile phone, or reading a book.
- Minimize pain when changing postures when sitting or standing for long periods of time. Also, regular neck stretching exercises may reduce cervical disc pain, and short, frequent walks during the day may minimize lumbar disc pain.
- Pain relief in certain positions, such as sitting in a reclining position, lying with a pillow under your knees, or lying under your neck to maintain the neck’s natural curvature while you sleep. The severity of pain can range from no pain to severe, excruciating pain for some people.
What Causes DDD?
Wear and tear of the intervertebral discs usually cause this condition. In general, discs tend to dry out with age and lose support and function. It can cause pain and other symptoms. DDD begins to develop in his 30s or 40s and then gets progressively worse.
Injuries and tears from sports and repetitive activities can cause DDD. If the disc is damaged, the disc itself cannot be repaired.
What are the risk factors for DDD?
Age is the most important risk factor for DDD. However, other factors may accelerate the process of degeneration. They include:
- hard physical labor
- cigarette smoking
- Acute or sudden injury, such as a fall
What are the complications of DDD?
An advanced form of DDD is Osteoarthritis (OA) behind. In this form of her OA, there are no remaining discs to cushion the discs, so the vertebrae rub against each other, resulting in back pain And stiffness severely limits the activities people can comfortably do.
Exercise is essential for overall health, especially for patients suffering from back pain-related problems and DDD. Decreased mobility or immobility can increase the risk of:
- pain that gets worse
- decreased muscle tone
- decreased back flexibility
- blood clot in leg
When to Seek Medical Assistance?
If treatment options fail or the pain gets worse, see your doctor right away.
How is DDD handled?
Treatment for this condition may include:
1. Hyperthermia or cold therapy
Cold packs help minimize pain associated with damaged discs, while heat packs can reduce pain-causing inflammation.
2. Over-the-counter drugs
Acetaminophen can help relieve pain from DDD. Ibuprofen can reduce pain and inflammation. Both of these drugs can cause side effects. Therefore, patients should consult their doctor about which medicine is right for them.
3. Prescription pain relievers
Patients with DDD may consider prescription pain relievers if over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers do not relieve pain. These options carry the risk of dependence and should be used only when the pain is severe and should be carefully considered.
The therapist guides patients through routines that help strengthen back muscles and relieve pain. Over time, people may notice improvements in pain, posture, and overall mobility.
Your doctor may suggest artificial disc replacement or spinal fusion, depending on the severity of the condition. Patients may require surgery if pain worsens. Artificial disc replacement replaces the disc with a new one made of plastic and metal. Doctors use spinal fusion to permanently connect two or more of her vertebrae in the spine, ending the friction between them. Surgeons can perform discectomy, foramectomy, laminectomy etc
How can exercise help prevent DDD?
Exercise can complement other treatments for this condition by strengthening the muscles around the damaged disc. Gentle yoga and stretching throughout her day improves posture and reduces tension. To minimize work-related back and neck pain, you can do these stretches at your desk.
How can I prevent DDD?
The following lifestyle changes can prevent or reduce the progression of spinal degeneration:
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
- no smoking or no smoking
- Exercise regularly to improve strength and flexibility
DDD can progress and cause more symptoms with or without treatment. A doctor may consider surgery for her DDD, but other less invasive treatments and treatments may help and may be less expensive. Although discs do not heal on their own, various treatments can help people stay active and pain-free.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does DDD increase the risk of other conditions?
A degenerated disc can increase the risk of developing other spinal diseases. Common spine problems include:
How common is disc degeneration?
Almost everyone experiences some form of disc degeneration after the age of 40, even if they don’t have symptoms. This condition can cause back pain in about 5% of adults.
How is DDD diagnosed? After taking a detailed medical history, the doctor may order an X-ray, CT, or MRI Examine disk condition and alignment. Your doctor may also perform a physical exam to check nerve function, pain levels, and muscle strength.
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