Degenerative disc disease is a common cause of low back pain and leg pain. This degenerative condition is commonly associated with a herniated disc. The term refers to changes in the intervertebral discs that cushion the bones of the spine. As we age, chemical changes occur and wear & tear from lifting and other activities can put pressure on the discs.
Understanding the Back:
The anatomy of the spine is composed of 31 vertebrae, which are separate bones. The spinal cord lies within a specific canal formed by the vertebrae. There are discs in between each vertebrae. They are composed a thicker and tougher exterior with a gel-like interior.
Furthermore, these discs function as cushions and protection for the vertebrae as they move. They also stabilize the spine through a range of movements.
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
As we age, degenerative changes inevitably occur in the vertebrae and these changes result in the spectrum of disorders that comprise degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative disc disease refers to the symptoms that include pain, weakness or numbness. These symptoms occur as a result of degeneration of one or more of the discs that cushion the spine.
Since disc degeneration is a common and natural part of the aging process, many people will develop degenerative changes in their discs. Not all of these people experience pain as a result. Furthermore, not everyone will need treatment for their condition.
The Results of Degeneration:
Degenerative conditions that occur in the disc result in inflammation, which causes pain. At the same time, the spine may become less stable to resistance of motion. Inflammation and instability result in reflex muscle spasms and this is frequently the cause of the intense pain.
In each spinal vertebral joint, there is an end plate of cartilage that provides nutrition to the disc. When this becomes eroded, the disc will degenerate. As the disc degenerates, the space between the vertebrae will collapse.
Damage to the disc may refer to dehydration of the disc, tears in the outer rim, or annulus fibrosis, and bulging of the disc from the space between the vertebral bodies.
At Metropolitan Pain Consultants we offer two forms of treatment for patients with degenerative disc disease related pain. The first, spinal cord stimulation, is for patients with chronic pain. The second is regenerative medicine and treats the patient with their own blood.
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) and BurstDR stimulation, in particular, offers a minimally invasive option for chronic pain sufferers. Both forms of therapy use a small device placed inside of the patient which alters the pain signals sent from the spinal cord to the brain.
Whereas signals would usually trigger the brain to produce painful stimulations, SCS and Burst DR tricks the brain. Pulses modify the way our brain perceives pain signals – leading to potential physical pain relief as well as relief from no longer suffering
Regenerative medicine, meanwhile, is quite unique in the approach to healing a patient. Both platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and bone marrow concentrate (BMC) are outpatient surgical alternatives used to heal an injury and reduce pain.
PRP uses the blood platelets found naturally within the patient and BMC uses the patient’s stem cells. Since both options uses the patients own body to heal itself, there are very few side effects. Similarly, where as other injections mask pain, regenerative medicine heals the injury so the patient is no longer in pain.
If you are suffering from back pain, you should contact us to set up a consultation with one of our pain specialists. We will help you diagnose the cause of your pain and get you on the road to being pain free. We offer weekday and weekend appointments. You can find us at our conveniently located clinics in West Orange, Aberdeen, and Lyndhurst.