Degenerative Disc Disease


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Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of low back pain and is also one of the most misunderstood. Disc degeneration is a natural part of aging. Over time, all people will exhibit changes in their discs, some more than others, and some may never even develop symptoms. The onset of symptoms typically starts with an injury, a rotation to put something on a shelf or the swinging of a golf club. However, the pain can also be caused by the simple wear and tear of the spine. Pain from this condition can vary, but it is generally:

Centered on the low back, and can possibly radiate into the hips and legs
Can worsen with sitting
Exacerbated by certain movements, such as bending, twisting, or lifting

Treatment Options

Following the review of a patient's history and physical information, a formal diagnosis can be confirmed with an MRI. For most people, degenerative disc disease can be treated with conservative treatment options. These can range from medication to control the inflammation, applying heat or ice packs, chiropractic manipulation, to physical therapy and exercise. Many times, epidural steroid injections can aid in delivering medication directly to the painful area to decrease inflammation. Surgery is typically only considered an option for patients who have not received relief over six months of conservative care and/or are significantly constrained from performing activities of daily living. Talk to your healthcare provider about the different treatment options available to you to treat degenerative disc disease.