As we navigate the rhythm of our daily lives, our spines bear the weight of our movements, responsibilities, and postures. This intricate structure, vital to our existence, sometimes falls prey to age and wear. One such condition that affects our backbone is degenerative disc disease. Despite its alarming name, it’s a relatively common ailment with various treatment options. This article will unravel what this disease entails, its origins, and potential interventions.
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) isn’t technically a “disease” in the conventional sense. As we age, our spinal discs—gel-like cushions between our vertebrae that act as shock absorbers—begin to wear down, losing their flexibility, elasticity, and hydration. This wear on your back can lead to discomfort, pain, and reduced function.
What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease?
The name might imply a sudden onset of symptoms, but DDD usually develops gradually over time. The primary culprits include:
Natural Aging: Our discs naturally lose fluid as we age, reducing their ability to act as cushions. This can lead to tiny tears or cracks in the disc’s outer layer.
Daily Activities and Sports: Simple activities like bending, twisting, and lifting can place a great deal of pressure on the spine, contributing to wear and tear. Along with your daily activities, sports can impact back pain. Depending on the sport, it could be worse than others, so you must listen to your body when it needs rest.
Trauma or Injury: Accidents or injuries can cause inflammation and instability, leading to disc degeneration.
Genetics: Some people may inherit a predisposition to developing DDD.
Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
Symptoms can vary widely but may include:
Pain: Often felt in the lower back, buttocks, or upper thighs. It can be very painfull and constant when not taken care of properly. It can be mild pain and will eventually be severe.
Increased Pain During Activity: Sitting, bending, lifting, and twisting might exacerbate the pain.
Periods of Relief: Symptoms might alleviate during certain activities like walking or lying down.
Pain that Radiates: Some individuals might experience pain radiating down their legs or arms.
Muscle Tension or Spasms: This can respond to pain or inflammation.
Fortunately, most people can manage their symptoms without surgery. Here are several treatment options:
Physical Therapy: Engaging in specific exercises can offer relief by strengthening the core muscles supporting the spine.
Medication: Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers can help manage pain and inflammation.
Lifestyle Changes: Maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, and staying active can make a significant difference.
Chiropractic Care: Some find relief through spinal adjustments.
Epidural Injections: Steroid injections can offer temporary relief by reducing inflammation around the affected disc.
Surgery: In severe cases where other treatments have failed, surgery might be recommended. Common procedures include lumbar fusion or disc replacement.
Regenerative Cell Therapy: Discgenics is leading the research on this therapy. It heals the discs in your back through an injection called IDCT. It will build back the support in your back. CEO Flagg Flanagan and COO Bob Wynalek are leading this regenerative cell therapy for DiscGenics.
While the prospect of degenerative disc disease may seem daunting, it’s essential to remember that it’s a common part of aging. The right knowledge and tools can manage and alleviate the symptoms. Always consult with healthcare professionals to ensure you receive appropriate care for your unique situation. Remember, every spine has its story, and with care and attention, it can continue supporting you through life’s adventures. We only have one back in life, so let’s take care of it.