Intervertebral discs provide cushion throughout our spine; however, forces from wear and tear or trauma lead to their degeneration over time.
What is Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)?
Intervertebral discs lie in between the vertebral bodies linking the spinal column together. Discs are well hydrated and primarily formed of water, proteins, collagen, and substances enabling them to provide structure, cushion, strength, and support. As we age, the discs begin to lose blood supply and nutrition. They further begin to lose valuable molecules such as proteoglycans leading to a degenerative cascade resulting in poor nutritional support, loss of pressure, loss of hydration, and progressive collagen thickening. This ultimately leads to increased susceptibility of degeneration and tearing which causes neck or back pain.
Do I have risk factors for disc pain?
The largest single risk factor for the development of degenerative disc disease is inheritance and genetics. The second major risk factor is trauma. Ultimately, degenerative disc disease and discogenic pain are related to both genetic and environmental factors.
What can I do about my disc pain?
Many individuals who suffer from discogenic pain have alternative options to major surgical intervention including conservatie care, physical therapy, and epidural steroid injections. Some individuals may be a potential candidate for regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy for these conditions as well. First and foremost, a patient must be adequately evaluated prior to any treatment recommendations. Some patients will ultimately still have to proceed to surgery after exhausting other options.
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