Degenerative disc disease can lead to chronic backache, pain, and other distressing symptoms caused by nerve compression. Jinghui Xie, MD, at Caring Pain Management in North and Central New Jersey and New York City, is an expert in relieving pain and improving function for patients affected by conditions like degenerative disc disease. Dr. Xie tames your back pain by using the most advanced treatments, including nerve blocks and minimally invasive therapies like radiofrequency ablation and nerve stimulation.
Degenerative disc disease is a spinal condition caused by the gradual deterioration of your intervertebral discs. These discs are round, flexible pads that sit between each of the vertebrae that make up your spinal column.
The discs have a jelly-like interior and a tough, protective layer on the outside. Intervertebral discs absorb the shock that travels up your spine when you’re physically active. They shield the vertebrae from damage and help to stabilize your spine.
The discs in young people are especially springy and absorbent because the discs have a higher water content. However, as you age, these discs begin to dry out, and renewal of their cells slows down. The result is the flatter, harder discs typical of degenerative disc disease.
In addition to age, other factors can increase your risk of developing degenerative disc disease. These include:
● Trauma● Injury● Repetitive movement● Improper posture● Poor body mechanics
Degenerative disc disease can lead to conditions like spinal stenosis, herniated discs, and the development of bone spurs (osteophytes).
Bone spurs are your body’s response to the deterioration of the vertebrae, an attempt to reinforce weakened areas of your spine. Unfortunately, they often do more harm than good.
Degenerative disc disease might not always cause symptoms, but among the possible symptoms are:
● Back pain● Neck pain● Radiating leg pain● Radiating arm pain
These symptoms are due to nerve compression or radiculopathy. For example, a disc that weakens and herniates has a protruding inner core that can press on the nerves in or near your spinal cord. A herniated disc in your lower back might cause sciatica; one in your neck could result in cervical radiculopathy.
Degenerative disc disease also reduces flexibility in your spine, leaving it stiffer and more vulnerable to frequent backaches. Degenerative disc disease generally takes many years to develop, so it’s typically a problem for people over 50.
At Caring Pain Management, Dr. Xie begins treatment for degenerative disc disease with conservative choices such as:
● Rest ● Activity modification● Physical therapies● Pain-killing medication● Anti-inflammatories● Behavioral pain therapies
For many patients, these treatments are highly effective in resolving pain and improving function. However, if you find that your condition isn’t getting better, Dr. Xie specializes in using injectable treatments and other minimally invasive procedures to relieve degenerative disc disease symptoms. You might benefit from:
● Pulse stimulation treatment™ (PSTIM)● Epidural steroid injections● Selective nerve root block● Facet joint injection● Facet joint medial branch block● Radiofrequency ablation● Percutaneous laser disc decompression (PLDD)
In some cases, surgery such as minimally invasive lumbar decompression (mild®) might be necessary for degenerative disc disease.