Have you been experiencing lower back pain, muscle stiffness, or even tingling sensations in the legs? These are all symptoms of lumbar degenerative disc disease (LDDD). This condition usually occurs when one or more of the discs between your vertebrae start to break down and wear out due to several factors. At Right Path Pain & Spine Center in Davenport, FL, we offer conservative treatment options for those suffering from LDDD.
Is Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease a Serious Condition?
Lumbar degenerative disc disease is a serious condition. It often starts with aching in the lower back, which may come and go unpredictably. If not addressed, the pain can get worse over time as the affected discs start to collapse or degenerate. What’s more, it is impossible to stop or reverse disc degeneration process, and ignoring the problem or hoping it will go away on its own is not an option. Fortunately, there are treatments available for discogenic pain.
These treatments might involve physical therapy and medications targeted at reducing inflammation and managing pain in the long term. There are also treatments designed to stabilize the joint between two vertebrae to improve function and reduce pain. All in all, even though degenerative disc disease is a serious condition, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to suffer through it. Identifying a solution through diagnosis followed by appropriate treatment is the key to living better.
What Causes Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease?
Discs are lumbar cushions between your vertebrae. Each disc is composed of a soft core surrounded by a tougher exterior ring. This core contains water that gives the disc flexibility and resilience to resist compression. But when dehydrated, the disc gets thinner and can no longer do its job in supporting the spine, leading to degenerative disc disease.
In addition, the discs can also lose water due to natural aging. The deterioration in discs may be gradual, but it eventually leads to worsening pain, weakened posture, and movement restriction over time.
Crack or Tear
Everyday activities can cause cracks or tears in the spinal discs in your lower back, which can lead to degenerative disc disease. In addition to these fissures, the tough outer wall of these discs can also crack open, leading to what is known as a herniated disc.
Herniated discs occur when the inner, jelly-like layer of one’s vertebral disc protrudes through the much tougher outer wall, pushing the material out and often resulting in increased pressure on adjoining spinal nerves.
Neck pain can be one of the earliest signs of LDDD. This type of pain is often caused by the destabilization of the vertebrae or disk joints of the spine. As the disc begins to break down and shrink, it causes increased pressure to build up on both sides of the vertebrae, resulting in pain that radiates from the lower back up into your neck.
The presence of LDD can also cause changes in posture. This can exacerbate existing neck issues and increase movement-related pain. While rest and mild exercise can help relieve some of the discomfort, seeking medical attention is advised if you are experiencing frequent neck pain.
Back pain can be a persistent source of discomfort and distress. It can come on suddenly and is usually felt as a dull, burning sensation or a sharp, stabbing ache. The pain usually starts in your lower back and radiates down the buttocks. It may gradually become worse with bending, sitting, or lifting, leading to numbness or tingling in your arms or legs.
If the space between the vertebrae starts to narrow, and the affected discs flatten out, it can lead to leg pain. People experiencing this condition may feel weakness, numbness, or sharp shooting pains in the back of the leg, hips, and buttocks. The intensity or range of this pain can vary from person to person; however, it generally does not extend beyond the knee joint.
Localized soreness in the lower back can be an indicator of lumbar disc degeneration. This pain may range from mild to severe, but is often due to inflammation around the damaged disc.
A discectomy is a surgical procedure used to treat back pain caused by a herniated disc. During the procedure, the doctor removes a portion of the disc material that is pressing on nerve roots and causing pain. The surgery is often done using minimally-invasive techniques including laser technology, or a microscope inserted through small incisions in the lower back.
Kyphoplasty is a clinically-proven procedure used to stabilize and strengthen damaged vertebrae through the use of special balloons, stem instruments, and bone cement. During kyphoplasty, we use fluoroscopy imaging to guide accurate placement when inserting a tiny balloon into the fractured area.
Then, the balloon is slowly inflated until it restores the original height of the fractured bone. The space created between the vertebrae is then filled with bone cement before deflating and removing the balloon. This restoration of the vertebrae serves to relieve pressure on surrounding nerves, thus reducing pain, increasing mobility, and offering an effective solution for patients living with these fractures.
Organic Disc Fusion
Organic disc fusion is an innovative back pain treatment that uses the body’s natural healing process. During surgery, a novel patch made of biocompatible and absorptive material is placed near the affected disc to act like a biological bandage. Over time, this patch creates an ideal environment for the bones to regrow, thereby restoring a healthy state of mobility and comfort.
Spinal Cord Stimulator
A spinal cord stimulator is a small device that is implanted directly into the patient’s skin to directly stimulate the nerves that are causing pain. By providing continuous, mild electrical pulses through the spinal cord, the stimulator helps “shut off” any painful signals before they reach the brain. Not only does this therapy help alleviate a patient’s discomfort, but it also reduces their reliance on medication.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are special types of cells that can differentiate into different types of tissue and aid in regeneration. They are either harvested from umbilical cords at birth or taken from adipose tissue in the body and processed into high-purity extracts.
When used to treat back pain caused by disc degeneration, stem cells have the ability to restore the disc’s cellularity as well as modulate the inflammatory response that might be causing the condition. The infusion of stem cells provides relief from inflammation, improves mobility, and reduces discomfort, providing substantial relief.
Risk Factors for Degenerative Disc Disease
Family History of Muskeletal Disorders
Musculoskeletal disorders relate to conditions that affect the bones, muscles, and ligaments in the body. Examples of these conditions are tendonitis, bursitis, fibromyalgia, spinal stenosis, and osteoarthritis. These disorders can be the result of age-related changes due to wear and tear on the body, or an injury resulting from a trauma such as an accident.
A family history of any one or more of these types of musculoskeletal disorders puts someone at a heightened risk for developing degenerative disc disease due to genetic predisposition.
Excessive Strain on the Low Back
Many activities can place excessive strain on the low back, leading to an increased risk of lumbar degenerative disc disease. Lifting heavy objects from awkward angles, standing or working in a bent over position for long periods of time, and participating in high-impact sports such as running and basketball, are all activities that can cause undue force on the spine.
Furthermore, repetitive activities such as yard work and housework can put extra stress on the discs in the lower back region. This could eventually lead to damage to the spinal cord’s natural cushioning system.
Nicotine causes cell damage in the annulus and nucleus of the disc, leading to compromised functional ability. In addition to causing cellular damage to the intervertebral disc structure, smoking has been linked to a decrease of nutrient supply in the bloodstream, resulting in further impairments in disc cells. This chain of events puts smokers at higher risk for developing degenerative disc disease.
Improve Your Quality of Life Today!
At Right Path Pain & Spine Center, we offer a wide range of treatments and therapies that can be used to improve your quality of life. Our chronic pain management experts will diagnose your back issue and decide which treatment is best for you. Depending on your needs, we may recommend anything from physical therapy and medications to stem cell injections or even organic disc fusion. Call us at Right Path Pain & Spine Center in Davenport, FL to schedule your appointment today!