For millions of Americans, chronic low back pain is experienced on a daily basis. One of the most common reasons for this is due to what it’s called discogenic pain. This is due to degeneration of the intervertebral disc, which is the soft tissue area between the bony vertebrae that normally acts as an excellent shock absorber with movement.
There are two components to the normal intravertebral disk. The inner jelly part is called the nucleus pulposis, and the outer firmer part is called the annulus fibrosis.
The healthy intervertebral disc contains 80% water along with 20% proteins and collagens. With aging, the disc begins to lose its blood supply along with its water content. In certain individuals, this may lead to painful degeneration. The known risk factors for low back pain due to degenerative disc disease is increasing age, smoking, genetics along with occupations such as being a truck driver or construction worker.
Most degenerative disc disease is actually not painful at all. However, it may be disabling to some individuals.
Usually an MRI will show the loss of fluid and height in the degenerative disc, and a discogram procedure can help diagnose the degenerative disc is the source of an individual’s pain.
Treatment for symptomatic degenerative disc disease should begin with over-the-counter pain medications including NSAIDs and Tylenol. Additional treatments may include physical therapy along with electrical stimulation and ultrasound.
For short-term exacerbations of pain, muscle relaxants may help along with narcotic medications. With long-term usage, the risks of these medications outweigh the benefits. This may include addiction, intolerance, constipation and depression.
Chiropractic manipulations along with acupuncture and spinal decompression therapy include complementary medicine treatments that have shown to have significant benefits in multiple research studies.
If the disc has degenerated with tears in the outer part leading to the chemical irritation of the adjacent nerve roots, an epidural steroid injection can be very helpful.
Most of the time, surgery for discogenic pain due to degenerative disc disease is not necessary. Over 80% of individuals are able to achieve a satisfactory baseline pain level and avoid lumbar surgery.
If you or a loved one is suffering from DDD and low back pain, conservative treatment is available with the best pain management Los Angeles has to offer. The California Pain Network connects those in pain with relievers in the Los Angeles area, call (310) 626-1526 today!