The spine is made up of a spinal cord, nerve, vertebrae and discs. When a disc degenerates, it begins to lose integrity due to fluid loss. The normal baseline of a healthy intervertebral disc is 80% water and 20% proteins and other substances.
Disc degeneration occurs over time, as water is lost. There may be a genetic component along with an occupational degeneration, such as degeneration from the repetitive activity of being a truck driver. Degenerative disc disease often presents painful symptoms, such as chronic low back pain.
The condition is visible on an MRI and is more common than people think. Approximately one-third of the population between the ages of 30 and 50 show evidence of degenerative disc disease. Interestingly, most people who have DDD have no pain at all. A small few have unfortunate daily pain.
Treatment may be necessary to relieve pain and symptoms associated with the disease, although calling it a disease is a bit of a misnomer. Below are three of the best ways to treat this painful condition.
The most effective method of relieving painful symptoms related to degenerative disc disease is the use of medication. Medication is most effective in patients who report mild to moderate levels of pain. Tylenol, NSAIDs and other anti-inflammatory medications are often given to relieve pain.
Narcotics are not typically administered for long-term use due to the risk of addiction and tolerance. Narcotics are effective in treating acute pain when needed. Careful monitoring by a Los Angeles pain management doctor is required.
2. Physical Therapy and Chiropractic
Therapy, in the form of physical rehab and chiropractic, is extremely effective in the treatment of degenerative disc disease. Physical therapy (PT) helps to strengthen the muscles that surround the spine, as well as improve strength to the body’s core. Abdominal muscles are stabilized and pressure is relieved. As a result, pain is reduced through physical therapy.
Chiropractic manipulation is an effective means of treatment because of the restoration of blood flow. In the event of a pinched nerve or decompression, chiropractic manipulation can help relieve the problem. Adjustments to the spine promote endorphin release, which results in pain relief. In some cases spinal decompression therapy has shown an 80% improvement in patients within six months of receiving treatment.
Temporary pain relief can be obtained through steroidal injection treatment. Studies conducted in 2004 and in 2011 show short-term benefits from injections into the intervertebral disc.
An epidural steroid injection may help as well if the degenerative disc leads to irritation of nearby nerve roots. Regenerative medicine is being looked at for disc injections, such as with platelet rich plasma and stem cell injections.
If you are suffering from chronic back pain, the California Pain Network can help you. The Network connects those in pain with pain management Los Angeles trusts.
Simply complete the form on the page or call (310) 626-1526 for more information and scheduling today!