What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

In a healthy individual, the vertebral discs act as cushions, helping to protect the vertebrae from becoming damaged. However, people who suffer from Degenerative Disc Disease in Plano TX develop a weakening of the vertebral discs. While this can be the effect of an accidental injury, it can also occur as a normal part of aging. Understanding how the vertebral discs become damaged makes it easier to treat the condition.

A Deeper Look at Degenerative Disc Disease

The onset of disc disease occurs with small rips in the disc wall, which is called the annulus. These tears are responsible for the first feelings of pain you would likely experience. Over time, these tears will heal, but the process leaves behind scar tissue that weakens the disc wall. Repetitive tearing and scarring further weakens the disc wall.
The problem is further exacerbated by the weakening of the pulposus, which is the center of each disc. The pulposus contains water that acts as a cushion to help protect the spine, but disc damage causes a loss of water from the center of each disc. When this occurs, the disc collapses and allows the vertebral bones to touch and grind together.
The touching of the vertebral bones will often cause bone spurs to develop. The spurs can be pushed into the spinal canal, where they will pinch the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. The condition, known as spinal stenosis, is often very painful.
While flare-ups of intense pain may occur periodically, it’s also common to experience numbness or tingling in the legs. The pain caused by degenerative disc disease is often intensified by bending or twisting. While sitting may also cause pain to flare up, lying down alleviates pressure on the spine and works to reduce the pain.

Treating Degenerative Disc Disease

There are several ways to treat disc disease. One method is self-care, which incorporates physical therapy and low-impact exercise. If this type of natural treatment interests you, a specialist experienced with treating Degenerative Disc Disease in Plano TX can advise you on safe and effective exercises.
Another effective natural treatment is chiropractic therapy. Your chiropractor should work together with your doctor to provide the best possible treatment. A spinal adjustment is often enough to relieve pressure and alleviate the accompanying pain. Additionally, your chiropractor may provide more types of treatment to relieve your condition. It will depend on his evaluation of your condition.

Medication is also used in some cases, though usually only nonprescription strength drugs are prescribed due to the dangers of addiction. Your doctor may suggest taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as aspirin, or acetaminophen. For more severe pain, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxers or antidepressant medications.
If these methods of treatment aren’t effective, you may need to consult an orthopedic spine surgeon, such as Dr. Stephen Courtney. The surgeon will advise you on the best procedures to alleviate your spine problems. Going through the process step by step, your surgeon will help you understand what you can expect from the operation, so you’ll be prepared to make an informed decision.


Call 972-499-5457 to schedule a neck or back consultation with one of the best orthopedic spine surgeons, Dr Courtney.

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