Back pain from degenerative disc disease shouldn’t keep you from enjoying your favorite activities. The spine specialists at TriHealth Orthopedics & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine are here to help. We use state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to make sure you get the treatment to help you feel your best.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease occurs with natural wear and tear on your spine as you age. Spinal discs are often compared to a jelly donut; they have a tough outer wall and a soft inner core. As you age, discs change. The discs can dry out or crack. This can cause pain and can limit movement and range of motion.
Degenerative disc disease causes
There are several causes of degenerative disc disease. The causes include:
- Daily sports and activities
- Disc drying out
- Gradual wear and tear caused by age
Degenerative disc disease symptoms
Common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:
- Foot drop
- Numbness and tingling in arms and legs
- Pain that is worse when sitting
- Pain that worsens with activity, including bending, lifting or twisting
- Severe pain that comes and goes
- Weakness in arms and hands and/or legs
Degenerative disc disease treatment
Spinal specialists work closely with you to create a plan to ease symptoms and reduce pain. We also start with a conservative approach before recommending surgery. Your treatment options may include:
- Physical therapy – The first step in managing pain and other symptoms of degenerative disc disease is physical therapy. A certified physical therapist will teach you stretches and strengthening exercises to improve flexibility and stability of the spine; strengthen muscles and reduce pain.
- Medicine – Over-the-counter and prescription medicine can help relieve chronic pain, reduce inflammation and help you find comfort.
- Steroid injections – Corticosteroid injections reduce inflammation and help relieve pain caused by spinal stenosis.
- Microdiscectomy – This outpatient procedure removes a tiny bit of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
- Mazor X – A robotic-guided spine surgery, Mazor X uses 3D imaging to allow your surgeon to customize surgery to your specific anatomy and needs. This leads to better outcomes and faster recovery.
- Fusion surgery – A fusion surgery combines two procedures – a discectomy where a small part of the vertebra is removed and fusion surgery. Fusion surgery uses hardware to connect two or more vertebrae to reduce slippage.
Degenerative disc disease risk factors
Degenerative disc disease generally happens with aging. But you may be at higher risk of developing the condition if you:
- Are a smoker
- Are overweight
- Frequently lift heavy objects or twist and turn your back
- Have a family history of back pain
- Have weak core muscles
- Perform labor-intensive jobs
- Played sports or activities that caused low back strain
Degenerative disc disease prevention
It may not be possible to prevent degenerative disc disease. But there are steps you can take to slow the onset of symptoms. Try to:
- Avoid lifting heavy objects with legs, not your back
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly and choose activities that don’t strain the lower back (walking, swimming, biking)
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stop smoking
- Stretch regularly to improve flexibility
- Use good posture
Make an appointment
If you’re struggling to manage pain caused by degenerative disc disease, the teams at TriHealth Orthopedics & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine are here to help you find relief. To learn more or make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist: Call TriHealth at 513 246 2300 or our orthopedic partner, Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, at 513 354 3700.