Sunday, December 16, 2018

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Back Pain Caused By Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)

Are you one of the many people who suffer from back pain? There are a multitude of causes of lower back pain, not to mention neck pain. One of the most common causes is degenerative disc disease (DDD). DDD is not a disease but a term to describe the normal changes in your spinal disc as you age.

Unfortunately, as we all get older so does our spine; degeneration can take place anywhere on the spine, but most often it affects our discs. These changes can result in neck or lower back pain. These changes can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots resulting in back pain.

Aging may cause the loss of fluid in your discs. This reduces the natural shock absorbing ability of the disc, and will make you less flexible. Also, the disc will become thinner and narrower, compressing the space between the vertebrae. Cracks may occur in the outer layer of the disc. This may allow the jelly-like material in the disc to bulge (bulging disc) or to break open (ruptured disc). These changes may also begin due to an injury. Heavy lifting, smoking and obesity may also begin the degenerative process in the spine.

Symptoms of DDD vary from person to person, as the pain is dependant upon the location of the affected disc. An affected disc in the neck will produce neck or arm pain, an affected disc in the lower back will produce lower back and leg pain. This pain will often get worse with bending over, reaching up or twisting. Numbness, tingling and weakness may also be present in the affected area.

DDD is diagnosed with your physician performing a physical exam and taking your medical history. Further tests may be ordered if your symptoms developed after an injury or if the physician suspects another more serious condition is causing your symptoms. DDD treatment consists of pain management which may include over the counter or prescription. Epidural Steroid Injections, acupuncture and chiropractic care are alternative treatments that may also help with the pain.

Exercise is an important part of the healing process. Exercise increases strength and encourages the flow of blood & nutrients to the back and degenerating discs. Strengthening of the deep core muscles will help to stabilize the spine. Your physician will refer you to physical therapy for a customized plan of treatment.