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Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease: All We Need To Know

About

Degenerative disc disease is a condition which occurs when one or more of the discs between the vertebrae deteriorates or breaks down, causing pain.

In India, there are more than 10 million cases per year. [1]

- Not self-treatable
- Not self-diagnosable
- Lab tests or imaging are required
- Chronic: can last for years or can be lifelong

Causes

Changes such as aging and stress on the spine can damage discs. Other changes include:
- Loss of fluid: With age, fluid content decreases making the disc thinner. The distance between vertebrae becomes smaller which makes it less effective as a cushion.
- Disc structure: Due to the appearance of small cracks and tears, the soft material of the inner part may seep out causing the disc to rupture. The disc may break into fragments.

Most vulnerable:
Factors leading to degeneration are:
- Obesity
- Heavy physical work
- Smoking tobacco
- An acute injury

Symptoms

Self-diagnosis: Pain and weakness or numbness
Medical symptoms:
- Spine loses flexibility
- Bone spurs may pinch a nerve root leading to pain
People may experience: Pain in the back, legs, thighs, buttocks, neck and lower back which may worsen on standing and reduces on walking, moving and lying down
Also common: Nerve injury, physical deformity and stiffness

Treatment

Self-care:
Doing exercises as suggested by the doctor helps in relieving pain.

Medicines:
Pain relievers, if recommended can help fight inflammation. They reduce pain and swelling. Getting physical therapies from a physiotherapist helps in treating degeneration. Also, steroid shots as per prescription may prove to be helpful.
If other treatments don’t work, then the doctor may suggest surgery. Removing the injured part of the disc using discectomy may help to take off pressure from the nerves. In some cases, the doctor may remove the whole disc and put an artificial one.

Specialists:
For further concerns, contact a physician or an orthopaedist. At mfine, you will receive a holistic treatment plan for optimum health.

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