ANSWER: Degenerative disk disease is a common cause of back pain. Our spinal disks wear out with age and use. About 20% of all U.S. adults have some amount of degeneration by age 65. This increases to about 35% by 80.
Is Degenerative Disc Disease Serious? Degenerative Disc Disease is not life threatening, but if left untreated, can lead to debilitating pain, permanent damage, and serious conditions such as spinal osteoarthritis, herniated discs, spinal stenosis and potentially paralysis.
Most people's spinal discs degenerate over time. By the age of 35, approximately 30% of people will show evidence of disc degeneration at one or more levels. By the age of 60, more than 90% of people will show evidence of some disc degeneration.
Stage 4 is considered severe DDD because it is challenging or impossible to reverse in many cases. It may still be possible to treat the condition and improve your quality of life though. Typically, treatment will involve some physical activity and exercises to reduce pain levels.
Pain medication and physical therapy can manage symptoms and help the body adjust to the damaged disc. Together, these treatments can relieve pain and improve function, often long term.
Consider over-the-counter medications to fight inflammation or prescription medications for pain. Consider physical therapy to strengthen your neck and back muscles (which help to support your spine) Practice back-friendly postures including lifting safely and using good posture when sitting, standing, and walking.
Long-term Outcomes of Degenerative Disc Disease
The degenerative process of the spinal disc may start gradually or suddenly, but progresses over 2 to 3 decades from severe and at times even disabling bouts of pain to a state in which the spine is restabilized and the pain is diminished. Spinal osteoarthritis.
Physical therapy: Participating in strengthening and stretching exercises with a trained healthcare provider. Medications: Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxers or steroids. Steroid injections: Injecting medicine near your spinal nerves, disk or joints to reduce inflammation and pain.
Most patients with DDD will not need surgery. However, if you develop significant nerve problems or loss of bowel and bladder control, which is a serious disorder called cauda equina syndrome (which can affect your nerves), surgery may be required. If you notice these symptoms, call your doctor immediately.
To qualify automatically for SSDI because of degenerative disc disease, you must have to have severe symptoms such as requiring assistance to walk, needing to adjust your position more than every two hours and suffer from nerve-specific problems.
Without appropriate treatment, degenerative disc disease can cause lasting, debilitating back pain. The pain may become so severe that you find it difficult to carry out your normal daily activities. It can interfere with your mobility and your overall quality of life.
The main cause of degenerative disc disease is aging. However, multiple risk factors can speed up the process of disc degeneration and cause it to occur at a young age. If someone gets DDD at a younger age, it's usually because of: acute or sudden injury (such as a fall)
Muscle tension or muscle spasms, which are common effects of spinal instability. In some cases, a degenerated disc may cause no pain but muscle spasms are severely painful and temporarily debilitating. Possible radiating pain that feels sharp, stabbing, or hot.
If back or neck pain caused by degenerative disc disease doesn't respond to medication or therapeutic injections, NYU Langone doctors may recommend a surgical procedure. Surgeons may remove some or all of a damaged disc, take pressure off a pinched nerve, or eliminate movement between the bones of the spine.
Degenerated discs are prone to out-pouching (herniation); the protruding disc can press against one of the spinal nerves that run from the spinal cord to the rest of the body. This pressure causes pain, weakness, and numbness in the back and legs.
The success rate for this treatment is greater than 95 percent, making it ideal for addressing back and leg pain that has not been eliminated through physical therapy and steroid injections.
DISC DEGENRATIVE DISEASE L4-L5 CAUSES
Tiny tears or cracks in the outer layer of the disc – Pressure on the outer layer of a disc can result in the development of small tears. The jellylike material from inside the disc can then seep through these cracks – a condition known as a herniated disc.
Degeneration occurs because of age-related wear-and-tear on a spinal disc, and may be accelerated by injury, health and lifestyle factors, and possibly by genetic predisposition to joint pain or musculoskeletal disorders. Degenerative disc disease rarely starts from a major trauma such as a car accident.
Unfortunately, there's currently no cure for degenerative disc disease, and once you're diagnosed with DDD, it's typically a lifelong journey of learning to live with back pain, neck pain, or other symptoms.
The good news: Symptoms don't typically progress. "A diagnosis in your 30s or 40s doesn't mean you'll be in a wheelchair by 70," says Matthew Colman, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Rush. "In fact, with aging, the degenerative process sometimes burns out to a point where it causes less pain."
Yes, degenerative disc disease can be disabling. The weakening of your discs can lead to excruciating, chronic pain worsened by work activities. Whether or not your degenerative disc disease is classified as a disability will depend on the severity and frequency of your pain.
Stage 3 is marked by a more extreme change in the posture and curvature of the spine, along with more pain and loss of mobility. Nerve damage is common and scar tissue typically begins to form. Discs are even thinner than before, which can sometimes cause even more deformation of the bones.