What’s Behind Your Degenerating Discs?

degenerative disc disease Fort Worth TXThe passing years take a toll on our entire body, and it holds up remarkably well. But our vertebrae and spinal discs show their age with degenerative disc disease. Not an actual “disease,” this is a condition where the natural wear and tear on the spinal discs causes one or more discs to become unstable, leading to pain and other symptoms.

We help our patients with the various symptoms and pain caused by degenerative disc disease.

What is degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease is really just a matter of wear and tear, similar to how osteoarthritis affects the joints. Degenerative disc disease is an ongoing degradation of the spinal discs due to the loads they bear day in and day out. The changes can occur throughout the spine, but they are typical in the discs of the lower back (the lumbar spine) and the neck (the cervical spine). The damaged discs in these areas can lead to direct pain, but the pain can also radiate out to the extremities.

Why does this happen?

Our spinal discs are pretty amazing considering the loads they bear every day and considering how they allow us to move so fluidly. But aging causes two major changes in our discs.

  • Decreasing fluid in the discs — When we’re young our spinal discs are like soft gel-filled pads. They provide excellent shock absorption and flexibility. As we age, the discs begin to dry out. This limits their ability to absorb shocks and decreases flexibility. They also become thinner, and this closes the gap between the vertebrae.
  • Tears or cracks in the outer membrane — The outer membrane of the discs become prone to developing tiny cracks or tears. This allows the jellylike material inside to push outward. This is a bulging disc or can become a ruptured disc.

These problems are more likely if you frequently lift heavy objects, if you’re obese, and if you smoke cigarettes. Trauma from a fall or a car wreck can also lead to degeneration. The discs don’t have a blood supply, so once injured they are unable to heal.

As the discs thin and the distance between the vertebrae close, the body responds by creating bone spurs to try and stabilize the spine. These bone spurs can then begin to push on the nerve roots exiting the spinal column, resulting in pain. Bulging discs can create the same pressure.

At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, we have a variety of treatment options for the pain that results from degenerative disc disease. If you suffer from chronic pain in your neck or lower back, this could be the cause. Call us at (817) 916-4685 to schedule an appointment and let’s get to the bottom of your pain.

Posted in: Degenerative Disc Disease

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