If you’re 60 or older, you’re also more likely to experience degenerative disc disease. Left unmanaged, degenerative disc disease can negatively affect your mobility and prevent you from living an active, mobile lifestyle. The team of board-certified interventional pain management specialists at Athens Spine Center in Athens, Georgia, have years of experience diagnosing and treating degenerative disc disease with safe, minimally invasive means. To request your appointment today, call the office to speak with a team member.
Degenerative disc disease is a common, age-related condition that occurs when one or more of your vertebral discs––cushion-like rings that provide support for your vertebrae––breakdown and deteriorate. Ultimately, this causes pain, numbness, and weakness that radiates down your spinal column and into your legs.
Contrary to popular belief, degenerative disc disease isn’t an illness. Instead, it’s a result of the natural aging process. As you get older, your rubbery vertebral discs wear down and dry out. This makes them less efficient, increasing your risk of back pain.
The symptoms of degenerative disc disease vary from person to person and depend on the severity of the condition itself. Many people don’t experience any symptoms at first. However, as disc degeneration increases, telltale signs include:
If you have disc degeneration in your neck or cervical spine, you might also experience pain in your shoulders, neck, or arms.
As degenerative disc disease gets worse, it’s common to experience pain during physical activity, such as walking, lifting, or twisting.
Anyone can experience degenerative disc disease, but it’s particularly common in older individuals, especially those over the age of 60. Other risk factors include:
You’re also more likely to develop degenerative disc disease if you work a physically demanding job such as construction or landscaping.
To diagnose degenerative disc disease, your Athens Spine Center provider conducts a physical exam and reviews your medical history. Your provider asks you questions about where the pain occurs, if there’s tingling or numbness, and which activities cause the most pain.
Your provider also conducts a series of in-office tests to measure your muscle strength and nerve function. They might order a computed tomography (CT) scan, MRI, or discogram. During a discogram, your provider injects a dye into the soft center of a disc. The dye shows up on a CT scan or X-ray, allowing your provider to make a proper diagnosis.
The team at Athens Spine Center usually recommends conservative, noninvasive measures to relieve pain caused by degenerative disc disease. They might recommend rest and physical therapy, taking over-the-counter painkillers, or a series of facet joint injections. If your pain persists or gets worse, surgical intervention may be necessary.
To learn more about the treatment options for degenerative disc disease, schedule an appointment at Athens Spine Center by calling the office today.