6 Things You Need to Know About Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease, a cause of lower back pain
Degenerative disc disease is part of the normal spinal aging of the spine. Whenever a spinal disc degenerates, it loses its capacity to function in an efficient way, resulting in back pain and sometimes, pain that radiates through the extremities. Everyone goes through disc degeneration as they get older. Sometimes, the condition can hit during the late teens due to a result of surgery, bad genetics or trauma.
The lumbar degenerative disc disease is among the most common causes of lower back pain. However, people are not much aware about it. Here are 5 most important things you should know about the condition:
1. The Symptoms May Not Get Worse With Time
Most people take the term “degenerative” too seriously. Hence, according to them, symptoms of degenerative disc disease tend to worsen over time. This may be quite scary for patients. However, the pain from degenerative disc disease actually improves over time but not worsen. It only worsens with age. The term “degenerative” is used to refer to the process of spinal discs degenerating over time.
2. Symptoms of Lumbar Degenerative Disc
Many symptoms are consistent for people suffering from lower back pain or neck pain from degenerative disc disease. Some of these include:
- Pain related to activity which flares up at times and return to low-grade pain level. Sometimes, the pain will go away completely.
- The amount of chronic pain (baseline level of pain) may vary from one individual to the other. It can even range from almost no pain to severe and disabling pain
- Patient may experience many episodes of back or neck pain that last from a few days to a few months prior to returning to the baseline level of chronic pain.
- Chronic pain from degenerative disc disease is very rare.
- Activities involving twisting, bending, and lifting make the pain worse in most cases.
- Certain positions can also increase the severity of pain. The lumbar degenerative disc pain gets worse with sitting as lumbosacral discs are loaded thrice the time when standing.
- Walking and running may make the patient feel better.
- Patients usually feel better when they can change positions frequently.
- Patients with lumbar DDD usually feel better lying in a reclining position. For instance, lying down with a pillow under the knees to relieve stress on lumbar disc space.
3. Underlying Problem with Lumbar Degenerative Disc
Many patients with degenerative disc disease have certain underlying chronic low back pain or neck pain. The experience intermittent episodes severe pain. The primary cause of pain is unknown. However, abnormal micromotion of degenerated disc is known to spur an inflammatory reaction. The body reacts to pain with muscle spasms to stabilize the spine and reduce micromotion.
4. Lumbar Degenerative Disc is Not A Disease
It is important to understand that degenerative disc disease is not a disease. The condition is a normal part of the natural aging process. This also means that most people may experience a certain degree of degeneration to spinal discs as a process of aging. However, the good news is that the majority of people do not experience painful symptoms of disc degeneration. Additionally, degeneration is not always related to the severity of symptoms. For instance, severely degenerated discs in a patient may only cause minor discomfort.
5. Surgery is an exception for Lumbar Degenerative Disc
Most patients are afraid of surgery. They don’t want to go under the knife to address their degenerative disc disease. However, most of degenerative disc disease cases are successfully treated with conservative measures. Some of the best measures include:
– Heat Therapy
– Activity Modification
– Cold Therapy
– Pain medication
Surgery is only considered when patient’s day-to day functioning is restricted severely by symptoms. Also, when a patient’s body does not respond to conservative treatments, surgery is considered. Under such conditions, the medical professional may recommend lumbar disc replacement surgery or lumbar spinal fusion surgery depending on the specific condition.
6. Controlling Disc Degeneration
There are several things you can do to control the condition. The best thing to do is to stay active. This will naturally slow down the rate of disc degeneration. So start participating in some activities under the guidance of a medical practitioner. You need to wait until the pain is significantly controlled. Regular exercises will preserve existing functionality and heal the back. Exercise is very helpful in boosting blood flow, oxygen and other nutrients to the back and discs which will keep them hydrated and even pliable. Physical activities enhance one’s sense of overall well-being via promoting the ample release of endorphins (pain-reliever and stress reducer naturally produced in the body).
To Sum Up for Lumbar Degenerative Disc
Hope all of the above cited information has helped you know about degenerative disc disease. Equipped with this info, you can communicate with your doctor in a better way which will lead to a quicker path to healing.