Spinal degeneration or degeneration of the intervertebral disc is a medical condition involving the disruption in the normal integrity of the spine, which causes pain and affectation of the mobility of the person. Disc generation may be a normal part of aging; however, some may experience chronic, severe pain as well as intense affectation of one’s quality of life.
Symptoms of spinal Degeneration
Symptoms of spinal degeneration are usually uncommon because some people do not feel any changes, despite the presence of degeneration of the disc. Nevertheless, if symptoms are present, may include:
- Chronic low back pain
Back pain is the most common symptom of spinal degeneration. When the discs are affected, the nerves on the area are usually pinched or injured leading to intense feeling of pain that may radiate to the hips, buttocks or thighs, which are innervated by the injured nerve. The pain is also caused by the inflammatory repose that occurs on the disc during tissue injury. Intense pain on the back is usually the cause for debilitation of patients suffering from spinal degeneration. Pain is also aggravated by walking, lifting, bending, sitting, twisting and any movement involving the back and lower extremities.
- Neck pain
Neck pain may be apparent when the upper discs are affected; especially those that occur on the cervical spine and upper thoracic spines. The pain may radiate to the shoulders and arms. Neck pain may affect the circulation to the brain leading to vertigo, headaches and problems in cognition.
- Weakness and tingling sensations of the extremities
Spinal degeneration may also cause tingling sensations of the extremities depending on the area affected. Weakness and tingling sensations are a result of nerve impingement.
Pathophysiology of Spinal Degeneration
Spinal degeneration is a normal response to wear and tear as a result of aging. However, it may also be caused by other mechanical factors such as trauma and other metabolic diseases resulting in damage to the spinal discs.
Spinal degeneration leads to the development of degenerative fibrocartilage and group of chondrocytes in the disc. The fibrocartilage usually replaces the normal gelatinous and mucoid material at the disc due to aging process. Spinal degeneration may also lead to disc herniation or shrinkage of the disc. Spinal degeneration also commonly causes spondylolysis, spinal stenosis or vertebral subluxation.
Treatments for Spinal Degeneration
Spinal degeneration may be treated using conservative and surgical approaches. Common conservative approaches involve combination therapies such as:
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic treatment at your local Wesley Chapel chiropractor involving chiropractic manipulative treatment or spinal adjustments to remove spinal subluxations
- Osteopathic manipulation
- Analgesics and Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Lumbar support
- Heat and Cold applications
- Spinal injections of steroids or anesthetics
These managements are usually employed for patients with mild conditions and to those who still respond to these kinds of treatments. If these managements do not offer relief, then surgical managements may be considered. Surgery may involve one or more of the following surgical interventions:
- Spinal decompression to release pressure on the nerve endings
- Laminectomy or the removal of portions of the lamina to relieve pressure on the spinal cord
- Percutaneous disc decompression
- Percutaneous laser disc decompression
Other surgical procedures may also be involved depending on the physician’s suggestion. In order to prevent spinal degeneration, certain measures are needed, although it may be a part of normal process of aging. Certain preventive measures involve exercises for the back, proper diet and avoidance of injury to the area.