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A Closer Look at Degenerative Disc Disease (and What You Can Do About It) 

A Closer Look at Degenerative Disc Disease (and What You Can Do About It) 

Degenerative disc disease refers to changes in your spinal discs, which act as shock absorbers between the bones of your spine. These changes can cause pain and other symptoms that can disrupt your life. As you age, the risk of degenerative disc disease increases. 

If you’re dealing with this condition, there are effective treatments targeted toward relieving lower back pain related to degenerative disc disease.

At aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics, our physician, Dr. Brian K. Rich, is committed to helping patients better understand their conditions and treatments options. 

Fortunately, for patients with degenerative disc disease, there are a myriad of effective treatments that can help manage it.

Understanding degenerative disc disease

Over time, our spinal discs undergo wear and tear, reducing their flexibility, elasticity, and shock-absorbing abilities. Factors like aging, trauma, smoking, obesity, and heavy physical work can contribute to this. 

While this is a natural part of aging, for some people, it can cause pain and discomfort, often referred to as degenerative disc disease. Not everyone with disc degeneration will experience pain, but for those who do, it's often due to two main factors. 

First, the disc itself can cause pain due to inflammation. Second, disc degeneration can lead to other spinal conditions like herniated discs or spinal stenosis, which can be quite painful.

Symptoms of degenerative disc disease

Degenerative disc disease can result in a variety of symptoms, with the most common one being pain that often worsens with activities like bending, lifting, or twisting. This discomfort is often felt in the lower back, but can also occur in the neck. 

Depending on which discs are affected, pain and numbness can also be experienced in the arms, hands, legs, or buttocks. Some people might experience severe, debilitating pain, while others may have only mild discomfort or even none at all. The pain can be constant or intermittent, and in some cases, certain positions or movements can provide relief.

Diagnosing degenerative disc disease

When you come to aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics with back or neck pain, our team of specialists will start with a thorough physical examination. We'll discuss your symptoms and medical history to help identify potential causes of your discomfort. Imaging tests, such as MRI or X-rays, may also be used to get a closer look at your spine.

It's important to note that disc degeneration will show up in imaging tests of nearly all adults, even those without pain. Therefore, a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease is made primarily based on your symptoms and medical history, rather than solely on imaging results.

Treating degenerative disc disease

Treatment for degenerative disc disease at aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics is personalized to each patient, depending on symptoms, the severity of the disease, and the patient’s overall health. 

Many patients who visit us have tried lifestyle changes and treatments like physical therapy, and may have had some limited improvement.

Dr. Rich can work with you to explore more targeted treatments like epidural steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation, or spinal cord stimulation. These treatments are often effective in relieving back pain. Our team discusses options and recommend the most appropriate course of action for your unique situation. 

Living with degenerative disc disease

Even with degenerative disc disease, it's possible to lead a fulfilling and active life. At aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics, we encourage patients to stay as active as possible, as regular movement can help keep your spine flexible and strong. 

We can also provide guidance on lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and incorporating low-impact exercises, to help manage your symptoms and slow the progression of disc degeneration.

While degenerative disc disease might sound scary, remember that it's a natural part of aging and doesn't automatically mean a life of pain and discomfort. With the right information and the right team by your side, managing this condition is entirely possible.

For a one-on-one consultation to discuss your options with Dr. Rich, call one of our offices in Lawton, Oklahoma, or Decatur, Texas, and our scheduling coordinator will assist you. A life with less pain is possible, and our team at aCELLerated Interventional Orthopedics can help you achieve it!

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