Degenerative disc disease affects everyone to some degree as they get older, but for some, it turns into excruciating pain that stops them from staying active and enjoying life. At Seattle Spine Institute, Paul E. Schwaegler, MD, and Jeff Fernandez, PA, have helped many people overcome their pain, beginning with conservative therapies or using extensive surgical skills to remove the disc and restore spinal strength. If you need help with low back pain, don’t wait to call the office in Seattle, Washington, or use the online booking feature today.
Degenerative disc disease occurs as the rubbery discs between spinal vertebrae deteriorate. In most cases, the problem develops naturally over years of wear and tear. However, it could occur after a severe back injury.
Spinal discs have a tough outer cover enclosing a gel-like substance in the center. As you get older, the cover develops small tears that usually heal. But as they heal, scar tissue develops that’s weaker than the original tissue.
Whether you have tears or scar tissue, the outer layer struggles to support the disc and maintain its essential function. At the same time, the inner nucleus loses water. Ultimately, the disc shrinks and collapses.
When the disc stops acting as a shock-absorbing cushion, the spine becomes unstable, and the vertebrae move out of their usual alignment. That leads to problems such as pinched nerves, bone spurs, and arthritis.
Degenerative disc disease causes low back pain. Your pain may range from mild to debilitating, and it could be a constant pain or come and go. If the damaged disc pinches a nerve, you experience pain, tingling, or numbness in your leg.
The pain usually worsens when you bend, twist, or sit, then improves if you get up and walk. Lying down also eases the pressure and pain.
Your Seattle Spine Institute provider creates an individualized treatment plan based on the severity of your symptoms. Most people need a combination of medications and physical therapy.
Physical therapy strengthens your lower back and increases spinal flexibility. Your therapist can also teach you how to lift and move in ways that reduce stress on your lower back.
Your provider may also recommend an injection containing a steroid and local anesthetic. They use real-time X-ray imaging to precisely place the medications at the site of the inflamed nerve. The anesthetic provides fast symptom relief, while the steroid gives you longer-lasting results.
If your pain persists after several months of treatment, your provider may talk with you about minimally invasive spine surgery. They can repair the problem by removing the damaged disc, then fusing the two vertebrae, or implanting an artificial disc.
Don’t let low back pain keep you away from your favorite activities. Call Seattle Spine Institute or book an appointment online today.