How Do You Know If You Have Degenerative Disc Disease?

How Do You Know If You Have Degenerative Disc Disease?

According to the Medical Advisory Secretariat, approximately 40% of people over 40 have degenerative disc disease. It is not easy to know that you have disc disease because its development is gradual and can present with related problems, like herniated discs and spinal stenosis.  To diagnose Degenerative Disc Disease, your doctor can perform a number of procedures and tests. Learn more about them as well as the symptoms that accompany this condition.

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

Most people’s spinal discs show signs of wear as they age, but not everyone develops degenerative disc disease. People who have this condition experience symptoms like:

  • Numbness and tingling in extremities
  • Pain that worsens when sitting, bending, twisting, or lifting
  • Decreased pain when lying down 
  • Weakness in legs
  • Foot drop (difficulty lifting the front part of the foot)

There can also be periods of severe pain that can last for a few days or even a few months. The pain can affect the buttocks, thighs, lower back, or even the neck, depending on the affected discs. 

Neurological and Physical Examinations

To diagnose degenerative disc disease, your doctor will perform a neurological exam. They will test your reflexes and muscle strength, determine whether there are other nerve changes, and record how your pain spreads. 

They will then observe your posture and perform a physical exam. They will feel your spine to check its alignment and curvature, and they will also feel for muscle spasms. 

Imaging Tests

An exam can contribute a lot of data that can inform a diagnosis, but spinal imaging is crucial to determine a confirmed diagnosis of degenerative disc disease. X-rays allow your doctor to see whether there are any narrowed spinal channels, bone spurs, fractures, or osteoarthritis.

Your doctor may also request a CT scan or an MRI. These tests are more effective than standard X-rays for seeing soft tissues in your spine. With this more advanced imaging, your doctor can see if you have any herniated or bulging discs. 

They can also perform a discogram, a procedure that involves injecting dye into one of your discs. If there is a problem with the disc, it will leak the dye. 

Finally, the doctor may perform a test known as a myelogram. This time, dye is injected into the area around your spinal cord, allowing your doctor to see if you have a spinal cord disorder

Do You Have Degenerative Disc Disease?

If you suspect you may have degenerative disc disease, reach out to professionals to get the right diagnosis. Only then can you find the options for treatment most suitable for alleviating the painful symptoms you feel. Many patients have discovered regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, as a potential option to help manage their degenerative disc disease. Stem cells have the properties to help repair and replace damaged tissues allowing for a healing cascade to eliminate pain and inflammation. If you have Degenerative Disc Disease and you want to learn more about the options available at stemedix, contact us today!

When To See a Specialist About Back Pain

When To See a Specialist About Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most frequent physical complaints among adults. It’s also the leading cause of missed work in the U.S. Most back pain goes away on its own within a week or two, but if you have persistent severe back pain or pain that is accompanied by other symptoms, it may be time to see a specialist. Here we will learn when to see a specialist about back pain.

Signs Your Back Pain May Require Treatment

Rest, ice packs, and mild stretching are often enough to relieve back pain, but pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong. If you’re experiencing any of the following along with your back pain, make an appointment with a healthcare professional.

Numbness and Tingling

Numbness, burning, tingling, or pain that radiates into the buttocks and down one or both legs could be a symptom of spinal stenosis. 

Spinal stenosis is an orthopedic condition that causes the spinal canal to narrow and put pressure on the spinal nerves. Treatments for spinal stenosis include physical therapy, pain medication, surgery, and non-invasive regenerative medicine.

Incontinence

Experiencing urinary or bowel incontinence with back pain is a sign of a serious problem known as cauda equina syndrome. With this condition, the compression of a grouping of nerves — the cauda equina nerves — causes a loss of bowel or bladder control. Seek emergency medical help if you experience incontinence with back pain.

High Fever

A fever may indicate that your back pain is caused by an infection. Fever is a reaction of the immune system as it tries to combat harmful germs before they do severe damage. 

People with compromised immune systems or autoimmune diseases may have difficulty fighting off infection naturally. It’s possible that the two symptoms are unrelated, but fever with back pain could indicate an infection of the spine, a bladder or kidney infection, spinal cancer, shingles, or other conditions that require medical intervention.

Back Trauma

If you have taken a fall, been in a car accident, or experienced another type of trauma, your back pain could be caused by an undetected back injury. 

It’s normal to feel stiff or sore for the first 24-72 hours after a trauma, but if rest and over-the-counter pain medication aren’t enough to reduce your pain, you may have injured a muscle or have a small fracture in one of the bones in your back.

Don’t Ignore Pain

Don’t assume your back pain is “nothing” or that it will go away on its own. Back problems can turn into serious health issues if they’re not taken care of properly. If you have any of the above symptoms or pain that persists even though you’re taking care of yourself, pain management can ease your suffering. If you would like to learn more about pain management for back pain contact stemedix today and speak with a care coordinator.

Steroids Vs Stem Cell Therapy: Degenerative Disc Disease

Steroids Vs Stem Cell Therapy: Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common and misunderstood causes of lower back pain and neck pain. Instead of referring to a specific ailment, degenerative disc disease is a catch-all term covering many conditions that arise due to general wear and tear on a spinal disc. Here we will talk about Degenerative Disc Disease: Steroids Vs Stem Cell Therapy.

The word “degenerative” implies that the symptoms occur in older people and worsen with age. However, it refers to the disc degenerating over time. While most patients with degenerative disc disease are in their 30s or 40s, it’s not uncommon to present in patients in their 20s. 

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

Patients with degenerative disc disease are generally active and otherwise healthy. Symptoms that many patients experience include:

  • Pain that is worse when sitting
  • Pain that worsens when bending, lifting, or twisting
  • Feeling better when walking or running than standing 
  • Periods of severe pain that come and go
  • Numbness or tingling in extremities
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Hot, shooting pain in the arms or legs

Most patients with degenerative disc disease experience chronic low-level pain with episodes of severe pain. 

Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease

Many patients with degenerative disc disease experience relief from natural treatments or lifestyle changes that alleviate pressure and strengthen the muscles around the affected disc. These include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Weight loss
  • Personalized exercises

When these options don’t provide relief, medical interventions may be necessary. Medical practitioners’ standard treatments for degenerative disc disease are surgical intervention or epidural steroid injections. However, the emergence of regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, adds a new, viable option for degenerative disc disease.

Surgical Intervention

Surgical options for those suffering from degenerative disc disease may alleviate pain but don’t always address the root cause. The least intrusive surgical option is a microdiscectomy, removing the intervertebral disc fragments that cause pain by compressing the spinal nerve root. 

Another surgical option to treat degenerative disc disease is spinal fusion surgery. In this procedure, patients find relief through fusing the vertebrae around the injured disc, limiting the movement of the affected disc. 

Unfortunately, the fused vertebrae divert the pressure over time to other spine areas, and new problems often arise, such as herniation, stenosis, or spondylosis.

Lastly, some patients opt for a total disc replacement surgery, where an artificial disc replaces the affected disc. Total disc replacement surgery often sees the same outcomes as spinal fusion surgery. 

Epidural Steroid Injections

Many patients who want to avoid surgery find pain relief through steroid injections. Steroids provide powerful anti-inflammatory medications to the herniated disc, reducing the sensitivity of nerve endings and triggering the body’s natural healing process.

While steroid injections are an effective tool for treating disc herniation, they are less effective in treating deeper disc issues. 

Stem Cell Therapy

New research reveals that adult stem cells may effectively treat back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. Since the spine’s discs have a minimal blood supply, their ability to heal themselves is limited. 

However, stem cells’ uniqueness lies in their ability to repair damage. When injected into a damaged disc, they have the potential to regenerate the ligaments, repair soft tissue damage and promote healing. In some cases, stem cell injections restore disc heights to normal levels, and alleviate pain in. Relief and improvements have been reported to be felt within six months of therapy.

Treatments for degenerative disc disease have long fallen short of providing a long-term solution to ongoing pain. However, the emergence of stem cell therapy as a treatment offers new hope for those suffering from chronic back pain. If you are interested in learning more about steroids vs stem cell therapy contact a care coordinator today and schedule a free consultation. If you would like to take a look at some of reviews you can do so here!

How to Manage Herniated Disc Pain

How to Manage Herniated Disc Pain

Achy or sharp pain that radiates to the shoulder, arm, buttocks, or leg may be a sign that you have a herniated disc in your neck or back. Herniated discs occur in any part of the spine but are most common in the lower back. Depending on the location, the herniated disc may cause pain, numbness, or weakness in your arms or legs. Here we will talk about how to manage herniated disc pain.

What Is a Herniated Disc?

Your spine has 33 stacked vertebrae, which protect the spinal cord and nerves from injury. Between those bones are intervertebral discs. The discs serve as soft, rubbery cushions under constant pressure and act as the spine’s shock absorbers. 

Intervertebral discs consist of two parts: a soft, jellylike center called a nucleus, and a more rigid, flexible outer ring called an annulus. When the disc tears, leaks, or ruptures, the nucleus pushes out and puts pressure on the nearby spinal nerves. This is known as a herniated disc.

Most often, gradual, age-related wear and tear causes herniated discs. With age, the discs become less flexible and prone to tearing or rupturing with even minor strain or twists. 

Relieving Herniated Disc Pain

Herniated discs usually heal on their own over time, but they can still be painful. However, the following strategies often offer relief from herniated disc pain:

Reduce Inflammation and Tension

When you experience a herniated disc, the muscles around the disc may tighten to protect the area. Heat and cold therapy can reduce tightness and inflammation in the body around the disc, causing increased pain at the site.

Heat loosens muscle tightness, increases blood flow, and improves tissue elasticity. In contrast, cold produces an anti-inflammatory effect. 

Try applying heat to your back in the morning, before exercise, or for 10–15 minute periods throughout the day to release muscle tension. After exercise or at the end of the day, apply cold to the back to relieve inflammation. 

Exercise and Careful Movements

Lack of movement often aggravates herniated discs, as the muscles will lock up and weaken, providing less support to the spine. Low-impact exercise that your body tolerates may assist with pain relief. Exercises to consider include:

  • Walking
  • Using an elliptical trainer
  • Cycling on a recumbent bicycle

Patients with more severe pain may find that water exercises offer the most relief by providing buoyancy along with movement. 

Additionally, it’s important to use careful movements while your spine is recovering. For example, avoid standing for long periods, practice good posture, and try not to lift any heavy objects until your symptoms subside.

Myofascial Release or Massage

Myofascial release may improve back pain by manually putting pressure on trigger points. Both physical therapists and massage therapists often use this approach. You can perform myofascial release at home with a lacrosse or therapy ball or with a massage cane. 

First, identify points of tension or tenderness on your back. Then, maintain constant pressure on your trigger point for one to two minutes, allowing the muscle to release. After any myofascial release, apply cold therapy to the area to reduce inflammation from the pressure. 

If your herniated disc pain persists for more than four to six weeks, causes you to be unable to work, or causes numbness, weakness, or tingling in your arms and legs, you need to have your symptoms evaluated by a physician. If you want to learn more about options you have regarding how to manage herniated disc pain, contact us today and speak with a care coordinator.

Pain Management for Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease

Pain Management for Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease

If you suffer from neck pain or pain that radiates down the arm, you may have cervical degenerative disc disease (CDDD). CDDD develops with the cushioning in the discs of the cervical spine (the neck) begin to break down. This breakdown can happen due to injury, genetics, or normal wear and tear. Without the natural cushioning for protection, discs may become herniated, or the patient may develop spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis. Here we will talk about Pain Management for Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease.

Can I Avoid Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease?

Nearly everyone develops CDDD as they age. However, there are lifestyle changes you can make to help improve the health of your spine and cervical discs. In addition to protecting spine health, the following tips may help decrease pain for those who are already experiencing the degenerative process:

Eat a Healthy Diet

Moderating your intake of salt, alcohol, and caffeine may help keep your spine healthy, as can eating a balanced diet full of fresh food and lean protein.

Stay Hydrated

Discs lose water as they age, so proper hydration plays an important role in maintaining disc health. Water also helps to deliver nutrients to the spine and carry away wastes.

Exercise

Daily walking, light stretching, strength training, and other low-impact exercise helps maintain flexibility in the cervical joints and reduce pain associated with cervical degenerative disease.

Quit Smoking

Nicotine inhibits bone growth and decreases the amount of oxygen that gets delivered to the discs as well as the rest of the body’s systems.

Practice Good Posture

Proper alignment when you walk and sit helps to reduce pressure on the spine. This practice not only decreases the amount of wear on spinal joints but also decreases pain. This is great for pain management for cervical degenerative disc disease.

Treatments for Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease

Surgical treatments can often be avoided if non-invasive treatments are applied. Traditional pain management techniques include:

  • Prescription or OTC pain medications
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage, acupuncture, acupressure

Regenerative Medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, is a cutting-edge treatment offering potential to relieve pain from cervical degenerative disc disease.  

Patients who have recently developed CDDD symptoms, as well as those who’ve been living with the painful condition for many years, may benefit from safe, non-invasive stem cell treatment. Studies have shown that patients receiving stem cell therapy reported:

  • Fewer muscle spasms
  • Improved strength and mobility
  • A decrease in chronic pain levels
  • Less tingling, weakness, and numbness in extremities

Regenerative medicine may also help improve other orthopedic conditions such as sport’s injuries, osteoarthritis, and musculoskeletal injuries

Stem cell therapy is still considered experimental, and results are not guaranteed. However, it is a safe and minimally invasive treatment that could help CDDD patients manage their symptoms to help live a fuller, more active life free from chronic pain. If you are interested in learning more, contact us today and speak with a care coordinator.

Results for Stem Cell Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease

Results for Stem Cell Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is one of the leading causes of neck and low back pain in adults. This medical condition results in many symptoms. It is caused by wear and tear on the spinal discs. In this article, we are going to talk about Stem Cell treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease.

Aside from back and neck aches, degenerative disc disease can result in: 

  • Numbness
  • Hot or shooting pains
  • Weakness 
  • A “giving out” sensation
  • Muscle spasms and tension
  • And more

The most common symptom of this condition is constant and low-level pain. Chronic pain can make it difficult to live a normal life. Because of the discomfort that comes from degenerative disc disease, researchers are looking for innovative treatments to help patients live more comfortably.  

Recent Phase III Trial Results for Stem Cell Therapies 

A recent randomized Phase III trial has shown that stem cell injections can help patients with degenerative disc disease. According to the study, a single injection provided long-term relief of back pain. The study was conducted using stem cell products from Mesoblast Limited, an Australian regenerative medicine provider.

Representatives from the company hope to meet with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to speed up the approval of their product. The product in question is known as “remestemcel-L.” The company has been developing this stem cell product for several years.

Like many stem cell treatments, the product is made using bone marrow to harvest mesenchymal stem cells. Those cells are then injected into patients’ bodies to reduce inflammation. The product inhibits the development of certain inflammatory substances. Decreased inflammation reduces the patient’s pain.

According to the trial report, sixty percent of the injected patients reported little to no pain after a year. After two years, 54% reported minimal or no discomfort. The injections provided the most pain relief for patients who were in the early stages of the disease.  

Reduced Use of Opioids  

Studies like the one discussed above have given many patients and medical professionals confidence in the potential of stem cells. In the study by Mesoblast Limited, more than 400 volunteers participated. Many of the patients who experienced pain relief decreased their use of opioids. Across the study group, opioid use declined by 40%.

Patients in the control group who received a saline injection actually increased their use of opioids. Because of this, the company hopes that the FDA will fast-track the approval of remestemcel-L as a standard treatment for degenerative disc disease.

Future studies will be necessary to determine the full potential of stem cell therapies. Still, many patients have experienced significant improvements in their health and wellbeing by using stem cell therapies. If you are interested in using stem cell treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease contact a care coordinator today to learn more!

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