Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a condition that refers to the gradual deterioration of the discs between the vertebrae of the spine. The discs are rubbery cushions that act as shock absorbers and provide flexibility to the spine. With age and wear and tear, these discs can degenerate, leading to various symptoms and changes in the spine. In this article, we will discuss the things to avoid with degenerative disc disease.
The primary cause of degenerative disc disease is the natural aging process. As we age, the discs lose their water content and become less flexible, resulting in decreased disc height and integrity. This degeneration can also be influenced by factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and repetitive stress on the spine.
The common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include back pain, neck pain, and radiating pain or numbness that can extend into the arms or legs. The pain may worsen with activities like bending, twisting, or sitting for prolonged periods. In some cases, the degenerated disc may impinge on nearby nerves, causing additional symptoms such as weakness or tingling sensations in the affected areas.
While degenerative disc disease is a natural part of the aging process, not everyone with disc degeneration experiences symptoms. The severity of symptoms can vary widely among individuals. Diagnosis of degenerative disc disease typically involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, or CT scans to assess the condition of the discs and rule out other possible causes of pain.
Who Do You See if You Think You Have Degenerative Disc Disease?
If you suspect that you have degenerative disc disease (DDD), it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in spine conditions. Here are some healthcare providers you can consider seeing for an evaluation and diagnosis:
Primary Care Physician (PCP): Start by scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician. They can assess your symptoms, perform a physical examination, and provide initial guidance. They may also refer you to a specialist for further evaluation if needed.
Orthopedic Surgeon: An orthopedic surgeon specializes in the musculoskeletal system, including conditions related to the spine. They can evaluate your symptoms, order appropriate diagnostic tests, and discuss treatment options ranging from conservative approaches to surgical interventions.
Neurologist: Neurologists are medical doctors who specialize in conditions related to the nervous system, including spine-related issues. They can evaluate your symptoms, perform neurological examinations, and order imaging tests to help diagnose degenerative disc disease. They can also provide recommendations for treatment and management.
Spine Specialist: A spine specialist, such as a physiatrist or a spine surgeon, focuses specifically on spine-related conditions. They have expertise in evaluating and treating degenerative disc disease. They can provide a comprehensive evaluation, recommend appropriate diagnostic tests, and develop a tailored treatment plan based on your specific needs.
Physical Therapist: Physical therapists can play a crucial role in managing degenerative disc disease. They can assess your condition, develop an exercise program to strengthen the muscles supporting your spine, and provide guidance on proper body mechanics and posture.
It is important to note that the availability of these specialists may vary depending on your location and healthcare system. In some cases, your primary care physician may provide sufficient guidance and refer you to the appropriate specialist if necessary. Seeking professional medical advice is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and to develop an effective treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.
Things to Avoid with Degenerative Disc Disease
When living with degenerative disc disease, it is important to be mindful of certain activities and habits that can worsen your symptoms or potentially harm your spine.
Firstly, heavy lifting should be avoided as it places excessive strain on your discs. If lifting is necessary, remember to use proper techniques and ask for assistance when needed.
Prolonged sitting or standing should also be minimized, as both positions can place stress on your discs. Instead, try to alternate between sitting and standing and incorporate short breaks or walks throughout the day.
High-impact activities such as running, jumping, or contact sports should be avoided, as they can further deteriorate your discs. Opt for low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling, which are gentler on your spine. Repetitive activities such as bending, twisting, or lifting should be minimized or balanced with frequent breaks to reduce strain on your discs. A sedentary lifestyle weakens the supporting muscles of your spine, so engage in regular physical activity and exercises that promote spinal health.
Maintaining good posture is crucial; avoid slouching or hunching over, especially during extended periods of sitting or standing. Use ergonomic chairs or supportive cushions to help maintain proper alignment.
Smoking is detrimental to your spinal health, so it is advisable to quit smoking or avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
Excess body weight adds strain to your spine and accelerates disc degeneration, so maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise is essential.
Emotional stress and poor sleep can increase muscle tension and exacerbate pain associated with degenerative disc disease, so prioritize stress management techniques and ensure you get enough restful sleep.
It is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific condition.
What are Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease?
Traditional treatment options for degenerative disc disease aim to manage pain, improve function, and prevent further deterioration. Conservative measures include physical therapy, pain medications, hot or cold therapy, and lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a healthy weight and adopting proper body mechanics. In more severe cases, when conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgical interventions such as spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement may be considered.
It’s important to note that degenerative disc disease is a chronic condition, and while traditional treatment can help manage symptoms, it may not reverse the underlying degeneration.
Regenerative Medicine for Degenerative Disc Disease
Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy is a regenerative medicine approach that has gained attention for its potential in treating degenerative disc disease (DDD). MSCs are a type of adult stem cell that can differentiate into various cell types, including those found in intervertebral discs. These cells are administered to the targeted disc(s) to promote regeneration and repair.
Clinical studies and preliminary research on MSC therapy for DDD have shown promising results. Some potential benefits observed include decreased pain, improved disc hydration, increased disc height, and enhanced structural integrity. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional who specializes in regenerative medicine or spine conditions to discuss the potential benefits, risks, and availability of MSC therapy for degenerative disc disease. They can evaluate your specific case, and provide personalized recommendations based on your individual needs. To learn more about things to avoid with Degenerative Disc Disease, contact us today at Stemedix!
Currently, it’s estimated that over 40% of adults over the age of 40 have at least one degenerative disc in their vertebrae; by age 80, the percentage afflicted with this condition is estimated to be over 80%. Characterized by erosion of the rubber-like discs between each vertebra of the spine, degenerative disc degeneration often results in chronic and debilitating back and neck pain. The condition is commonly accompanied by prolonged numbness in the arms and legs and pain that tends to radiate downward through the lower back and buttocks.
Adding to the seriousness of degenerative disc disease is the fact that chronic back pain continues to be a significant public health issue and among the leading causes of lost days of work and one of the most widely reported symptoms contributing to a diminished quality of life. In fact, a study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center found that the total cost of back pain (when factoring in medical costs, lost days of work, and the condition’s impact on wages) amounts to a staggering $560 to $635 billion annually.
Historically, chronic cases of degenerative disc disease required surgery. Unfortunately, surgical treatment of this condition not only demonstrated an inability to completely correct the conditions but also produced additional biomechanical problems and accelerated degeneration of nearby discs and portions of the spine.
Considering this, researchers began to investigate the potential use of autologous and allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as options for treating degenerative disc disease.
In this review, Noriega et al. provide follow-up findings as a result of their long-term randomized controlled trial using allogeneic bone marrow-derived MSCs. As part of this trial, participants in the treatment group received an intradiscal injection of healthy allogeneic bone marrow MSCs while those in the control group received sham infiltration in the paravertebral musculature.
Outcomes of this trial were followed and recorded for one year after injection and subsequently followed up on 3.5 years afterward as part of this review.
As part of the original study and in addition to confirming the feasibility and safety of degenerative disc treatment with injection of MSCs, Noriega et al. found that patients treated with MSCs demonstrated rapid and significant improvements in algo functional indices when compared to those in the control group.
Examining outcomes nearly 3.5 years after original interventions, the authors reported no serious adverse effects of the investigation for either the treatment or control group. Findings also indicated that the improvements in both pain relief and disability improvement continued to increase in those receiving MSC injections while control patients did not show any significant healing after 3.5 years of receiving the intervention.
Of particular interest, the authors noted that patients treated with MSCs showed two distinct patterns – one subpopulation that showed a significant response to this treatment (responders) and another subpopulation that demonstrated no significant difference from patients in the control group (non-responders).
Noriega et al. also reported that observed structural changes in those receiving MSC injections occurring after year one of treatment were maintained over the period of 3.5 years while those in the control group continued to show a decrease in grading used to measure results of the trial.
The authors conclude that these long-term outcomes support the use of MSCs as a valid alternative for managing degenerative disc disease. Findings indicate that MSC injection as a treatment for degenerative disc disease provides effective and durable pain relief and objective improvements in disc degeneration.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 contactstemedix today and speak with a care coordinator.
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:
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 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!
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:
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.
This website and its contents are not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, or prevent any disease. Stemedix, Inc. shall not be held liable for the medical claims made by patient testimonials or videos. They are not to be viewed as a guarantee for each individual. The efficacy for some products presented have not been confirmed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
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