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!