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 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!