Degenerative Disc Disease

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Degenerative disc disease is characterized by the wearing down of the spinal discs, which are rubbery cushions located between the vertebrae (bones in the spinal column). Spinal discs act as shock absorbers and support movement and flexibility. Spinal discs degenerate over time and the process is a normal part of aging.

When the cushions wear away, the bones can start to rub together, causing pain and other problems, such as:

  • Adult scoliosis, characterized by a curving of the spine.
  • Herniated disc, also called a bulged, slipped, or ruptured disc.
  • Spinal stenosis, when the spaces around the spine narrow.
  • Spondylolisthesis, when vertebrae move in and out of place.
Doctor-explaining-degenerative-disc-disease-with-an-anatomical-model-of-the-spine
Digital-illustration-of-degenerative-disc-disease

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease


The most common symptoms of degenerative disc disease are neck pain and back pain that may:

  • Be intermittent, lasting for weeks or months at a time.
  • Lead to numbness or tingling in the arms or legs.
  • Radiate down the buttocks and lower back.
  • Worsen with sitting, bending, or lifting.

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease


It’s normal for spinal discs to wear down as part of aging. Disc degeneration is especially common after age 40. However, not everyone experiences pain during this process.

The condition may cause pain if the spinal discs:

  • Dry out, or lose the water contained at the core of the discs. With age, the core naturally loses some water, causing the discs to get thinner and lose part of their shock absorption capabilities.
  • Tear or crack, as a result of minor injuries. These tears often occur near nerves and may cause pain. If the outer wall of the spinal disc cracks open, the disc may bulge out of place and lead to a herniated disc.
Doctor-examining-patient-with-degenerative-disc-disease

Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease


At Westcare Clinics, patients seeking treatment for degenerative disc disease may benefit from pain management techniques, joint and soft tissue injections, and occupational medicine. The right treatment option will depend on the patient’s unique condition and pain level.

Patients diagnosed with degenerative disc disease may be introduced to pain management techniques, such as cold and heat therapy, physical therapy, therapeutic massage, gentle exercise, biofeedback, mind-body techniques, music therapy, and occupational therapy to help manage their symptoms. Each patient will receive personalized recommendations from their doctor for managing pain.

Westcare Clinics also offers joint and soft tissue injections. Depending on the patient’s condition, joint and soft tissue injections may include epidural injections (interlaminar and transforaminal), piriformis injection, sacroiliac joint injections, and trigger point injections. The type of soft tissue injection best for the patient will depend on the unique characteristics of their condition.

Westcare Clinics is proud to offer occupational medicine for patients who need help adjusting to the demands of the workplace. Our team of healthcare practitioners is also available to train employers seeking to adapt the workplace and worker responsibilities according to the physical limitations of an employee diagnosed with degenerative disc disease.

Advanced Treatment


Patients suffering from degenerative disc disease may need further treatment to manage pain and treat their condition. Advanced treatment options may include chiropractic adjustment, surgery, physical therapy, acupuncture, and other forms of rehabilitation. The Westcare Clinics team is happy to answer any questions patients may have about obtaining advanced treatment for degenerative disc disease.

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