Pain in your neck, midback and low back is often related to an abnormality of one or more intervertebral discs. A normal intervertebral disc lies between the bones of the spine acting as a shock absorber allowing for flexibility of the spinal column. When discs are healthy and normal, they maintain the space between the bones so the nerves have sufficient space to exit between the bones without being compressed or “pinched”. When they are not healthy, this function is often compromised resulting in reduced space between the bones and insufficient space for the nerves. Disc related pain may be a direct result of the disc or associated structures affected by the disc. Disc pain can be very painful, and can worsen with small movements or with increased pressure as in sneezing or coughing. Pain may extend or radiate into the arms or legs. It may be constant or intermittent, and may have a sudden onset or develop over time. Often, there is an abnormal disc that is manageable, until “that one last movement or event” worsens it, and causes severe relentless pain. You should pay attention to the pain, because it’s a warning of a problem. If you experience weakness in the arms or legs, or experience loss of control of the bowel or bladder, medical attention is needed.
Disc Pain Causes
The most common causes of true disc pain are bulges, herniations and tears, which may be the result of trauma or repetitive physical stress. Degenerative disc disease is also a common cause of pain. It refers to the degenerative process of an intervertebral disc which occurs over time. It results in less healthy, less hydrated, flatter discs which are prone to damage. Once a disc is compromised, it loses height and continues to deteriorate. Over time, it effects other structures of the spinal column. Unfortunately, once a disc is injured or compromised, it does not heal. It remains abnormal and continues to deteriorate with time and the physical demands of daily living….until now. The emerging field of Regenerative Medicine offers non-surgical treatment to help symptoms related to disc pain.
Traditional treatment for disc pain includes rest, anti-inflammatories and pain medication, along with chiropractic and/or physical therapy. If it cannot be managed with conservative treatment, then interventional procedures such as epidural steroid injections may be recommended. If it still persists, or if there is neurological involvement, then surgery may be considered.
Today there are non-surgical, minimally invasive treatment, and regenerative options available. Every condition must be evaluated on an individual bases to determine what treatment is best for each patient.