Discogenic back pain refers to lumbar disc pain that’s due to normal wear and tear of the discs that make up the lower portion of the spine. It’s interesting to note that some older adults with age-related degeneration experience no noticeable symptoms or minimal discomfort while other individuals experience frequent or chronic pain, often associated with movements like bending.
Causes of Discogenic Back Pain
The exact cause of discogenic lower back pain isn’t known. However, disc degeneration usually occurs later in life. The condition may also be affected by back conditions a person had earlier in life such as spinal stenosis. Genetics may also play a role, especially if patients have a history of back pain in their immediate family.
Symptoms of Discogenic Low Back Pain
Although symptoms vary from patient to patient, some of the most common include:
- Leg pain (from pinched nerves in the lower back)
- Pain while walking or climbing steps
- Pain associated with pressure within inter-vertebral discs (sitting, bending, leaning forward, hard sneezing or coughing)
Diagnosing Discogenic Back Pain
It can be difficult to diagnose discogenic back pain since symptoms are similar to many other forms of back pain. While an MRI or x-rays can help determine if it’s a degenerative condition that’s causing the pain, the primary test used to make a diagnosis is a discogram, involving the placement of a needle into the affected disc to inject a contrast dye. Doctors further make a diagnosis by determining if the pain from the injection matches the disc pain the patient was experiencing before the injection.
The good news is that discogenic back pain isn’t something that people have to live with as they age. In fact, many patients respond well to non-surgical treatments including anti-inflammatory medications, dietary changes, heating or cooling of the affected area or a doctor-approved exercise program. In some cases, however, back surgery may be needed to correct chronic and extreme pain.
To learn more about diagnosing and treating your discogenic back pain, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration and learn more about the various treatment options available to those with back pain. From conservative methods to minimally invasive surgery for the spine, we can help you on the road toward a pain-free lifestyle. Call us today at 310-828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation.