Many people associate spine-related problems with older adults. Statistically, this age group does tend to be affected most by issues of this nature, but there are some spine-related conditions that can be equally troublesome for younger patients. One of these is called juvenile disc disorder (JDD). Here’s a closer look at what JDD is and how it’s often treated.
Juvenile disc disorder is similar to what’s commonly referred to as degenerative disc disease or age-related disc wear in older adults. The main difference is that younger patients, especially those in their teens, aren’t likely to have disc damage due to years of stress and wear. Instead, the disc damage is typically related to some type of physical trauma or injury.
JDD is often seen in patients in their late teens or early adult years, and it’s usually accelerated by trauma, which can also cause spinal discs to shift. It’s also possible to develop this condition as a result of a car accident or contact sports. There’s also evidence some younger adults may be genetically predisposed to disc wear. Disc wear or damage in younger patients often affects a part of the vertebra called the end plate. When this area weakens, a spinal disc may shift to fill the void in this area and form protrusions known as Schmorl’s nodes.
Another difference between disc wear in older adults and what can happen in younger patients is the extent of disc-related damage. In older patients, the damage is usually limited to a few spinal segments. However, in younger individuals, several lower back discs can be affected. Symptoms and signs related to JDD include:
Any type of back pain shouldn’t be considered normal, especially if it lingers or gets progressively worse, no matter how old someone is. If a doctor or Beverly Hills spine surgeon diagnoses a younger patient with juvenile disc disorder, treatment usually starts with nonsurgical remedies. Treatments of this nature typically involve:
Some patients also experience relief from manual manipulation, which may include massage therapy and similar hands-on techniques. Epidural steroid injections may also provide enough relief to boost the benefits related to physical therapy.
If conservative treatments for juvenile disc disorder fail to provide sufficient relief, surgery may be recommended. For some patients, this means a microdiscectomy, during which a portion of the damaged disc is removed. In some cases, a fusion procedure is necessary as well to maintain spinal stability.
Regardless of whether surgical or nonsurgical treatment is effective, younger patients may be advised to make appropriate lifestyle changes to minimize the risk of future disc issues. Modifying physical activities to ease spine-related stress, being mindful of posture, and staying within a healthy weight range are among the suggestions often made.
If your child has juvenile disc disorder and you’re interested in learning about minimally invasive back surgery and spinal fusion alternatives, Beverly Hills is home to The Spine Institute, where Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of expert surgeons are prepared to provide the assistance you and your child need. Call our office today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.