Associated with age-related wear and tear, degenerative disc disease (DDD) results in structural changes to the spongy discs that cushion the spine. These disc changes can sometimes be coupled with related conditions such as disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and osteoarthritis. Recognizing the signs of DDD early can increase the odds of seeing positive results from treatments. Board-certified back doctors in Los Angeles discuss a few of these common warning signs.
1. You Experience Pain During Certain Activities
Disc-related pain tends to be triggered by specific motions or movements. People with DDD often experience discomfort while lifting, reaching, bending, or twisting.
2. You Have Recurring Episodes of Pain
DDD-related pain is rarely constant. Patients often have bouts of lower back or radiating pain that can last for a few days or several weeks at a time before the discomfort gets back to a manageable level.
3. Your Pain Subsides When Moving
Some people with DDD actually feel better when walking or moving around rather than when sitting or standing in stationary positions. This is likely due to the added muscle strain that can result from remaining in one position for too long.
4. Your Pain Varies in Intensity
Pain from degenerative disc disease may not have any clear rhyme or reason. Some patients will have little or no pain, while others will experience fluctuations where some episodes are near-debilitating and others tolerable.
5. You Feel Better When Resting or Reclining
Relief from DDD is sometimes felt when in a resting or reclining position, likely due to a reduction in pressure on the joints and muscles. Sleeping with a pillow under the knees may place the spine in a more comfortable alignment.
Chronic, debilitating pain from degenerative disc disease is rare, as is the need for spine surgery. Pain episodes often experienced due to DDD may be related to micro-motions within the affected discs that can trigger muscle spasms. Treatment usually involves a combination of anti-inflammatory and pain management medications, activity modifications, and physical therapy.
For information on epidural steroid injections for back pain and other non-surgical treatments for spine-related conditions, reach out to Dr. Hyun Bae and his team at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Take the first steps to enjoying a pain-free life by calling 310-828-7757 today.