Categories: Spine Surgery

All about Degenerative Spine Disorder

Degenerative spine disorder or Degenerative disc disease is not a disease, but a natural occurrence which comes with aging of the spinal disc. Spine (Vertebrae) is made up of interlock bones that are cushioned by a soft disc that absorbs shocks of the spine. With the shock-absorbing quality of the spine, we are allowed to twist, bend, and flex our back and neck. As age increases, these disks got some changes and degenerates (breaks down). This condition leads to pain in the neck and lower back. Degenerative spine disorder is very common. In degenerative spine disorder, there may be numbness, weakness, and pain radiates to leg.

It has been seen that Degenerative Spine Disorder leads to few other spinal conditions such as:

  • Osteoarthritis in the spine
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Herniated disk
  • Spondylolisthesis

Symptoms:

As we get older, the disk of spines gets older and weakens too. But it is not applicable to everyone to have pain and symptoms of a degenerative spine disorder. And if you have a pain it does not increase as your age increases. It can be mild but lasts for more than three-four months, but in some cases, it becomes worse, that a patient is not able to move an inch and they get bedridden. These severe symptoms take time to get normal but, in some cases, it may get mild but runs throughout life. Inflammation and muscle spasm are accompanied by pain. Initially, the symptoms start with the spine, but it may affect other parts too. It can turn into osteoarthritis with pain and stiffness in the back.

Degenerative Disk Disease & Inflammation:

If the damage is in the lower back or lumbar spine part, the discomfort spreads via buttocks and thighs to one or both legs/feet and feeling of numbness and tingling in one or both legs. Inflammation in the lower back causes sciatica. If the damage in the neck or cervical spine, the pain spreads to the arm, shoulder, and hand. Some people have pain in the neck only. An individual may experience a flare-up of intense pain.

Degenerative Disk Disease & Muscle Spasm:

Usually, in the neck or lower back, degenerative disk disease can also cause muscle spasm. This disease makes the spine less stable than a regular spine as the spinal bones are worn down. Muscle spasm is a reflex that occurs as the body is trying to stabilize the spine. In some cases, muscle spasm leads to severe pain.

Prevention:

As we know that aging is a prime factor of degenerative spine disorder, which cannot be controlled at all. But few prescribed exercises, lifestyle modification, and good nutrients can help to prevent painful and disabling symptoms.

  1. Exercises improve blood flow in the muscles of the body that supplies healing nutrients and oxygen. Exercises promote the release of a substance endorphins produced in the brain to reduce pain. People with degenerative spine disorder must do few prescribed exercises for at least 30 minutes daily.
  2. Incorporation of few lifestyle modifications can contribute to a healthier back and faster healing. Such as:
  • Improving posture
  • Changing positions frequently, especially if work involves a lot of sitting
  • Learning and using correct lifting techniques
  • Sleeping on a supportive mattress
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight by good nutrition and exercise(Mild activity (exercise) such as walking, biking, and swimming)
  • Staying well hydrated
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Limited bed rest to take the pressure off the spine
  • Apply cold and/or hot packs
  • One can try wearing a brace for support

Treatment:

Degenerative Spine Disorder treatment is focused on the relief of existing inflammation and pain. The doctor may suggest the following according to the patient.

  1. Few treatments can be applied for Degenerative Spine Disorder:
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage Therapy
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Physical Therapy
  1. For conservative therapy, medication can be used:
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Pain relievers
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Spinal injections
  • Antidepressants
  • Sleep aids
  1. Surgery can be an option in severe cases:
  • Stabilization surgery/spinal fusion
  • Decompression Surgery
  • Stem Cell Therapy

Dr. Manaranjan Jena, Consultant – Neurosurgery | Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Barasat

Narayana Health

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