Approximately 40% of low back pain occurs due to a problem in the intervertebral disc. This is called degenerative disc disease, although, it is not really a disease in the true sense of the word.
Normally, the intervertebral disc is composed of 80% water, and 20% proteins and collagen. In middle-age, this percentage starts to change and water is gradually lost from some of the disks in the low back. As a result, lumbar discs may start to degenerate and compress. This may end up as a disc bulge or eventually result in a tear in the disk with subsequent pain.
The best way to think of a spinal disc is with the analogy of a jelly doughnut. In the central part of the doughnut, the jelly is softer and in the case of the disk, does not sense any pain. This area is called the nucleus pulposus. There are no nerves inside this portion of the disk.
The outer part of the donut is harder and that’s the same with the intervertebral disc. This is called the annulus fibrosis, and it does have nerve endings. That means if it tears, it can sense pain.
Degenerative disc disease can be seen on an MRI, and may also be seen as decreased disk space on an x-ray. The interesting thing about it is even if the patient has findings on imaging studies, most of the time there is no associated back pain. This means just because the degenerative disc disease is present, it may not be painful at all. Or it may cause daily disabling pain. Most of the time it’s something in between, with an individual having mild to moderate pain on a regular basis.
Treatment options for symptomatic degenerative disc disease at Gershon Pain Specialists is frequently successful and can obviate the need for surgery.
Some options may include medication management with anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, medical weight loss and medical fitness, or TENS units.
When it comes to interventional procedures, patients may benefit from an injection into the disk with the steroid, facet blocks, medial branch blocks, epidural steroid injection’s and trigger point injections.
Most insurance is accepted at our practice. Call today for the best back pain relief in Virginia Beach!