Degenerative Disc Disease in Atlanta, GA

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what is Degenerative Disc Disease?

As an age-related condition, degenerative disc disease develops if one or multiple discs that exist between the bones of the spinal cord break down or deteriorate. Most common in patients over the age of 60, this condition can lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms if not properly and promptly treated. Acting as shock absorbers, the discs in the spine allow us to move comfortably and have flexibility. As we age, these discs start to compress and decrease mobility, causing significant pain and inflammation in the back and/or neck. When you have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease or suspect you may have the condition, there are various treatment options available to help you experience pain relief. At Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta, Dr. Christopher Williams and his skilled orthopedic team work with you to create an optimal treatment plan to provide you with optimal results. Contact our Atlanta, GA facility to learn more and to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Williams.

what are symptoms of Degenerative Disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease may not always develop with symptoms. In some cases, the condition can lead to: 

  • Discomfort in the lower back, buttocks, and thighs
  • Discomfort in the neck or shoulders
  • Tingling and/or numbness
  • Pain that worsens with sitting, bending, lifting, or twisting
  • Weakness in the muscles of the legs and feet

what Causes degenerative Disc Disease?

As a result of the natural breakdown of tissue of the discs that lie in between the vertebrae of the spine, degenerative disc disease can occur as we age. When we get older, our bodies start to lose strength, integrity of muscle tissue, and ideal bone health. Therefore, degenerative disc disease is much more prevalent in older patients. When you suffer from this condition, durations of extreme pain in the back, neck, legs, or arms may occur and can continue for days or months. However, in some cases, everyday activities that include bending and/or twisting of the spine and injuries or trauma to the back can be a cause of degenerative disc disease. 

What Are the Risk Factors of Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease is a condition that usually results from aging-related wear and tear on the discs in the spine. Understanding these risk factors can help patients manage and potentially prevent the progression of degenerative disc disease by modifying lifestyle choices or through medical guidance. Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing the disease:

  • Age: As people get older, the water and protein content of the body's cartilage changes, leading to thinner, more fragile discs
  • Daily Activities and Occupational Hazards: Jobs or activities that involve physical labor, especially repetitive lifting, pulling, bending, or twisting, can put additional stress on the spine
  • Injury: Trauma to the spine can initiate the breakdown of discs, even if the full effects aren’t felt until years after the injury
  • Obesity: Excessive body weight puts more stress on the discs in the lower back
  • Smoking: Smoking decreases oxygen levels in the blood, leading to poor nourishment of the discs and contributing to the degeneration process
  • Genetics: A family history of degenerative disc disease or other disc-related disorders can increase susceptibility

How Is Degenerative Disc Disease Diagnosed?

Degenerative disc disease is diagnosed through a comprehensive evaluation that includes a physical examination and a detailed review of the patient's medical history and symptoms. Dr. Williams and his team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta may utilize imaging tests, such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), CT (Computed Tomography) scans, or X-rays, to identify the condition and assess the extent of disc deterioration. These diagnostic tools are crucial for visualizing the structure of the spine, the discs' condition, and ruling out other potential causes of pain and discomfort. This thorough diagnostic approach ensures that patients receive a precise diagnosis, allowing for the development of a targeted and effective treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.

what is the best treatment for degenerative disc disease?

After a disc is compromised, it is unable to be restored because there is little blood supply to the discs in the spine. However, there are still a variety of treatments available to help treat pain and manage your associated symptoms. These could include prescription-strength, anti-inflammatory medications, physical and occupational therapy, spinal mobilization, and heat/cold therapy. In more severe cases of degenerative disc disease, surgery may be your best option in order to improve your quality of life. 

Degenerative disc disease FAQs

Is degenerative disc disease really a disease?
Degenerative disc disease isn't actually a disease. It occurs due to normal wear and tear and aging. When the natural cushioning between the vertebrae in your spine gradually wears out, this can result in irritation and inflammation. You may feel pain, tingling, or numbness in certain areas.

Does degenerative disc always lead to pain?
Not always. Many people live with disc degeneration for many years without feeling any symptoms. In most cases, the pain is mild, but it can get worse when you're active or at rest. If you experience discomfort that prevents you from daily activities, it's time to contact Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta to learn about treatment options.

How is degenerative disc disease diagnosed?
Degenerative disc disease is diagnosed after an examination and a study of the patient's medical history. During this appointment, we may ask you about your symptoms, previous injuries, and normal level of physical activity. Our team may also administer certain tests to fully diagnose your symptoms.

Can lifestyle changes help manage degenerative disc disease? "
Yes, lifestyle modifications can play a crucial role in managing degenerative disc disease symptoms. Regular physical exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol can improve overall spinal health.

Is degenerative disc disease a normal part of aging?
While degenerative disc disease is more common as you age, it is not necessarily an inevitable part of the aging process. However, the discs in your spine do naturally lose flexibility and hydration over time, which can lead to degeneration in some individuals.

Are certain individuals more prone to developing degenerative disc disease?
Yes, several factors can increase the likelihood of developing this condition. These include genetic predisposition, certain occupations that require heavy lifting or physical labor, obesity, smoking, and a history of spinal injuries. Regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help mitigate these risks.

get help for Degenerative Disc disease

With many innovative treatment options available, you no longer have to suffer from the various effects of degenerative disc disease. Dr. Williams and our team at Interventional Orthopedics of Atlanta work with patients to help them receive the best possible results to live more comfortably. Learn more about your treatment options for degenerative disc disease by contacting our Atlanta facility to schedule your initial consultation. 

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