The human spine is made up of 33 vertebrae. Four vertebrae are located in the coccygeal region, 12 are located in the thoracic section, seven are located in the cervical region, and five are located in the lumbar region. Between each of these vertebrae, there is a soft and compressible material called spinal discs. These discs are responsible for flexibility in the spine. Without them, people would not be able to move, twist, flex, or bend. They also act as a shock absorber for the bones, preventing potential wear and tear.
When there is an injury to the back or spine, people can sometimes experience degenerative disc disease. When an injury occurs, this could cause the discs to lose fluid, thus taking away the many features of the spine. Losing spinal fluid can shrink the discs, making impact harder on the vertebrae. The injury can also be responsible for any cracks or tears on the outside of the disc, which could force the disc out and cause the disc to break or bulge.
Degenerative Disc Disease can be detected in a number of ways. A spine surgeon like Dr. Khurana would check for symptoms such as neck pain, reduced range of motion, slower reflexes, tenderness near the affected area, and reduced strength in the arms or legs. An MRI or an X-ray will be performed if there was a recent injury, or if your doctor suspects there could be a disease, tumor or an infection.
If Degenerative Disc Disease is confirmed in the patient, smaller steps are taken first such as icing or heating the affected area, taking ibuprofen, prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs, or taking stronger medication if needed. If more serious symptoms appear, such as osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, or herniated discs, then more aggressive treatments may be used.
It is imperative the patient exercises extreme caution if diagnosed. While conservative treatment may be available in less serious circumstances, a substantial amount of time should be allowed to let the spine heal fully. There is no timetable given for recovery, but this could depend on the type of recovery performed by the doctor and the patient. The disease is treated on a case-by-case basis, and if surgery is necessary, minimally invasive options are available. In many cases, physical therapy is required for a full recovery, and can be completed in as little as a few weeks.
If you would like to learn more about Degenerative Disc Disease, contact spine surgeon Dr. Khurana and the team at LA Spine Group. He will make will fully explain any steps for treatment and diagnosis. Call today at 310.321.4333 to schedule an appointment or to request more information. You can also request a reservation on our website.