Degenerative disc disease symptoms are difficult to detail, since in most cases, there simply are none at all. DDD is not the problematic disorder often portrayed in the orthopedic community. It is merely another expression of aging in the spinal anatomy and is rarely more harmful than graying hair or wrinkles in the skin. We all get older, but the aging process is not inherently painful.
This article will examine why symptoms may occur in drastic cases of disc deterioration, but will also seek to debunk the myths which support the idea that normal disc desiccation is a painful event.
Most degenerative disc disease goes completely unnoticed, unless it is discovered when testing for a completely unrelated condition or when discovered in association with coincidental back pain complaints. Almost everyone has DDD to one extent or another.
When a person seeks a diagnosis for dorsopathy, imaging studies are often performed. The back pain industry views symptoms as mostly stemming from some structural abnormality, such as a disc or bone irregularity. This is ironic, since research has definitely shown almost no correlation between spinal abnormalities and painful conditions. The majority of people have something irregular in their spines, but might not have any pain. Other people have severe pain, but completely or near normal spinal anatomies.
When pain is present, doctors typically look for some structural reason to explain it. Despite the evidence that most chronic pain is not sourced from spinal aging, doctors generally ignore this fact and still diagnose DDD-related pain every day. DDD is a perfect scapegoat on which to blame symptoms, since it is found in almost every patient and is truly an old standby when no other apparent anatomical causation exists.
Disc degeneration may play a part in causing pain, but not directly. The spinal discs have no nerve endings themselves. However, disc deterioration can escalate the spinal arthritic processes and help encourage herniations. While these conditions are usually also both benign, some patients may suffer acute or chronic discomfort in particular circumstances.
Treatment for DDD is mostly symptomatic in nature and follows the accepted norms for virtually any other neck or back pain condition. Physical therapy, drugs and possibly chiropractic are all used, but none for these modalities will renew and revitalize the discs. So what is the point? Try asking your doctor this question and watch them squirm.
Degenerated disc surgery is sometimes recommended for particularly advanced cases of desiccation, but is rarely truly necessary. Spinal fusion and artificial disc replacement surgeries are used extensively on patients with unresolved back pain which is theorized to be related to disc abnormalities.
Many of these patients suffer extremely poor results from these procedures and continue to have pain. Others develop pain in a new area and very, very few are truly cured permanently.
Please, if you have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease as your primary source of discomfort, do some much needed research. Learn all you can about the condition and do not acquiesce to a particular form of therapy until you understand both the diagnosis and all the treatment options completely.
Be especially careful about even thinking about surgical treatment for DDD. The statistical results are abysmal and can create lasting and real disability due to surgical damage to otherwise healthy spinal tissues and structures. Remember, there is no cure for spinal aging and in most cases, there is no need for a cure.