For many years, degenerate disc disease has not been an object of specific researches and has been considered one of the despairs occurring in the back or neck. The things changed in 1970 when Dr. Kirkadly-Willis made the first attempt to describe the nature of this disease, its symptoms, and possible causes. He stated that if a patient experienced the injury of his discs (which, on the contrary to muscles, could not repair themselves), they started to change passing three stages (Bajammal & Rerri n.p.). The first one relates to the dysfunction, which results in severe back pain. The next phase includes the instability in back area accompanied with the state of patient’s being prone to intermittent bouts. He concluded his report with the assertion that at the third stage, the body reset the segment and this lessened the back pain.
The symptoms of the degenerative disc disease are various and chiefly depend on the patient. The most frequent symptom of the disease is sharp pain in the area of back, which usually reaches the upper thighs and buttocks; however, it might not be experienced by certain category of patients. When diagnosing this disease, the physicians study the set of disorders in the spine that are usually caused by the damage of the disc; they affect all elements of the spine (White et al n.p.). According to the researches on the patients’ pain, the disease causes a burning pain or a pressure made upon different parts of the back and sometimes can even reach legs. The pain may occur as a result of a major injury; it could be the outcome of a sudden back pain that gradually progresses to more intensive and unsustainable forms. Sitting is considered to cause more pain since in such position, the disks are loaded with more weight. Twisting or bending can make the pain more severe while laying down changes the situation and relieves the pain. The patient can also run or walk for while in order to feel better. Another symptom is bulging disks. This symptom is widely spread among young and old people. In general, it does not constitute a reason to panic. Bulging disks are diagnosed in patients with or without back pain. Disk that bulges does not always signals about degenerative disc disease. However, it becomes serious when its bulging leads to the narrowing of the spinal channel.
Several reasons are believed to cause degenerative disc disease. Some of them are related to aging. For example, the lost of fluid that occurs over the years worsen the discs abilities to function as strong absorbers (Coon n.p.). As a result, they become less flexible and elastic. In addition, the fluid loss makes the distance between the vertebrae narrower and the disk thinner. Another cause for this disease is cracks or little tears in the layer of the disks. The materials, which are stored in the disks and resemble a jelly, might be forced out through the cracks or tears. As a result, the disks might divide into fragments, bulge, or break (Urban, & Robert n.p.). The above-described changes might happen to people, whose daily duties include heavy physical work, especially lifting. Moreover, people who suffer from obesity are also more likely to suffer from the symptoms of this disease due to the amount of weight that is to be carried by the discs (Coon n.p.). Moreover, those who smoke cigarettes are in the risk zone, as well as those who work in certain unhealthy conditions.
Researchers report that degenerate disc disease could also be caused by sudden injury made to the herniated disc. In addition, the pain and dysfunction of nerves could be caused by decrease of the vertebrae space and instability of spine. The latest leads to the creation of bony growth or so called bone spurs, which then pressure the spinal cord. Some studies also report that degenerative disc disease might be caused by the impact of several factors, that include but are not limited to genetic inclinations, inflammatory, and environmental and traumatic factors.
In case a person suffers from pain in the back, he or she should consult a doctor. Before the examination, the doctor investigates the medical history of the patient in order to determine his or her preconditions and backgrounds and discover previous symptoms. The physician might also conduct an interview regarding lifestyle and habits of a patient in order to determine whether they are the cause for the pain (Urban, & Robert n.p.). Next step is physical examinations, which reveal the source of pain and its causes, as well as discover any weakness in the muscles that could have ever existed. The tests include X-ray, CT scan, MRI scan, and discogram. Not all of them are ordered by the doctors. Depending on the results of the tests, the patient is then referred to neurosurgeon, orthopedist, or neurologist.
The treatment of generative discs disease is either non-surgical or surgical. Sometimes, aging people experience the pain in discs, which is caused by the changes in their positions within the human body. At the same time, since the reliance upon such sudden change is considered ineffective, the patients are recommended to apply for non-surgical treatment of the disease. Non-surgical treatment is the first stage. In case it is reported to be ineffective, the doctors suggest using surgery (Placide n.p.). Non-surgical care includes rest, medication, and therapy involving middle physical exercises, pain management, hydrotherapy, or chiropractic (Murray, & Yoshioka n.p.). First of all, the doctors recommend self-care, which refers to the control of the position of human body while standing, sitting, or moving. In addition, the patient might be required to make certain adjustments at the workplace in order to alleviate the negative impact of physical conditions upon his or her back. Reduction of the stress level is also considered a key cure. Deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and visualization might help patient ease the pain.