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Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative Disc Treatments for Lower Back Pain
As we grow older, our bodies undergo certain changes. Some of these changes are degenerative (i.e. slow wear and tear). The discs in the spinal column are no different. The intervertebral discs are sacs that contain a jelly like substance. Their function is to act as shock absorbers within the spine. This ensures that the spine is not damaged in motion or while working.
When we are born, the jelly like fluid within the intervertebral discs consists of 80% water. The jelly like fluid also contains substances such as protein and collagen. The water within the disc is found in the center of the disc. This combination of proteins, collagen and water give the fluid a spongy feeling allowing it to function as an effective shock absorber.
Degenerative Disc Disease: Water Volume
However, with age come several changes. The volume of water within the discs reduces significantly from its original 80%. This loss in water results in several structural changes in the proteins and collagen contained in the discs. These changes result in the vertebral disc losing its spongy properties and becoming more rigid. The disc becomes flat reducing the space between the vertebrae.
The result of the reduction of space between the vertebrae is insufficient for shock absorption, the nerves, blood vessels, the ligaments, tendons and the bones themselves are therefore likely to be damaged. People suffering from degenerative disc disease suffer a great deal of pain in the back as a result of the effects of inflammation or mechanical damage. Pain as a result of inflammation occurs as a result of chemical irritation to nerve endings within the area of damage.
Herniated discs are common occurrences in
cases of degenerative disc diseases.
These occur when a tear occurs in the compressed disc. The tear results in fluid from within the disc seeping out. The disc thus bulges out in the direction of the tear. This results in compression of nerve roots. The herniated disc may also exert pressure resulting in damage to the spinal cord if the bulge is in the direction of the spinal canal. Radiculitis occurs. This is pain that radiates from the nerves to other parts of the body.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Learn more about the causes and treatments of degenerative disc disease.
Article published February 17th, 2011
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