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This is an age related condition when the vertebral disc between two adjacent vertebra (Spinal bone) undergoes wear & tear leading to back pain or lower limb pain

What causes the Pain ?

The vertebral disc acts as a shock absorber for the spinal column. It also increase the flexibility of the spine. Once the disc loses its structural integrity the disc bulges causing compression on nerve root leading to pain in the back or the lower limb. In severe cases it may lead to numbness and loss of function. In long standing cases the disc space narrows putting stress on the facet joint (Joint between adjacent vertebrae) leading to wear& tear of the facet joint thus causing pain & decrease flexibility.

2. Symptoms of disc degeneration are:

• Pain in the low back with or without radiation to lower limb
• Numbness of the lower limb with or without loss of muscle strength
• Decrease flexibility of spine with or without deformity
• Bowel & Bladder control issues
• If the degeneration is in the neck the pain & numbness or loss of function is in the upper limb.
• Gait Problems with symptoms like unable to grip slipper or feeling of walking on cotton

3. How is degenerate disc diagnosed?

• Clinical Examination done to determine the neurological loss and site of pain.
• Radiological Examination done to confirm the level of involvement.
• X-Ray gives an idea of the bone changes MRI gives a clear picture with regards to disc and nerve root compression,
• Other special investigation like contrast CT may he suggested under special circumstances.

4. What is the treatment?

• Treatment for degenerative disc disease include physical therapy, exercise , medication, losing weight and if required, surgery. Apart from medicines and physiotherapy.
• Medications include pain relief medicines, short term steroids and muscle relaxers.
• Physiotherapist use physiotherapy in form of (IFT) Interfertial therapy in relieving pain. Physio will also advise posture and exercise.
• Apart from medications and physiotherapy, minimal invasiver procedures like injections of steroids / local anesthesia may be advised for therapeutic / diagnostic intervention respectively .
• If not amenable to above management surgery may be advised by doctor for pain relief
• Surgical Management is also indicated as first line of management when there is loss of function.
• Early diagnosis & Management in the above scenario gives better outcome , consult your doctor for the same.

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