Your spinal column is composed of bones called vertebrae. You have seven of these vertebrae in your neck called the cervical spinal column, you have twelve of these vertebrae in your back called the thoracic column, and you have five of these vertebrae in your lower back called your lumbar. But don’t forget the tailbone called the coccyx and the sacrum which is within your hip bones and makes up the back of the pelvis.
Within these areas of the body, we have connective tissue that acts as a boundary between the spinal cord running through the bones and the body itself. Degeneration and compression problems can happen to these little pieces of tissue because of body aging or putting stress on your back. Degenerative disc disease is the name of this type of conditioning. It is a type of pain and stiffness that can cause your body to become vulnerable to the pain it is entrapped within.
Degeneration of the spinal discs can occur when the soft and gel-like inner layer of the vertebra are dehydrated from use overtime. Dehydration can cause the discs to lose their height and flexibility in range of motion. As this occurs, the bands within the spinal column can bulge, weaken, or tear. This can become painful and hard to do simple things such as walking up the stairs or cause you to hunch over and slouch.
There are many people with this disease. Former front man of the band Pantera Phil Anselmo underwent surgery to help him ease stiffness and pain caused by degenerative disc disease. Anselmo’s degeneration came from abusing his body with illegal substances and drinking alcohol excessively. But there are more than 3 million of these cases happening in the US each year. Many elderly people also suffer from degenerative discs.
While there is no cure for this disease, surgery options are recommended if the situation is a problem, such as bone spurs developing on the vertebra. Ice or heat therapy can be great for non-surgical treatments. But surgeries to alleviate this problem can include removing and replacing a thinning disc with an artificial disc or something man-made. Treatment can also include medication and physical therapy. But they also say that exercise, such as yoga to loosen the discs, are a great way to alleviate pain with this disease.
If you are experiencing muscle spasms, stiffness in your back, or a sensation of pins and needles, check with a local chiropractor or a pain management physician to see if you have degenerative disc disease. They will help you find a solution to your pain and help you get back to your healthy and active lifestyle. They might inject you within some steroids and anti-inflammation medication to relieve the swelling and the intensity of the pain. Other times if the situation is very critical, they may schedule procedures and surgeries that would be recommended based on your level of degeneration. But if the pain is mild or minimal, then you can use a heating pad and do some spinal stretches in the comfort of your own home.