Degenerative Disc Disease
What are Discs?
The intervertebral discs function as “shock absorbers” in the spine. They absorb the forces of movement and gravity, and provide the structural stability that allows us to stand and move as bipeds.
What Causes Disc Pain?
Unfortunately, years of bearing heavy loads leads to degeneration—a process that actually begins in our 20s and 30s and can progress inexorably. We can see the manifestations of this any time an adult has an X-ray or MRI of the spine—however, this does not necessarily mean a degenerated disc seen on an imaging study is the source of pain. This must be investigated further, using a test called a discogram.
What Should I Expect from a Discogram?
A diagnostic test to determine whether the disc is source of pain is called a Discogram. This is performed by placing a needle into the central portion of the disc and injecting a dye under pressure. If the disc is the source of pain, this maneuver will reproduce the typical pain, and often tears in the disc will be visualized on X-ray from the dye injection. Discograms are controversial tests, and not all spine doctors believe in their utility as they may have significant risks. New treatments, however, have been found to treat pain from degenerative disc disease, and clear diagnosis by Dr. Greenberg is imperative to take advantage of “cutting-edge” options.
Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease
If it is highly likely that the pain is coming from the discs, Dr. Greenberg can offer both traditional and non-traditional treatment alternatives to help avoid surgery and improve your function and quality of life. Sometimes, epidural steroids can helped with pain from degenerated discs. However, if this is not adequate, then there are exciting new treatment options becoming available that offer great promise to relieve suffering. These include regenerative injection treatments such as:
- Intradiscal PRP
- Intradiscal Stem Cells
- Disc sealants