There are two key principles regarding Degenerative Disc Disease:Spinal discs do NOT have a direct blood supply. There are no arteries to transfer oxygen and nutrients to the spinal discs. It follows then, that these hungry discs must seek nourishment elsewhere. Normal, healthy discs are sustained by the perpetual recycling of disc fluid generated by with spinal joint movement. It draws-in fluid rich in oxygen and nutrients, and expels the waste. The internal disc pressure (intradiscal pressure) significantly influences this process.
The discs of the spine are under continuous pressure. The spinal discs maintain flexibility in the spine by acting as shock absorbers in a car. While shock absorbers maintain resistance against the weight and movement of the car, spinal discs maintain pressure on vertebra to ensure adequate distance between each one. Unfortunately, this process every day, making it difficult for the body to “suck” in new, healthy disc fluid with its vital oxygen and nutrients.These two factors make it difficult for the body to maintain thick, plump, healthy discs, thusly, Degenerative Disc Disease is a common spinal disorder.
Degenerative Disc Disease: As the disc degenerates it shrinks (Disc Height Reduction) which causes it the nerves between them to become “sandwiched.”As its name implies, Degenerative Disc Disease is caused by the progressive degeneration of the intervertebral disc.Even the least strenuous physical activities can place undue strain on these discs. Over time, the spinal discs weaken, leading to what we now refer to as Degenerative Disc Disease.
It begins with an acute lack of oxygen and nutrients, resulting from extreme disc compression caused by dehydration. Bending, twisting, lifting, even sitting for prolonged periods can irritate the spinal discs and cause them to compress. Decreased hydration occurs when less fluid is pulled into the disc than is “pressed” out of the disc. Over time, the discs dehydrate and Disc Desiccation sets in. Doctors prescribe an MRI to accurately determine and diagnose a suspected case of Degenerative Disc Disease.Degenerative Disc Disease:: Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
The symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease can vary widely depending on location and severity. For the most part, the disc itself causes little to no pain, aside from minor stiffness and aches upon awakening. However, as the day progresses, the pain typically subsides.The most painful and debilitating symptom of Degenerative Disc Disease is direct nerve compression. This occurs when the spinal disc begins to narrow, which in turn, causes the foramen (space between nerves) to shrink, as well. This narrowing and shrinking—both elements of the degenerative process— are conditions known as Disc Height Reduction and Neural Foraminal Narrowing. The latter describes the bone-on-nerve friction which results in sharp pain, burning, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. Over time, the degenerative process can spread to the internal organs in proximity to these affected nerves. To summarize, the symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease do not originate in disc itself, but rather, the impact the degenerative process has on the surrounding nerves.