Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Experts estimate that 80 percent of Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. While not everyone afflicted shows symptoms, lumbar degenerative disc disease can be extremely painful. If you’re experiencing pain in your lower back, you can benefit from professional diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Branko Skovrlj of NU-Spine in Edison, New Jersey addresses your lumbar degenerative disc disease for good. The facility has a state-of-the-art technology, and Dr. Skovrlj specializes in spine-related conditions. Call today for an appointment.
What Is Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease?
Lumbar degenerative disc disease is a chronic condition that results from osteoarthritis on your spine. It appears in the vertebral and intervertebral discs of the lower spine, otherwise known as the lumbar spine. As you age, these discs naturally dry out. Eventually, osteoarthritis develops, forming bone spurs on the vertebrae. The combination delivers chronic pain that needs medical attention.
Although similar to lumbar degenerative joint disease, degenerative disc disease is confined to the disc rather than the entire joint. While the condition can develop without symptoms, most people begin to notice pain or stiffness in their lower back after sitting for long periods of time or following strenuous activity.
If you’re suffering from lower back pain, it’s time to visit Dr. Branko Skovrlj at Spine Center in Edison, New Jersey. An experienced, dedicated spine specialist, Dr. Skovrlj offers a wide range of minimally-invasive surgery. He’s an expert in complicated surgeries as well, since he’s devoted his career to spinal medicine.
Why Does Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Happen?
As the name implies, lumbar degenerative disc disease is a degenerative condition, meaning your discs deteriorate to some extent over time. The discs undergo significant wear and tear over your lifetime, whether you’re very active or mostly sedentary. Although usually a result of age, the disc disease can also develop from repetitive motion occupations or hobbies. Other factors that contribute include:
- Shock or trauma to the lumbar discs can damage them to the point where they can’t recover naturally. Progressive deterioration causes increasing pain and discomfort.
- Wear and tear. An occupation or participation in a sport that puts a lot of stress on your lower back can prematurely wear down your lumbar discs.
- Dry discs. When you’re born, your discs are about 80 percent water. As you age, they dry out, and this process occurs more rapidly in some people.
Spinal discs aren’t made of bone. Instead, they’re pads that help cushion your spinal vertebrae. These discs have a tough outer layer, called the annulus fibrosus, and a soft inner jelly-like interior, called the nucleus pulposus. If the outer layer cracks or ruptures, the inner material seeps out, which weakens the disc and can impinge on a nearby nerve.
What Are the Symptoms of Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease?
While some people remain asymptomatic, symptoms can appear at any time. You may start to notice symptoms when you’re in your 30s and 40s. If you’re suffering from lumbar degenerative disc disease, you may experience a range of symptoms in varying degrees of severity, including:
- Pain that increases while sitting, as a seated position creates three times the pressure on your lumbar discs as standing
- Pain that increases while bending or twisting because repetitive movements during work or sports can aggravate your lumbar discs
- Weak, numb or tingling feeling in your legs
- A lack of balance or difficulty walking
- Bowel or bladder control problems
- Severe intermittent pain that can either be confined to the lower back or radiate out toward your extremities
- Achiness in your lower back and discomfort that doesn’t respond to massage or chiropractic treatments
When your back pain continues for more than a couple days, you need to get it checked out by an experienced spine doctor. The earlier you catch a degenerative disease, the better your chances of reducing its impact on your lifestyle and activities.
What’s the Best Treatment for Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease?
Initially, your general practitioner may prescribe a line of basic treatments for lower back pain to deal with the inflammation and discomfort you’re feeling. You may be directed to first try a combination of at-home and prescribed treatments, such as:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
- Muscle relaxers
- Steroids injections
- Physical therapy
If these treatments don’t relieve your pain sufficiently or if your lower back discomfort keeps returning, then it’s time to visit Dr. Skovrlj to find a more permanent solution. Depending on your condition’s severity, there are several treatment options to choose from, including the two most common surgical methods used to treat your condition:
- Laminectomy. Also referred to as decompression surgery, a laminectomy removes the back part of your vertebra that protects the spinal canal. This provides more space for nerves so there’s no pinching.
- Minimally Invasive Laminectomy. This minimally invasive spine surgery relieves the pressure caused by the bone spurs.
- Discectomy. A simple procedure that involves removing pieces of the errant disc that’s pressing either on your spinal cord or a nerve root.
- Spinal fusion. Your neurosurgeon fuses the lumbar vertebra, using bone or bone-like material as a graft to form one larger vertebra. This fusion reduces pain and discomfort generated by the friction of the two bones shifting against each other.
If you’re suffering from lower back pain, don’t hesitate to contact NU-Spine in Edison, NJ. Dr. Skovrlj is an expert in the field and can accurately diagnose your condition. Then he can offer lumbar degenerative disc disease treatment options. Contact the specialist today to set up your initial consultation.Page Updated on Jul 9, 2021 by Dr. Branko Skovrlj (Neurosurgeon / Spine surgeon) of NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute in New Jersey