Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a condition that affects millions of Americans. This condition causes the person to suffer chronic pain and limits their mobility and ability to perform many physical tasks, often preventing them from working or living a normal lifestyle.
Although there is no cure for the condition, fortunately there are treatments available to help relieve pain and help to restore the patient to a somewhat normal lifestyle.
For mild cases of DDD, some OTC (over the counter) medications like Ibuprofen and Naproxen sodium may help ease the symptoms of inflammation and pain. Coupled with light physical exercise to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and back in order to offer better support to the back many people can manage to maintain a somewhat normal lifestyle.
For more severe cases stronger prescription medications may be required. Opioid medications are designed to relieve moderate to severe pain that often results from DDD. Some patients at this level find it difficult to perform even light physical exertion but can often still perform stretching exercises which help maintain mobility.
That’s one of the interesting things about degenerative disc disease. Some patients have minimal symptoms, whereas others end up dealing with daily back pain that prevents the ability to work, play with the kids, etc.
Patients at this level of pain can also receive corticosteroid injections to help provide long term pain relief. Opioid pain relievers coupled with the corticosteroid injections provide the maximum available pain relief, often enabling the patient to perform physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and back to help support the spine. Strengthening the muscles helps to ease the strain on the intervertebral discs exerted upon them from gravity as well as physical exertion.
Injections can be placed into numerous areas. The first is an injection into the disc itself. Another option is an injection into the corresponding spinal facet joints, as they are often painful due to the ensuing arthritis.
When these methods fail to provide the desired relief more invasive techniques may be required. Surgery is often the last resort for patients that are struggling to deal with the pain and low quality of life associated with more severe cases of DDD. The most commonly performed back surgery to relieve the symptoms of DDD is a spinal fusion.
In this procedure the two vertebrae, one above, one below the degenerated disc are fused by placing a piece of bone, usually taken from the pelvis, between the vertebrae, separating them and restoring the normal spacing between them to relieve any nerve impingements. Although this procedure is frequently successful in relieving the pain, the downside is that it usually limits the mobility at that point of the spine.
Stem Cell therapy
The latest research in treating DDD involves stem cells. Stem cell technology tested in animals has shown that significant improvements to the intervertebral disc can be made when treated with stem cells. This procedure is not yet approved for use on humans in America but we are heading in that direction.
This procedure has shown to not only improve the affected disc and reduce pain but to also reverse the deterioration of the disc, in effect potentially curing DDD. This procedure utilizes stem cells harvested from the patients’ own femur or pelvis to prevent the body rejecting them. This new procedure is very promising and available at Colorado Clinic with the Double Board Certified Colorado pain management doctors.
Colorado Clinic has three Northern Colorado pain management centers including Boulder, Greeley and Loveland. Most insurance is accepted at the practices including PPO’s, Medicare, personal injury liens, workers compensation and more. For the top pain clinics in Boulder, Loveland and Greeley call the closest location!