The Cause & Treatment of Desiccated Discs
Disc Desiccation Is a Painful Experience
Disc desiccation is a degenerative condition that can be very painful. It is the earliest sign of a more severe degeneration and should not be overlooked. If you find the right way to handle it in time, you will get the problem under control and be able to avoid more serious back problems or surgery. On this page, you will find some useful information on causes and treatment options.
Between every two vertebrae (the bones of your spinal column) there is a flat disc that protects your spine by acting as a cushion and shock absorber. It is made of a tough annulus fibrosis surrounding the jelly-like nucleus pulposus. Desiccation is the result of the loss of fluid in the discs, and this is in fact the basis for the condition's name: The term "disc desiccation" comes from the Greek word "diskos" (for disc) and the Latin word "desiccare" (to dry up).
Its main cause is the natural aging process. As we get older, it is only normal that a part of the fluid in our discs goes away. Most people experience some degree of desiccation during their lifetime. Many sufferers are 60 years of age and older.
Other causes include trauma or repeated strain or injury to the back. These causes are typically at fault when the condition occurs to younger people.
The symptoms of disc desiccation can appear gradually, or they can appear suddenly after an injury. They include:
- Pain caused by movement
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness
- Changes in reflexes
You can do a number of things to alleviate the pain related to disc desiccation. Talk to your doctor about treatment options, including those listed below. Some of these methods, however, do not produce permanent or lasting results.
- Massage therapy—Relaxing the muscles concerned can take pressure away from the affected area.
- Physiotherapy—Regularly doing targeted exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your spine can help alleviate pain. Ice and heat therapies can also be beneficial.
- Medication—Pain killers and relaxants provide at least some temporary relief. However, it is essential to take these medications only under the supervision of your physician.
- Weight Loss—If you are overweight there is a good chance that weight loss could relieve pressure on the affected disc. Follow a healthy diet and daily exercise regimen, but take care to stay away from high-impact activities that could further strain your back.
- Chiropractic Care—Many people claim that a visit to a chiropractor is an essential part of any back pain treatment. Chiropractors help align your back through natural methods, releasing muscles and evening pressure by fixing your posture.
- Surgery—This method should only be used if you experience severe pain and have already tried all other treatments. Seek multiple medical opinions before choosing an operation. This procedure involves a spinal fusion, in which the disc is removed (and sometimes an artificial one is inserted) and the adjacent vertebrae are joined with screws and rods. This can be highly successful in eliminating pain, but, again, should only be used as a last resort.
The First Step
The first step to take if you suspect disc desiccation is to see a doctor. In the meantime, avoid any activity that may strain your spine.
Disc degeneration is a normal part of aging, so as you get older, even if you do not suffer from disc desiccation, ask your doctor about stretches and exercises you can do to help strengthen the muscles that support your back.