One of the leading sources of a stiff neck and aching back is not actually a “disease.” It's an inevitable function of the normal aging of the spine, kind of like gray hair and wrinkles.
At least 30% of people 30 to 50 years old have some degree of degenerative lumbar disc disease, although they may not be in pain.
Symptoms of Degenerative Lumbar Disc Disease
When the discs in the spine lose their cushioning, they degenerate and MAY cause persistent pain in the neck, mid back, low back, legs, neck or arms.
Pain may be caused by a bone spur impinging upon a nerve, arthritis of the joint, deconditioning, muscle inflexiblility and other factors.
Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease
Treatment for pain caused by degenerative disc disease is almost always conservative and can include medications and physical therapy. Identifying and treating contributing factors is very important.
It's also important to have an evaluation for pain in the neck, mid and low back in order to direct appropriate treatment to the problem. Generally, it's best to stay active but avoid heavy lifting, bending and twisting.
You can manage Degenerative Disc Disease
Conservative treatment for degenerative disc disease can include:
- Applications of heat or ice
- Weight loss
- Stretching exercises
- Exercises to strengthen the core
- Low-impact aerobic activities, such as walking, swimming or biking
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Cervical pillow
- Cervical collar
- Lumbar corset
- Epidural injection of steroids
You can manage pain and minimize its frequency or severity. Get into an appropriate exercise program. Choose a sport like golf that calls for rotating the back. Don't lift anything heavy.
At Northside Hospital Spine Center, our spine specialists take a conservative approach, avoiding back surgery whenever there's a non-invasive option. Spinal fusion surgery is the last resort. The latest option for lumbar degenerative disc disease is artificial disc replacement.