What Are The Stages Of Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a gradual process of wear tear that affects the spinal discs.
The Stages of Degenerative Disc Disease
There are four stages of degenerative disc disease:
In the first stage of degenerative disc disease the disc begins to lose fluid become less flexible. This causes tiny tears or fissures to develop in the outer layer of the disc known as the annulus fibrosus. As a result the disc may bulge (protrude) slightly but remains intact.
In this stage a person may not experience any symptoms or mild intermittent low back pain.
In stage 2 the disc degenerates further the fissures in the annulus fibrosus grow larger. This can cause the disc to herniate (rupture). As the disc loses height collapses it puts pressure on the nerves that run through the spinal cord.
Symptoms may include moderate to severe lower back pain leg pain numbness. The pain may be constant or occur only when sitting or standing for long periods.
In stage 3 the discs continue to degenerate causing more herniation collapse. This can lead to spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spinal canal. The narrowing of the canal puts pressure on the nerves that run through it causing pain numbness weakness in the legs.
In this stage treatments may include physical therapy pain medications epidural injections.
In the final stage of degenerative disc disease the disc loses its elasticity becomes stiff. The vertebrae might completely fuse together or may cause instability in the spine. Bone spurs may also develop as a result of the degeneration leading to further compression of the nerves.
Treatment may include surgery including spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement.
Degenerative disc disease is a progressive condition that affects the spinal discs. It is essential to diagnose the condition early as the earlier it is caught the more successful treatment is likely to be. Treatments vary depending on the stage of degenerative disc disease can include a combination of physical therapy medication surgical procedures.
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