Sciatica Pain Degenerative disc disease

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Is Degenerative Disc Disease to Blame for Your Sciatica?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) can play a key role in causing your sciatica. Sciatica is caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve root, specifically L4, L5, S1 and S2, all of which are located in your lower spine. Degenerative disc disease is very much a problem of aging. Once you turn 50, disc space between vertebrae can decrease, tissues that once provided cushioning may harden, discs can burst (herniate) and bone spurs (osteophytes) can develop. Any one of these changes which are caused by degenerative disc disease can result in sciatic pain.

Understanding Degenerative Disc Disease as a Cause of Sciatica.

Everyone has a sciatica nerve, so when someone says, “I’ve got sciatica”, they are not alone. Your sciatica nerve is a key neuronal pathway through your spine to your legs. Sciatica pain is best understood as a pain that radiates along your buttocks, thighs and legs, usually on one side or the other. The pain can be very sharp and feel almost electric. The pain can last days. The good news is that it is a condition that can be treated so that the pressure on the nerve is relieved and the pain can be reduced significantly, and in some cases completely.

Sciatica pain can also be caused by an entrapped nerve in your pelvis or buttock.

When your sciatica pain is caused by degenerative disc disease the most likely suspect is the wear and tear of aging. For example, the outer portion of your discs lose water content and lubrication so that bone movement is more stressful. Skeletal forces are redirected causing bone spurs or osteophytes to develop
resulting in arthritis in your facet joints.

As a result of this age-related degeneration, nerves such as L4 and L5 in your lumbar spine and S1 and S2 in your sacral region of your spine become compressed usually by herniated discs.

New injuries and the revival of old athletic injuries can also cause a pinching of your sciatica nerve which results in the sharp radiating pain symptoms.

Degenerative disc disease is often accompanied by these five conditions:

  • Degenerating fibrocartilage
  • Inflammation from an injury
  • Osteoarthritis (spondylolysis)
  • Bones slip out of place (subluxation)
  • Narrowing of the spine

There are several non-surgical solutions for sciatica caused by degenerative disc disease. One promising new treatment is decompression using a specially designed table that helps correct the position of the spine so that the sciatica
nerve is not being pinched.

Simple physical therapy can also help relieve the stress on the nerve. Depending on the specificity of your pain, wearing a back brace and exercise may relieve the pain associated with the condition. If the pain is not relieved, your back doctor may recommend epidural injections which reduce inflammation and swelling of the area around the pinched nerve and relieve pain.

All patients are different. Some patients will find pain relief from nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Other patients will seek alternative treatments like acupuncture and chiropractic.

If your initial therapy programs do not work, Basic Spine also provides the full spectrum of minimally invasive outpatient options with many surgeries taking less than an hour with the patient back home on the same day.

Health Tips

  • Always eat breakfast
  • Eat your fruit and veg
  • Take time to shop each week
  • Sit down at the table to eat
  • Get adequate rest daily.

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