Disc disease is a diagnosis often made in association with perfectly normal spinal aging which affects the intervertebral disc structures. Patients hear this nightmarish sounding name and instantly suffer from a progressive downward spiral of psychological fear as their minds conjure up visions of crumbling discs and grinding vertebrae.
I hear it from patients every day: "I am really hurt. I have degenerated discs!"
Well, here is a news flash for you... So do I. So does everyone!
Disc degeneration is universal in the lumbar and cervical areas. The degree of degeneration may vary, but in almost all cases, typical degenerative changes are not expected to produce any symptoms whatsoever. This is clinical fact.
Let's take a closer look at the ludicrous way that spinal disc desiccation is handled in the medical arena.
This condition often goes by the very intimidating name of degenerative disc disease or DDD. The actual word disease does not even apply to the condition. A disease is something abnormal and harmful, while disc degeneration is a completely normal and usually symptom-free part of the human experience.
There is no clinical proof that disc degeneration inherently causes pain or any symptoms whatsoever. Sure, getting older may cause the body some aches and pains, but nothing that can compare to the significant back pain often blamed on DDD.
Disc degeneration is one of the most overused and abused back pain scapegoats diagnosed today. Patients have pain and coincidentally have degenerated discs, so the pain must come from the discs, right?
Nothing is further from the truth.
The rest of this article will detail exactly why DDD is implicated in causing pain.
The fact is that all of us will suffer from spinal and disc degeneration. It is a normal part of life. In fact, most of us suffer from moderate to severe disc degeneration in our lower backs, necks, or both, by the age of 30. That’s right, 30. Meanwhile at age 30, there is also a good chance of having significant back pain. These facts seem to go together perfectly, until one looks deeper into the statistic pool.
After the age of 60, disc degeneration is far worse, but the incidence of back pain diminishes. In fact, DDD continues for life progressively, yet the occurrence and back pain also continues to become less frequent and less severe with the passing years. This makes no sense if DDD were inherently harmful.
Discs dehydrate as we age. Actually, water content in the intervertebral discs is in constant flux daily. Discs have variable moisture content depending on the time of day and activity level.
It is normal for discs to begin to dry out as we get older. When the discs permanently lose some of their ability to hold moisture, they shrink. This causes the disc to lose height, width and diameter. The disc becomes flatter and the vertebral bones get closer together. This is one of the contributing factors to why people get shorter as they get older.
It doesn’t. Next question… Seriously, most cases of DDD are completely normal and symptom-free. It is possible for some patients to experience some minor symptoms related to degenerated discs, but it is rare and dependent on extraordinary circumstances.
The vast majority of patients complaining of disc degeneration pain are simply following the psychological suggestion given to them by their doctor...
“I have disc degeneration? Oh my God!" Pain is not far behind…
If doctors took the time to explain the facts about this condition, there would be exponentially fewer patients suffering any symptoms at all. However, we all know that idea does not go along with the economic motivation behind the back pain industry and its well established treatment agenda.
When it comes to dealing with a diagnosis of DDD, here are some easy recommendations to help you along. Ok, this last part is so easy...
First, stop calling it a disease.
Next, Do not fear this normal part of aging.
Finally, get involved in your own care and learn. Learn the truth about DDD and what to expect from the spinal changes which will occur as your get older. The internet has revolutionized the way people can participate in their own care since the world wide web is a vast place full of useful information. Use it to your advantage.