Degenerative back pain is theorized to be caused by any of the various aging processes which typically or atypically affect the spine.
As we get older, many spinal structures break down as part of their natural and normal life spans. Most of the time, this structural degeneration does not cause any pain or symptoms. However, some patients do experience symptoms, as well as an increased chance for spinal injury as a result of the degenerative effects of age and use.
A proper diagnosis is crucial for the successful treatment of degenerative pain, but should never be taken for granted.
This is because the normal degenerative changes demonstrated in virtually every adult human spine on the planet are very often mistakenly blamed as the source of pain, when all the while another reason for symptoms truly exists undiscovered.
Degenerative disc disease is really not a disease at all. It is a normal thinning of the intervertebral discs that occurs in everyone as we get older. DDD is rarely responsible for serious pain, but it is often a scapegoat when pain is coincidentally present. It is always a favorite of diagnosticians, since it is almost guaranteed to be present in the cervical and lumbar spinal zones. Furthermore, there is no cure, only highly profitable long-term treatment.
Degenerative joint disease is also a completely normal part of the aging process. DJD is also called spinal osteoarthritis and is rarely overly painful. DJD is another scapegoat often blamed for common back ache.
Degenerative spondylolisthesis can be a direct result of DJD. Most mild to moderate (grade 1 and 2) cases are not painful, but some patients with more significant expressions do suffer moderate to severe symptoms.
Facet joint syndrome is another result of spinal osteoarthritis. Facet syndrome is rarely painful, but is often blamed for symptoms in older patients who demonstrate hypertrophy of the joints, even without neurological correlation or positive diagnosis.
Degenerative conditions are statistically rarely the main reason for serious lasting back pain, although they may facilitate symptoms to one degree or another in some sufferers. These conditions are simply part of the aging process and might be mildly symptomatic or not at all.
It is funny how clinical studies have proven little, if any, direct link between all these degenerative process and the occurrence of chronic pain. However, also proven is how psychological back pain definitely exists, but is almost never diagnosed! Illogical, but so true in the structurally-obsessed medical system of recent years past. Times are finally changing with more doctors acknowledging the role of the mind in causing and curing physical pain syndromes. It's about time!
Unfortunately for the patient, most treatments will do little to relieve their pain and the nocebo effect of the diagnosis may perpetuate their symptoms long-term, even if there is no actual anatomical causative reason. The majority of patients diagnosed with degenerative symptoms enter into a struggle with treatment-resistant back pain. Of course treatments will fail if they are seeking to correct a problem that is not even responsible for the pain.
Some of these patients will become addicted to pain management drugs, while other unlucky patients will be talked into unneeded back surgery. Few will find lasting relief, but many will suffer negative consequences of these invasive procedures, including infection, escalated symptomology, scar tissue, nerve damage and disability.
Remember that degeneration is normal in the spine, for discs and bones alike. Some patients will suffer from accelerated spinal degeneration due to lifestyle and genetics.
It is known that some
degenerative processes can contribute to other pain-inducing conditions,
but it is rare that these degenerative issues will be symptomatic unto
themselves, unless the anatomical changes are extreme.
Misdiagnosed back pain is more common than you might believe, especially when the theorized source of pain is normal spinal degeneration. Remember this and allow your research to guide you past the myths of back pain causes and into the realm of reality.