Pinched Nerve Pain Relief or Degenerative Disc Pain

Also known as DDD, degenerative disc disease, lumbar radiculopathy, cervical radiculopathy, pinched nerve, herniated intervertebral disc, prolapsed intervertebral disc, ruptured disc, slipped disc, degenerative disc, extruded disc, and annular tears.

Pinched Nerve or Degenerative Disc Disease Information

Definition: Degenerative disc disease is a gradual deterioration of the intervertebral discs of the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine. With time, the fibers of the outer layer of the disc weaken and the fluid in the center of the disc dries out and the spaces between the vertebrae narrows.

Overview: The spinal column is separated into four parts, the cervical spine (or neck area), the thoracic spine (runs along the back of the chest) and the lumbar spine (lower back) and the sacral spine (becomes a part of the pelvis). Interertebral discs are located between the vertebrae of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine. The vertebrae are circular bones that form the spinal column which run down the back connecting the skull to the pelvis. The spinal column provides support and movement for the body and protects the spinal cord and nerves that exit from the skull to travel down the back. Intervertebral discs are tough ligamentous structures with a soft jelly-like center that separate the vertebral bodies and provide cushioning like many shock absorbers to the spine, spinal cord and brain.

Degenerative disc disease may occur in the neck, mid, or low back
Intervertebral discs may be damaged as a result of an acute injury or a gradual deterioration of the disc by repetitive trauma or the effects of aging. The disc usually compresses, becomes thin and even cracks. Many times these weakened fibers may tear resulting in a protrusion, bulge or herniation of the disc into the spinal canal. Pieces of the disc wall or the remaining fluid contents of the disc may be expelled into the spinal canal. These changes may begin as early as young adulthood and progress into the senior years. The majority of the symptoms surface in the late middle ages and senior years. Degeneration may involve one or more discs at any level of the spinal column. The changes in the discs can result in neck, upper back, or lower back pain. Most of the pain due to disc degeneration involves irritation or compression of the spinal nerve roots that lay next to the discs. But back pain may also develop as a result of other accompanying degenerative processes such as degenerative joint disease.

Degenerative disc pain is frequently severe and disabling
The pain associated with disc injuries may range from mild to severe but frequently result in severe disabling pain and loss of function. Degenerative disc disease usually progresses with age. Smoking, obesity, previous spinal injury, and heavy repetitive lifting increase the risk of degenerative disc disease. There is no known cure for degenerative disc disease and surgery is usually not indicted. Surgery may be required when the excruciating pain does not resolve or when severe nerve damage is evident. However, even with the best surgeon, surgery is not always successful and in many cases, the patient’s condition worsens. As with any chronic pain, a physician should be consulted for a complete evaluation to rule out more serious medical conditions such as infection or cancer.

Pinched Nerve Symptoms

  • Pain in the neck, mid back, or low back
  • Pain may be of gradual onset
  • Pain aggravated with movement of the spine
  • Pain is aggravated with prolonged sitting, standing, or walking
  • Pain may radiate into the upper or lower extremities
  • Pain may be associated with numbness, tingling, or weakness of the upper or lower extremities

  • Pinched Nerve Treatment Options

    The usual treatments are often too much, frequently too dangerous and rarely enough. The standard treatments for pain due to degenerative disc disease are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription narcotic and non-narcotic medication, rest, physical therapy, steroid injections, and traction. As most patients who suffer with this type of pain soon realize, these treatments are usually not sufficient and many, especially the oral medications, are associated with serious side effects such as sedation, nausea, constipation, and even addiction. Extended use of some over-the counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen may even result in stomach ulcers, kidney failure, heart failure, and liver failure. Many sufferers with pain due to degenerative disc disease often search for alternative solutions to the usual over-the-counter and prescription medications. Surgery may be required when the excruciating pain does not resolve or when severe nerve damage is evident. However, even with the best surgeon, surgery is not always successful and in many cases, the patient’s condition worsens.

    Sudden severe pain, especially in the chest, arms, or head, pain associated with fever, numbness or weakness, or pain in any area of the body that does not resolve after a couple of weeks, should always be evaluated by a physician to be certain that other medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, infections, or even cancer is not the underlying cause of pain.

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