When degenerative disc disease causes lower back pain, leg pain, and other sciatica symptoms, Epidural Steroid Injections are an effective method of relieving serious pain and disability. Epidural Steroid Injections are offered in our Red Bank, NJ rehabilitation office.
Understanding Degenerative Disc Disease
Over time, the discs of the spine experience normal, age-related changes; for some people, these changes are severe enough to be known as Degenerative Disc Disease. This condition not only compromises the functions of the spinal discs, but also causes a number of other symptoms related to the compression or irritation of the spinal nerves. When the effects of degenerative disc disease are felt in the lower back (the lumbar spine), sufferers may experience the symptoms of sciatica, including lower back pain, leg pain, weakness, numbness, heaviness, etc. Disc problems in the neck cause similar sensations in the shoulders, arms, and hands.
The spinal discs have a number of important functions. These cushion-like structures separate the vertebrae of the spine for comfort while allowing for bending, twisting, and general movement and flexibility. The spinal discs were designed to absorb impact; age-related degeneration lessens this ability.
In childhood, the spinal discs are made up of 80% water; the discs require this level of hydration in order to function properly. With time, the discs lose fluid, thereby becoming less flexible and more vulnerable to injury. Over time, a disc may also incur tiny tears and/or cracks in its outer shell.
Age-related changes in the discs not only cause back and neck pain, but may also lead to bulged or herniated discs, a condition in which inner disc material bulges out, or in which the outer shell of the disc breaks, thereby allowing inner disc material to move outward toward the spinal nerves and spinal canal. Spinal stenosis, which involves the narrowing of the spinal canal, may also result from changes in the spinal discs.
Osteoarthritis is another issue that may be prompted by problems within the spinal discs. When the discs lose hydration, the space between the bones of the spine becomes smaller, thereby destabilizing the spine. This may spur the growth of bones spurs, which will result in pressure on the spinal nerve roots or on the spinal cord itself, thereby causing pain and other nerve-related symptoms (numbness, altered sensation).