Degenerative Disc Disease Diagnosis and Treatments

How is Discogenic Back Pain Diagnosed?

When it comes to finding the best back pain relief, it’s important to get a thorough diagnosis of your condition. In order to do this, your doctor may rely on an MRI. This diagnostic tool gives your doctor a clear picture of any abnormalities or changes that are happening to the discs in your spine. On an MRI, a doctor can easily identify disc tears that could indicate you are suffering from degenerative disc disease.

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MRI image of high white intensity zone representing a disc tear
degenerative disc disease diagnosis nj
X-RAY image of a discography

An MRI is not the only diagnostic tool available. Additionally, your spine doctor may want a provocative discogram or discography. This involves injecting the damaged or painful discs with a high-contrast dye that makes them more visible under fluoroscopy. The doctor will then be able to see the shape, size, and any damage that has been done to your disc that may be causing your pain.

What Are the Treatment Options for Discogenic Back Pain?

There are a number of treatments available for discogenic back pain and degenerative disc disease. These range from conservative therapies to invasive surgical procedures. Your doctor will help you determine which is the best course of action to treat your symptoms and help you find relief for your chronic back pain. Their goal is to locate the source of your pain, relieve it, and prevent it from coming back. Your doctor will try other treatment options before recommending surgery.

Non-Operative Treatment

  • Pain medications. This can include anti-inflammatory medications or even narcotic painkillers.
  • Alternating heat and cold compress on the affected area.
  • Physical exercise including stretching, massaging and strengthening the affected area.
  • Epidural steroid injections to relieve inflammation and diagnose the affected area.

Least Invasive Procedures

If non-surgical treatments are not providing adequate relief and you are still experiencing pain from degenerative disc disease after six months, surgery may be recommended. An endoscopic discectomy is the least invasive surgical procedure for degenerative disc disease and allows the patient to return to their normal activities much sooner than other treatments. During this procedure, a tiny incision is made near the site of the damaged disc. A camera is inserted so the spinal surgeon can pinpoint the damaged area. The damage is then cleaned and then heated to close the tear in the damaged disc.

Endoscopic Discectomy – Learn More

Recovery After Discogenic Back Pain Treatments

When utilizing non-operative treatment options for degenerative disc disease and discogenic back pain, many people make positive improvements in a few weeks. As they combine treatment with lifestyle changes, they can manage pain and reduce their number of flare-ups. Some even see their symptoms eliminated. However, if the pain continues, a least invasive procedure from the expert team at Spine Institute of North America may be necessary.

How Long Is Recovery After an Endoscopic Discectomy?

The endoscopic discectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that lasts about an hour and sees most patients going home about an hour after surgery. The incision site is so small that it requires no stitches and is covered with a band-aid. Some patients experience minimal discomfort after the procedure, such as:

  • Pain localized to the incision site
  • Some soreness or muscle aches
  • Infrequent nerve pain during recovery

Once patients return home, they may need to take pain medication for these symptoms for a short time. However, the long-term prognosis is excellent, with the success rate reaching over 90 percent.

As you recover, take things slowly and listen to your body. Within a few days, the pain should subside. Your doctor will probably recommend physical therapy to increase strength and flexibility in the affected area. Although some patients can return to work in one to two weeks, everyone is different. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you resume your normal, daily activities or try to perform physical labor. They’ll want to ensure you are fully healed.

If you require treatment for degenerative disc disease, you can turn to the trusted doctors at Spine Institute of North America. This New Jersey-based practice has locations in East Brunswick, Marlton and East Windsor.

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