Lower back pain is one of the most common conditions suffered by adults across the US. There are multiple sources for lower back pain, most often it is caused by issues such as a lumbar sprain, spinal stenosis, disc herniation or other degenerative spine issues. The term discogenic pain is commonly used to describe back pain, as it means that the source is a degenerative disc issue.
What is Discogenic Back Pain?
Discogenic back pain refers to chronic, often severe pain, that stems from a the deterioration of the spinal discs over time.
Causes of Discogenic Back Pain
Like other areas of the body, the spinal discs all have their own network of nerves. The spinal disc is composed of a soft inner, gel-like interior known as the nucleus pulposus and a hard, outer shell – similar to an outer ring structure, known as the annulus fibrosus. This outer shell has a number of nerve fibers attached – discogenic pain occurs when these nerves become irritated. Generally, the degeneration of the spinal discs is the main cause of the nerve irritation; the following issues can play a role in the degeneration of our spinal discs:
- Unhealthy Lifestyle – Lack of Diet & Exercise
Internal Disc Disruption (IDD)
One of the most common types of discogenic pain disorders is known as internal disc disruption or IDD. An IDD occurs when the disc gets cracked or experiences a tear allowing for the inner nucleus to come into contact with the outer shell. As this occurs, a chemical called a protecogylcanis released from the nucleus pulposus. Protecoglycans may irritate the annular nerves causing an inflammatory response and pain.
As we age, our body tends to breakdown and deteriorate over time. And like the rest of our body, our spine is not different. The most notable of such a deterioration within the spine, is degenerative disc disease – the breakdown, drying out and damage of the spinal discs over time, as a result of aging. When this degeneration gets to its advanced stages, lower back pain becomes an issue and the most common symptom.
Discogenic pain is associated with movements that put pressure on the spinal discs.
- Sitting down, bending forwards, coughing and even sneezing are all triggers for discogenic back pain.
- Leg pain as a result of radiculopathy (pinched nerves) in the lumbar spine area. Especially while sitting, standing or walking.
Once your degenerative disc issues have been diagnosed, using MRIs and other imaging methods – treatment may be necessary. Depending on the extent of your issues, you may require a variety of different treatment methods.
Non-Surgical Options include:
- Physical Therapy
- Medication – Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, pain relievers, and even anti-depressants.
- Spinal Injections – Epidurals or corticosteroids.
- Bracing – To support and put a limit on the movement that is possible; limits pain and used in the interim before surgery.
- Other Methods include – Yoga, acupuncture, and certain lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or losing weight.
When it comes to treating discogenic back pain with surgery, it is highly dependent on the source of the pain and what symptoms you might be suffering from. For the most part, most procedures are minimally-invasive, and do not require large scars or incisions. They also allow patients a shorter recovery period and less painful healing period. Depending on the specifics of your issues, some surgical procedures that may help include:
- Decompression Surgery
- Discectomy Surgery
- Spinal Fusion
For more information on discogenic back pain, other spinal issues, or to schedule a consultation, please contact Dr. Arutyunyan today.