What is Disc Desiccation
In order to understand the medical term disc desiccation, it is important to understand that the spinal column is made up of vertebrae or bones. Between each vertebra is a disc. The disc’s function is to act as a shock absorber as well as to act as a cushion between the bone to allow for flexibility and movement. Each disc has a gelatinous material or a water like substance that allows the disc to act as a cushion between the vertebrae.
Cause of Disc Desiccation
There are a number of causes of disc desiccation, however the most common cause of disc desiccation is due to the degenerative process. This means that as we age the fluid in the disc evaporates or slowly releases from the disc. This is through normal wear and tear. Another cause of disc desiccation may be through injury or trauma to the disc or may also be from repetitive movement causing stress or strain to a targeted area. This may be in our work, regular physical activity or our daily lifestyle.
Disc desiccation is most often the first sign of degenerative disc disease. If left untreated, patients may experience anywhere from mild to severe trauma to various parts of their spine and depending on the extent of the pain, it may have a debilitating effect on their day to day lifestyle.
Close to half of the cases diagnosed with disc desiccation are between the ages of 30 and 50 years of age. These patients typically demonstrate minimal signs and symptoms of disc desiccation. The majority of patients diagnosed with disc desiccation are 60 years of age and older. For these patients, it is considered to be normal to demonstrate signs and symptoms of disc desiccation and in fact these patients have usually experienced discomfort and have suffered a debilitating effect on their normal daily lifestyle. For some, adjustments to their lifestyle have offered pain relief, however there are some who require treatment to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Treatment for Disc Desiccation
There are a number of treatments available for disc desiccation. Before exploring surgery, there are other forms of treatment that should be explored. It is recommended that you seek the opinion of a medical professional before exploring the different forms of treatment for disc desiccation. This will allow you to have confirmation that you are indeed suffering from disc desiccation, the location of the affected disc(s) as well as if this is affecting other areas of the spinal column.
Massage therapy, physio therapy, chiropractic care and over the counter medications often provide some relief. A regular exercise program of stretching and muscle strengthening may be recommended by the physiotherapist or chiropractor. Most patients will work with the therapist, but will likely be provided simple stretches that can be done in the comfort of your home in between sessions. The therapist may also recommend ice and heat therapy.
There are low impact exercises that can be done to offer comfort as well as build strength, range of motion and flexibility. Water aerobics have proven to be a very effective form of exercise and one of the reasons for this is the water acts as a cushion during the workout. The feeling that some suffering from disc desiccation may experience is often non-existent when in the water.
Other forms of treatment may include surgery. These are surgeries to treat herniated or bulging discs where the affected disc may be partially treated, or in some cases, artificial disc replacement is performed. For patients who are experiencing severe or chronic pain and discomfort, the high success rate for surgeries of this nature is welcome. When a patient experiences loss of enjoyment in their daily lifestyle and sleep disruption, surgery can breed new life in the patient.
While traditional forms of surgery are still performed, there are minimally invasive techniques or procedures to treat disc desiccation and the benefits far outweigh those of conservative surgery. There are no hospital stays, small incision(s) resulting in minimal scarring, high success rate and quick return to normal daily activities.