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Degenerative Disc Disease

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Table of Contents

Degenerative Disc Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatments

Degenerative disc disease is a condition that occurs when the cushioning discs between the spinal vertebrae begin to deteriorate. These discs act as shock absorbers for the spine. With disc damage, pain, numbness, and weakness in the extremities start to set in. 

In severe cases, disc deterioration can cause restricted mobility and even paralysis. While there is no treatment for disc issues and the past treatments were quite limited, there are treatments that can help slow its progression and ease the symptoms. 

One such promising treatment is regenerative medicine. The innovative treatment entails using cellular therapies like stem cell therapy to enhance the natural process of renewal in our body. 

These non-invasive procedures effectively reduce pain and inflammation. As a result, stem cell therapy offers hope for patients with degenerative disc disease. 

In Pakistan, patients with disc issues can now avail innovative stem cell treatment to improve their situation. R3 Stem Cell Medical Center is the number one provider of ethical stem cell procedures for over 82 diseases. So, If you are suffering from a degenerative disc condition, talk to your doctor about stem cell therapy as a treatment option.

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

It is only natural for the spinal discs to show signs of aging through minor wear and tear. However, many people experience damage to their bodies due to the premature aging process.  Degenerative disc disease is a condition that results when the discs in the spine deteriorate earlier or faster than usual. 

This damage can be accelerated by injury, health, lifestyle,  repetitive motion, and lastly, genes. The discs act as cushions between the vertebrae, and when they degenerate, it can lead to pain, stiffness, and other problems. Degenerative disc typically affects adults over the age of 40.

However, it can also occur in younger adults and children. The symptoms of degenerative disc condition vary depending on the severity of the condition. In some cases, the pain is mild and only occurs occasionally. In other cases, the pain is severe and constant. The pain may be accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected area.

Degenerative disc disease can be diagnosed with a physical examination and imaging tests such as x-rays or MRI. Treatment options include pain medication, physical therapy, exercise, lifestyle changes, and surgery. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for preventing the condition from progressing and causing permanent damage to the spine.

Types of Degenerative Disc Disease?

The condition degenerative disc disease itself is a type of degenerative arthritis that affects your spine. Furthermore, there are four types of degenerative disc disorder. These are categorized according to which parts of the spine they impact.

The conventional treatments for all types of disc conditions vary according to the severity of the disease. These types of disc issues include cervical degenerative disc disease, thoracic degenerative disc disease, and lumbar degenerative disc disease.

Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease

The cervical discs are the first 7 vertebral discs in the spine: C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, and C7. These discs help support the weight of the head and allow for a wide range of head motion. Cervical degenerative disc disease is the second most frequent kind of disc spondylosis.

Patients suffering from degeneration of the cervical discs can often experience a stiff neck and a disturbing sensation between the neck and shoulder blades. Severe cervical disc pain can lead to complications with the spinal cord, disc bulging, or herniation.

Thoracic Degenerative Disc Disease

Following the cervical discs, the thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae. (T1 to T12). The thoracic spine vertebrae make up the mid-back and are firmly linked to the rib cage and breast bone. Injury-induced inflammation in muscle and tissues around the thoracic spine is a common cause of thoracic disc issues. 

It is not really common for degenerative diseases to affect these discs, but if it does, back pain is a common symptom that affects the site of the degenerative disc. Disc degeneration is hardly reversed with conventional treatments. However, with groundbreaking new therapies, a major reversal of disc issues is possible without any risky or invasive procedures.

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease

The most common type of degenerative disc disease occurs in the lumbar region. The lumber disc lies between 5 vertebrae, numbered L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5.  These make the lower back area, which deals with a great deal of flexibility, and motion and bears most of the body’s weight. 

Lumbar disc degeneration entails lower back pain, muscle weakness, impaired nerve sensation, tingling, or numbness. Other symptoms also include radiating pain from the buttocks, legs, and feet. Lumbar disc damage is one of the most common reasons behind sciatic pain.

The Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease

Our spinal discs consist of two parts. A soft, balm-like core consisting of proteins is known as the nucleus pulposus. These proteins can cause a lot of pain and inflammation if they leak out. The soft core is surrounded by a tough and firm outer layer containing nerves and is called the annulus fibrosus. The following issues cause the degenerative disc problem 

Tearing of Annulus Fibrosus

The major reason behind degenerative disc disease is injury-induced tearing of the annulus fibrosus. The firm outer layer of the disc contains nerves, any tearing close to nerves can cause pain and stress. 

This tearing can also cause the soft jelly-like structure of the core to push out against the outer layer. This condition is often known as a herniated or slipped disk. This can cause severe pain in the nearby nerves.

Core Drying

The reason why the discs are so cushiony is that they mostly consist of water.  With time and use, the water dries out and the discs get thinner. Loss of water means that the disk losses its quality and is no longer padded to absorb shock and jerks. This can cause pain and spinal complications.

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

Even though the exact symptoms depend on the location of the disc damage. The most common symptoms of degenerative disc disease are sharp pains in the neck and back. Degenerative disc disease is a condition that can cause pain in the back and neck. The discs in the spine are made up of a gel-like substance that cushions the bones and prevents them from rubbing together. Over time, the discs can become damaged and begin to degenerate. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and other symptoms. 

Degenerative disc disease is most common in people between the age of 50-60, but it can occur at any age. If you suspect that you may have degenerative disc disease, it is important to talk to your doctor. They will be able to diagnose the condition and recommend treatment options. The following are some of the most common symptoms

↠ A pain that lingers in the lower back, upper thighs, and hips to varying degrees. This pain can suddenly vanish and reappear for irregular periods. 

↠ Sitting hurts more than walking.

↠ The slightest movements that engage the lower back can cause pain. i.e., raising, bending, and twisting. 

↠ Ulceration in sensations like numbness or tingling sensations can be a symptom. 

How is Degenerative Disc Disease Diagnosed?

Degenerative disc disease usually takes a long time to get diagnosed. This is because the disc deteriorates slowly. Many patients mistake it for regular pain that occurs due to strenuous activities. Another reason for the delayed diagnosis of DDD is related conditions; issues like a herniated disc or spinal stenosis are often misdiagnosed as the sole reason behind back pain. 

The regular diagnosis for degenerative disc disease starts with the physician taking the patient’s medical history. The doctor may ask them the typical diagnostic questions like:

↠ When did you start experiencing the pain? 

↠ Is there any activity that changes the intensity of your pain? 

↠ How far does the pain travel?

↠ To what extent does it interfere with your routine

After this, the doctors might conduct a physical or neurological exam. The doctor may observe the patient’s physical condition, posture, range of motion, and manner of movement. Muscle strength, reflexes, and other nerve changes are also observed during these examinations. 

After these observations, the doctor might prescribe imaging tests to navigate the damage to nerves and bones. These tests may include X-rays, electromyography (EMG), CT scans, and MRI.

Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is untreatable. Nonetheless, in recent years the medical field has established a few promising options for patients with degenerative disc disease. This novel approach is far more effective than the traditional treatment and management options for DDD. We’ll discuss both the conventional and novel treatments to provide insights to our readers about which treatment they should opt for without much concern about the risk of rejection or side effects. 

Common treatment options include pain medication, physical therapy, exercise, chiropractic therapy, massage, spinal injections, and surgery. Surgery is usually only recommended as a last resort when all other treatment options have failed to provide relief. If you’re dealing with degenerative disc disease, talk to your doctor about what treatment options are right for you.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help to strengthen the muscles around the affected area and improve the range of motion. Yet, it can only go so far. Physiotherapy can be very effective in mild stages of disc degeneration but it might be unable to reverse the situation for patients with moderate to severe DDD.

Surgery

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a degenerative condition of the spine in which the discs between the vertebrae begin to break down and degenerate. For most DDD patients, surgical therapies are a last-resort therapy option. Though it can aid to ease the symptoms of persons who are affected by this disease. Treatment options include disc replacement, fusion surgery, and laminectomy. 

One of the most common surgical treatments for degenerative disc disease is artificial disc replacement (ADR). This procedure involves removing the damaged disc and replacing it with an artificial one. ADR can help to relieve pain and somewhat restore mobility. Each type of surgery has its own risks and negative impacts so it is important to discuss all options with a surgeon before making a decision.

Stem Cell Therapy for Degenerative Disc Disease

Stem cell therapy is a modern approach to treating multiple diseases with any invasive or risky procedures. So what are stem cells? Often known as the master or key cells of a living organism, stem cells are unstructured and unspecialized cells that exist in our body.

These cells have self-multiplication and differentiating properties that naturally help us repair bodily damage. This bodily damage can occur due to aging, disease, and injury. However, sometimes this damage cannot be repaired on its own. The main two reasons behind this are

Stem Cell Scarcity

The stem cells present in the bone marrow grow scarce with age. This delays or weakens an individual’s ability to renew naturally.

Insufficient Blood Flow

Another reason is that the area or organ that has been damaged, is unable to send a single repair through our system. These affected areas might lack a sufficient amount of blood vessels to send for stem cells. Another example is heart tissue that doesn’t regenerate naturally after the damage.

This is where stem cell therapy comes in. Stem cell therapy is a treatment that entails injecting stem cell material into the area of damage to accelerate the process of natural repair. Stem cell therapy uses these natural cells with unique properties to help enhance the body’s regenerative abilities. The treatment can utilize cells obtained from both allogeneic and autologous.

Sources for Stem Cells to Treat Degenerative Disc Disease

The umbilical cord stem cells and amniotic fluid stem cells are preferable, safe, and ethical sources of stem cells. These stem cells are young, undifferentiated, and free of exposure to environmental toxins. Both umbilical cord and amniotic fluid stem cells require minimal manipulation in the lab and are free of any chances of rejection have the least chance of rejection.

Stem Cell Injections to Degenerative Disc Disease Patients

Stem cell treatment is completely safe and doesn’t require invasive procedures. The stem cells are introduced to the patients through injections. These can be intravenous and intrathecal injections depending on the patient’s condition. Mostly in cases of degenerative disc disease, stem cells are directly injected into the area of damage.

Effects of Stem Cell Therapy on Patients with Degenerative Disc Disease

The blood flow to the spine is extremely limited. So when any damage occurs due to aging, disease, or injury the process of repair is weak and slow. This is where stem cell therapy is amazingly helpful.

The stem cells have unique properties that help with the repairing of the disc. These properties include proliferation (self-renewal), differentiation, anti-inflammation, and immunomodulation. Following are some of the observable functions stem cells perform in DDD patients.

1. New Specialized Cells

Stem cells have the ability to self-renew or self-multiply. These cells divide into new stem cells as well as the specialized-functional cells. These cells differentiate into nerves, tissues, and bone cells. In Degenerative Disc Disease patients, stem cells differentiate into nerve, tissue, and bone cells.

  • When the disc is deteriorating the nerves in on the outer layer get affected. This results in a changed sensation. When stem cells differentiate into nerve cells they improve the structure of the outer layer of the discs and signal transformation. 
  • This soothes the pain that the patient experiences while suffering from disc problems in the back or neck.
  • Better signal transfer can lead to an acceleration in the process of natural improvement.

2. Improved Micro-Environment

Stem cells are also capable of modifying the immune system and the overall micro-environment of the body.

  • The stem cells stimulate the release of bioactive growth factors which get rid of the debris from nerve damage in the outer layer of the disc. This regulates even better signal transformation.
  • The growth factors actually hold the degeneration process. This is significant because it slows or stops the progression of secondary issues caused by degenerating discs, such as chronic back pain, restricted motion, spinal cord and nerve root compression with radiating pain in the arms and legs, deformation and inflammation in vertebral bodies (osteochondrosis), facet joint arthrosis, and others.
  • Stem cells slow down the degeneration of proteoglycan the gel that provides hydration to the vertebral disc. This will allow the spine to actually bear the weight of the body and absorb the shocks. 
  • Stem cells can regenerate the formation of connective tissue. This helps and repairs the damaged soft tissue

3. Overall Improvement

  • Stem cell treatment significantly improves disc degeneration, and delays or eliminates the need for surgical treatment. 
  • MRI scans show significant improvement of the spine after one year of the treatment. This shows the treatment is significantly cost-effective. 
  • Stem cells do not even have any negative side effects

Degenerative Disc Disease Stem Cell Treatment at R3 Medical Centre

Around 40% of the global population of adults over the age of 40 are suffering from disc conditions. Even in Pakistan, most adults of a mature age complain about serious back or spine-related issues. If you or someone you know is looking for an effective and safe solution for degenerative disc issues, discuss the possibility of utilizing stem cell treatment with your health consultant. 

R3 Medical Center is a multinational stem cell therapy provider. After 16000 successful treatments in the U.S, R3 Medical Institute brings cutting-edge technology to Pakistan. Our stem cell treatments are regulated by Federal Drug Authority. 

R3 Stem Cell Center uses ethically donated umbilical cord and amniotic fluid stem cells. These cells are screen tested in our highly advanced laboratories before being administered to our patients. Our experts provide safe treatments not only for degenerative disc disease but for 82 other diseases. For further information about those diseases or stem cell treatments contact us at (051) 8896711

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