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Understanding degenerative disc disease

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2018 | Physical Disabilities

As you have gotten older, new aches and pains in your back have developed that make it hard for you to live your life in California as you used to. Maybe the pain is constant, or maybe it comes and goes, or affects you only during certain activities, such as standing up and sitting down. Regardless, it is seriously affecting how you function. We at the Disability Rights Law Center often advise people whose lives are changed because of back pain from degenerative disc disease.

According to WebMD, an accident or injury in the past may have caused tears in the outer wall of one or more of your spinal discs, or the damage to the discs could be from wear over time, or from the drying effect age naturally has on discs. Any of these changes damages the shock-absorbing function of the spinal discs, which are located between the vertebrae. You could sustain damage to the bones, or nerve damage, or both, as a result of degenerating discs.

Pain in your back may not be your only symptom, or it may not be a symptom at all. You may notice numbness and tingling sensations or muscle weakness in your arms and legs, for example. Pain in your buttocks or upper thighs could also be caused by a damaged disc. 

At times, the issues caused by the disc problems could be alleviated by strengthening the surrounding muscles, which may provide more support for your spine. A doctor may recommend physical therapy to build up these muscles. Surgery to remove the damaged disc may alleviate nerve pain, although this is usually a last resort. If the doctor determines that correcting the issue is not possible, he or she could offer steroid shots to address the pain.

For information about financial assistance available to people with a disability due to back pain, please visit our webpage.

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