06 Jun Epidural Injections Can Treat Degenerative Disc Disease
Everyone’s spinal discs wear with age, making degenerative disc disease a very common condition in older individuals. Although it is called degenerative disc disease, it is not a disease. It is a condition of the spinal discs that cause chronic pain. This condition can be especially concerning for older adults, as they lose a lot of their independence and mobility. Epidural injections may be able to treat your chronic pain from degenerative disc disease.
What Are Epidural Injections?
An epidural steroid injection is a nonsurgical procedure that can help relieve pain in your joints and spine caused by inflamed nerves. The injection is delivered into the space between your vertebrae called the epidural space. This space is a fat-filled cushion to protect your spinal discs from rubbing against each other and crushing vital nerves. Steroid injections have been proven to reduce inflammation, reducing pain in an injured area. These injections do not heal the spinal disc, but reduce the inflammation in the area, relieving the pressure on nerves causing pain. Steroids can cause weight gain, mood swings, and insomnia in some patients. People with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease should discuss with a doctor if this procedure is safe for them.
What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Spinal discs are essentially shock absorbers between the vertebrae of the spine. They keep the spine flexible and stabilize certain motions. Each disc is made up of two parts. The first part is the tough outer layer. The outer portion of this layer contains many nerves, so if a disc tears in this layer it is very painful. The second layer is a gel-like inside. This part of the disc can release proteins that make the surrounding tissues swollen and tender. If these proteins come in contact with the outer layer of the disc, your chronic pain may become worse. Unlike other body tissues, discs have little blood supply. Once you injure a disc, it cannot repair itself. There are many reasons discs begin to weaken. As young children, our discs are made up of around 80% water. As we begin to age, discs dry out and don’t absorb trauma as well. Athletes and active individuals can tear the outer core of their disc. By age 60 almost everyone will begin to have some degree of disc degeneration.
How Can Epidural Injections Treat My Degenerative Disc Disease?
Recent studies have shown great success in treating the pain associated with degenerative disc disease with epidural injections. They also saw a reduction of inflammation in the injured disc. Some saw improvements in their pain for months to years. The treatments are better with continued use.