Intervertebral disc wear and tear (degeneration)

Over the course of everyday life, the spine is subjected to many different stresses. Natural wear and tear causes the discs to lose their buffering function and reduce in height over time. At the beginning you will barely notice this degenerative process occurring. Various influences such as lack of exercise, being overweight, previous injuries or simply growing older, however, can cause the wear and tear to advance to a degree that it causes symptoms. The discs have fewer vital cells, their water content is reduced, their elasticity diminished and they have cracks in their surface.

These changes form the basis for the development of further conditions, such as: intervertebral disc protrusions or prolapseswear of spinal joints (facet joint syndrome)spondylolisthesis or spinal instability. As a result, these conditions often occur in combination.

X-ray of a degenerated spine

Symptoms

Back or neck pain, muscle spasm and limitations of movement. Pain can be felt over a larger area or at a specific point. As a result, untreated pain under strain or early morning pain can quickly develop into constant pain. The loss of intervertebral disc height causes stress to the joints of the spine (facet joint syndrome) and / or narrowing of the nerve canal (neural-foraminal stenosis), which can lead to pain radiation, tingling and feelings of numbness.

Treatment

In principle, in-depth diagnostic procedures should be carried out first. Pain can usually be relieved through conservative therapies such as physiotherapy, manual therapy, medication, injections, infiltrations, infusions, magnetic field therapy, acupuncture or electric current therapy. One effective alternative is intervertebral disc cell transplantation, in which the worn disc tissue is supplemented with biologically grown cells from the patient's own body. In some cases, denervation procedures, minimally invasive methods or microsurgery are required.