It can be difficult to diagnose degenerative disc disease (DDD) because it grows gradually and can pose a multitude of associated problems (spinal stenosis, herniated disc, etc). For example, your doctor may be able to rapidly diagnose you for having a herniated disc, but it is more challenging to diagnose a herniated disc due to degenerative disc disease.
If you have back or neck pain that comes on suddenly, or in the event you have pain that persists, call a doctor who will refer you to a spine specialist. Your healthcare specialist will make an effort to discover the reason for your pain so that he or she can develop an accurate treatment plan for you—a method to manage your pain and other symptoms of degenerative disc disease and also that will help you recover.
As he/she works toward a diagnosis, your spinal specialist will ask about your present symptoms and what treatments you’ve already attempted.
Common Degenerative Disc Disease Questions
- When did the back or neck pain begin?
- What activities did you lately do?
- What have you done for your own pain?
- Does the pain go or radiate to other areas of your body?
- Does anything lessen the pain or allow it to be worse?
Neurological and physical exams will be also performed by the healthcare professional. In the physical exam, she or he will notice your position, range of motion (how well and how much you can transfer specific joints), and physical state, noting any movement that triggers you pain. They will aslo feel for muscle spasms, notice alignment and its curvature, and will feel your back.
During the neurological exam, he or she will test your reflexes, muscle strength, other nerve changes, and pain spread (that is—does your pain travel from your back and into other parts of the body?). As it can impact your nerves or even your spinal cord, the neurological exam is especially significant in degenerative disk disease.
You may require to get some imaging tests, to diagnose degenerative disk disorder. You could possibly have an x-ray, which can help your healthcare specialist “see” the bones in your spine. X-rays are good at revealing narrowed spinal stations (spinal stenosis), fractures, bone spurs (osteophytes), or osteoarthritis. Your spinal specialist may refer to these as “basic films.” By that, she or he means that you will have several normal x ray viewpoints done. You’ll have one chosen from the side; that is called a lateral view. You will also provide a “straight on” shot, and it can be done in the front or the back. An x ray shot from the front is named an anteroposterior (AP) view; from the back, it’s called a posteroanterior (PA) view. On the plain pictures, your spine specialist will be trying to find break, scoliosis, and vertebral alignment —other spinal problems that can come along with DDD.
Your healthcare professional may also order flexion and extension x-rays to assess the stability of your back as well as your range of movement (how well your joints move). You’ll be requested to bend forward (flexion) and backwards (extension) during these x rays.
A computerized tomography (CT) scan or or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test may be demanded. These evaluations are somewhat more effective than x-rays at showing the soft tissues in your back and can help to identify issues such as a bulging disc or a herniated disc. A CT scan is useful because it’s more easy to begin to see the bones and nerves on it, therefore if a bone spur is pressing on a nerve, the surgeon can easily spot.
In case the specialist suspects nerve damage from degenerative changes in your spinal column, he or she may order a special test called an electromyography (EMG) to measure how fast your nerves respond.
Additional evaluations can be required by making a degenerative disk disorder identification.
- Bone scan: To assist your surgeon find spinal difficulties for example osteoarthritis, fractures, or illnesses (which could all be related to DDD), you may have a bone scan. You’ll possess a rather small number of radioactive material injected into a blood vessel. Your bones will go during your bloodstream and absorb that. An area where there’s unusual activity, including an inflammation will absorbs more radioactive material. A scanner can discover the amount of radiation in all your bones and show the “hot spots” (the places with more radioactive material) to help your surgeon figure out where the problem is.
- Discogram or discography: This is really a process that confirms or denies the disc(s) as the way to obtain your pain. You will possess a harmless dye injected into among your disks. When there is an issue together with your disk—like the herniated of it’s —the dye will leak from the disk. The surgeon will likely be capable of see that on an xray, and which will reveal him/her that there’s something wrong along with your disc.
- Myelogram: To see for those who have a spinal canal or spinal cord disorder—perhaps nerve compression causing weakness and pain —you might possess a myelogram. In this evaluation, you’ll have a unique dye injected to the area around your spinal cord and nerves. (Before that happens, the region is going to be numbed.) Then you’ll have an x-ray or a CT scan. The image will give a thorough anatomic picture of your spine, notably of the bones, that’ll help your spine surgeon to recognize any abnormalities.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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