The discs in the spinal column can lead to disabling back pain in fomerly-active people. An age older than 60 is especially linked to disc degeneration, but accidents and repetitive stress injuries in younger adults are also common causes. As the cushioning function of the vertebral discs is eroded due arthritis or other reason, you can experience increasing levels of pain in your back. The term – “Leaky Disc Syndrome” – was coined to describe a particular feature of disc degeneration (referred to as annulus fibrosus tears).
The specialized physicians at NeuroMicroSpine in West Florida perform a wide range of spinal minimally-invasive procedures as part of a patient’s comprehensive back pain treatment plan. Described below are treatment options for annulus fibrosus tears, as well as other disc abnormalities linked to a degenerative disc disorder.
Composition of Vertebral Discs
Each of the 24 discs cushioning the spine’s vertebrae is composed of an outer layer (annulus fibrosus) and inner layer (nucleus pulposus), and these absorb the normal pressure placed on the the vertebrae. An article in Techniques in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Management noted that annulus fibrosis tears enable the release of inflammatory constituents contained within discs.
Furthermore, the article specified that sealing annular tears can minimize resulting extrusion of the nucleus pulposus. Disc inflammation can lead to nerve impingement in the spinal column, which often causes pain. Likewise, lessened cartilage between the vertebral bones (as the primary feature of osteoarthritis [OA]) can also lead to increased pain as the OA worsens.
If oral medications and cortisone shots do not eliminate the OA back pain, minimally-invasive surgery may be recommended.
What is the Difference Between Disc Herniation and Disc Degeneration?
Disc herniation involves displacement and rupture (which can be a consequence of vertebral degeneration). However, it can also occur as the result of heavy lifting (so is one of the most common work-related injuries sustained by nurses and home health aides. Herniated discs are also frequently the result of motor vehicle accidents and contact sports injuries. The usual treatment for disc herniation is minimally-invasive surgery or major (hospital-based) surgery.
Study findings published in the Journal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques revealed that minimally-invasive surgery to perform lumbar interbody fusion for moderate-to-severe disc herniation is appropriate. One of the minimally-invasive surgeries performed by the physician specialists at NeuroMicroSpinein Florida is lumbar interbody fusion.
The Biochemistry of Disc Degeneration
Among adults aged 79 and older, 96 percent have degenerative disc disease (but the process of age-related degeneration actually begins in young adulthood). Within the ongoing process of disc degeneration, an inflammatory response prompts the release of interleukin and cytokines by the disc’s cells. Next, the release of specific biochemicals travel into the annulus fibrosis, stimulating the pain receptors. Meanwhile, abnormal stresses that occur during disc degeneration reduce the amount of water in the nucleus pulposus, inducing further degeneration of the disc (according to an article in the International Journal of Biological Sciences).
Body Mass Index (BMI) and Vertebral Disc Disorders
A Body Mass Index (BMI) in the clinically-obese range increases the risk of both disc herniation and disk degeneration. According to the Centers for Disease Control, BMI is classified as follows:
- Underweight range: BMI of less than 18.5;
- Within normal range: BMI of 18.5 to less than 25.
- Overweight range: BMI of 25 to less than 30;
- Clinically-obese range: BMI of 30 or higher
Treatment of Annular Disc Tears
Application of a fibrin sealant is one of the minimally-invasive surgical treatments for annular disc tears. The authors of a research article in Pain Medicine found this procedure successful in offering pain relief to patients with disc-related pain.
Among the diverse physicians providing treatment at Florida’s NeuroMicroSpine, Dr. Mark Giovanini (who was featured in a past issue of VIE Magazine) is a specialist in performing minimally-invasive spine (MIS) surgery. Whether you seek treatment with Dr. Geovanini or another NeuroMicroSpine physician at one of our several sites, our overall aim is to aid you in acquiring an improved overall quality of life through pain reduction.
If you have a spine pain, we’d like to help you get relief. For more information on the best treatment for spine pain or to make an appointment with the doctors at NeuroMicroSpine please call (850) 934-7545 or click here to request an appointment. We hope to see you soon!
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.