According to research, 40% of all serious spine pain cases are associated with a problem to one or more intervertebral discs. In most cases, if a patient is experiencing a chronic neck or lower back pain and is not being diagnosed with disc herniation, the patient may have discogenic pain.
Discogenic pain mostly occurs in connection to disc degeneration, a disease that causes the disc to slowly deteriorate.
In this article, our pain management doctor will further discuss the causes, symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment of discogenic pain.
When the nerve receptors in the outer portion of the annulus are irritated discogenic pain occurs. An inflammation or several conditions of the disc usually causes the nerve receptors to be irritated, which results in the neck or lower back pain.
Internal disc disruption (IDD) is a type of discogenic disorder, which occurs when disc tears or cracks occur in order to make it possible for the nucleus and annulus to meet. Due to this, a chemical, called proteoglycans, may be released causing inflammation and pain.
Genetics may also play a role in obtaining discogenic pain. Some genetic impulses may change the chemical structure of the discs and may stimulate metabolic changes in the body. As a result, the disc may deteriorate faster than normal.
Aside from disc condition and genetics, discogenic pain can also be caused by mechanical and nutritional factors.
Discogenic pain is typically associated with activities that may increase the pressure in the intervertebral disc causing the pain to worsen. Activities that may increase the pain include:
Most people affected by discogenic pain are middle-aged and elderly people. Younger generations don’t often experience this kind of condition because they have an ample amount of liquid in their discs.
The use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MIR) is a way to diagnose discogenic pain. Discograms are also used to confirm the source of pain. During the procedure, a contrast dye is injected into the suspected disc to make it visible under fluoroscopy. This allows the doctor to see the exact size of the disc. But, since the injected dye adds more pressure to the disc it may produce more pain in the area.
A non-invasive diagnostic method, called McKenzie Method, can also be used for diagnosis. The process involves a manual examination to help lessen the pain and increase the range of motion. This method is also used as a treatment method.
In some cases, discogenic pain may heal on its own, or the pain may also be persistent. Conservative treatment is often the first option to manage pain. A patient may use anti-inflammatory drugs, ice or heat therapy, and physical therapy. Physical therapy sessions may be centered around back exercises or spinal traction. Some types of injectable therapy may also help reduce pain. These include:
Intradiscal therapy, also known as intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET), is a minimally invasive technique. The procedure helps heat up the disc area, so the nerve endings die. Once the nerve endings die, the patient no longer feels the pain. Intradiscal therapy went through small studies in June 2010. The results of which show that it is good, research shows that most people experience significant pain relief with few side effects.
If you are experiencing discogenic pain for more than three months it is important to visit your doctor or a pain management clinic. They will guide you through all the treatment options available for managing pain.
Dr. Luis Escobar is a leading provider of interventional pain management. Dr. Escobar is board certified by the American Board of Anesthesia, the American Board of Pain Management, and has been an expert in the field for over fifteen years. Dr. Escobar works diligently with his patients to treat the source of pain so you can get back to the things you love in life.
Dr. Lucien C. Alexandre, MD Ph.D., is a triple board-certified interventional pain doctor and neurologist. He specializes in interventional pain medicine, interventional headaches, and neurology. His extensive academic experience and professional training at some of the world’s most prestigious medical institutions have made him an expert in the field of interventional pain medicine and neurological disorders.
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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.