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A diagnosis of degenerative disc disease starts with an extensive medical history. This will include questions about:

– symptoms (past and present)

– the pattern of change in those symptoms

– past injuries or illnesses

– treatment or intervention for past illnesses and injuries

– descriptions of current and past activities

During the course of the examination; the doctor will test for range of motio; and look for areas up and down the spine that are tender or that are exhibiting nerve-related damage.

There will also be an assessment of sensations in other areas of the body to detect the presence of:

– tingling or a “pins and needles” feeling

– any numbness that may be present

– weaknesses and diminished reflexes

Other conditions like infections, tumors, fractures, strains; and muscle injuries will be ruled out, often by the use of imaging tests including X-rays and MRIs.

When a determination of degenerative disc disease is made, courses of treatment and intervention will be discussed.

Strategies to cope with disc disease always begin with a conservative approach.

It’s important to remember that flare-ups of disc pain are highly episodic; and heavily influenced by the presence of inflammation in the body. Early treatment will focus on coping strategies; and pain relief with an eye toward behaviour modification and exercise to prevent future incidents.

Only in rarely and unusually severe cases is surgery recommended for degenerative disc disease; and then only after all other avenues have been fully explored.

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