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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.