While degenerative disc disease is a normal deterioration symptom of the body that anyone can face, it is most often found in those aged 40 years and over. However, nowadays lots of office workers get this disease and their numbers are increasing steadily. The reason is that many people working from home incorrectly use the muscles in the neck and plate due to sitting too long in the wrong position.
What are the details? Let's see.
What is degenerative disc disease?
Cervical discs are like soft pillows sandwiched between hard bones. They allow the bones to be flexible and move back and forth. The outer shell of cervical discs is hard while the inside is a soft, jelly-like tissue that can support pressure and shock. If the outer shell is torn, causing a wound with a hole, the tissue inside seeps out. The body's immune system normally heals this on its own in 4-6 weeks. However, during that time the pain can be so severe that it affects daily life. Sufferers should therefore seek treatment to alleviate their symptoms so they can return to their normal life.
Symptoms of degenerative disc disease
Degenerative disc disease most often occurs in the neck and lumbar areas, specifically at the C5 - C6 cervical vertebrae and L4 - L5 lumbar vertebrae. If the condition occurs in the neck area, neck pain radiates down to either or both shoulders, ultimately causing the patient to be unable to move their neck. Occurrence in the lumbar area is indicated by a dull, localized pain at the waist, radiating down to the muscles on the sides of the back and hips. Symptoms of degenerative disc disease include pain down the legs. Some people may experience muscle weakness and numbness in the arms, legs, hands or feet. In severe cases, the condition can affect the digestive system.
Causes of degenerative disc disease
Degenerative disc disease symptoms are related to behaviours and activities.
- Wear and tear from sitting for a long time without changing posture, regularly driving long distances, standing or walking for long periods, and frequent heavy lifting that puts pressure on cervical discs.
- Large body and heavy weight, forcing the cervical disc to support more weight than they are built for. In this case, the cervical discs may deteriorate more quickly.
- Accidents in everyday life or playing sports with hard hitting causing the neck to shake quickly or directly impacting the lumbar spine causing injury to bone and tissue, and others.
Practices to reduce risks
Degenerative disc disease can be cured without surgery. The most important way to reduce the risk of developing the disease is to change daily behaviours and activities such as:
- When doing activities where you have to be in the same position for a long time, take periodic breaks. While you’re working, set a time to get up and move every hour. Switch to an adjustable height desk so you can stand and stretch and work at the same time. When driving, stop at a gas station to stretch.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects.
- Take care of your body and maintain an appropriate weight.
- Do regular physical therapy and exercise to keep your body moving.
Treatment and cost
The most accurate diagnosis of degenerative disc disease is by MRI scan based on cervical disc coloration. Blackness in the cervical disc indicates deterioration. Treatment begins with prescription pain relievers and physical therapy. If this doesn't work, the doctor may prescribe Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection (TESI). If the symptoms are severe to the point of muscle weakness, the doctor may consider surgery which can cost up to 400,000 baht.
Degenerative disc disease is close to us and can arise any time. Therefore, it is important to be prepared to deal with the medical bills that may result. iHealthy Ultra health insurance can be relied on to take care of the cost of surgery as actually paid, so you can have peace of mind.
For more information, please visit https://www.krungthai-axa.co.th/th/ihealthy-ultra
• Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital
• Phyathai Hospital
• Bumrungrad Hospital
• Bangkok Hospital
• Siriraj Piyamaharajkarun Hospital
• Vejthani Hospital