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definition, diagram, types, is it serious?

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Lumbar, cervical, degenerative… Discopathy is a disease affecting the spinal discs. Explanations and advice with Dr. Jacques Amselem, general practitioner.

Discopathies include diseases affecting the intervertebral discs. We distinguish two shapes main causes of discopathy: degenerative disc disease due to tissue degeneration and traumatic disc disease. That’s when she becomes painful that we are looking for causes and his treatments.

What is the definition of discopathy?

There discopathy is a disease of intervertebral discpositioned between the vertebrae of the spine (numbered L1 to L5). This disc provides mobility between two vertebrae and play a natural role of shock absorber. In case of discopathy, it becomes less flexible and absorbs shocks less well, which creates small traumas and leads to pains. Discopathy is not not “serious” in his prognosis but it can be painful and negatively impact the daily lives of patients.

What are the different types of disc disease?

According to the damaged disc, we are talking about:

  • lumbar disc disease (located on the lumbar).

What are the causes of disc disease?

Discopathy can be linked to tissue degeneration, which is the most common. This is called “degenerative disc disease”. Among the causes of degenerative disc disease, natural aging but also :

  • therevertebral osteoarthritis or “discarthrosis”: a very frequent pathology due to the daily mechanical stresses that the spine undergoes, and strongly correlated with age
  • I’osteoporosis
  • osteophytes (bony growths that surround a joint)

Discopathy can also have a traumatic origin when it occurs because of a herniated disc (projection of a portion of the intervertebral disc outside its housing).

What are the symptoms of disc disease?

Discopathy is responsible for neck or back pain, depending on the affected vertebral level. “In some cases, it can turn into a herniated disc and lead to compression of the nerve roots. It then translates into manifestations such as sciatica (lower limb) or cervico-brachial neuralgia (upper limb)“, explains Dr. Jacques Amselem, general practitioner. “It causes pain and decreased sensitivity or some tingling in the legswhich can be associated with a decreased muscle strength.” Some patients may also experience stiffness in the spine.

Diagram of intervertebral disc diseases (discopathy) © 123rf/JournalDesFemmes

What are the tests for diagnosing disc disease?

An X-ray assessment of the spine and sometimes even a to scan even a MRI will generally make it possible to highlight damage to the disc(s) in question.

What is the treatment for disc disease?

The goal of treatment is to relieve pain because the intervertebral discs never regain their original appearance. The doctor can prescribe painkillers or anti-inflammatories. Physiotherapy rehabilitation sessions also improve pain. I’physical activity should be maintained as much as possible. The risk is a transition to the chronicity of the pain.

Thanks to Dr Jacques Amselem, general practitioner in Seine-et-Marne.

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