Spinal Hygiene

Medical Evaluations for Degenerative Disc Disease


It can be difficult to diagnose degenerative disc disease (DDD) because it grows gradually and can pose many associated problems (spinal stenosis, herniated disc, etc.). For example, your doctor may be able to rapidly diagnose you for having a herniated disc, but it is more challenging to diagnose a herniated disc due to degenerative disc disease.

If you have back or neck pain that comes on suddenly, or in the event, you have pain that persists, call a doctor who will refer you to a spine specialist. Your healthcare specialist will try to discover the reason for your pain so that he or she can develop an accurate treatment plan for you—a method to manage your pain and other symptoms of the degenerative disc disease and also that will help you recover.

As he/she works toward a diagnosis, your spinal specialist will ask about your present symptoms and what treatments you’ve already attempted.

Common Medical Degenerative Disc Disease Questions

  • When did the back or neck pain begin?
  • What activities did you lately do?
  • What have you done for your pain?
  • Does the pain go or radiate to other areas of your body?
  • Does anything lessen the pain or allow it to be worse?

Neurological and physical exams will also be performed by the healthcare professional. In the physical exam, she or he will notice your position, range of motion (how well and how much you can transfer specific joints), and physical state, noting any movement that triggers your pain. They will also feel for muscle spasms, notice alignment, and curvature, and feel your back.

During the neurological exam, he or she will test your reflexes, muscle strength, other nerve changes, and pain spread (that is—does your pain travel from your back and into other parts of the body?). As it can impact your nerves or even your spinal cord, the neurological exam is especially significant in degenerative disk disease.

You may require to get some imaging tests to diagnose degenerative disk disorder. You could have an x-ray, which can help your healthcare specialist “see” the bones in your spine. X-rays reveal narrowed spinal stations (spinal stenosis), fractures, bone spurs (osteophytes), or osteoarthritis. Your spinal specialist may refer to these as “basic films.” By that, she or he means you will have several normal x-ray viewpoints done. You’ll have one chosen from the side, called a lateral view. You will also provide a “straight on” shot, which can be done in the front or the back. An x-ray shot from the front is an anteroposterior (AP) view; from the back, it’s called a posteroanterior (PA) view. On the plain pictures, your spine specialist will try to find a break, scoliosis, and vertebral alignment —other spinal problems that can come with DDD.

Your healthcare professional may also order flexion and extension x-rays to assess the stability of your back as well as your range of movement (how well your joints move). You’ll be requested to bend forward (flexion) and backward (extension) during these x-rays.

A computerized tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test may be demanded. These evaluations are more effective than x-rays at showing the soft tissues in your back and can help identify issues such as bulging or herniated discs. A CT scan is useful because it’s easier to begin to see the bones and nerves on it; therefore, if a bone spur is pressing on a nerve, the surgeon can easily spot it.

In case the medical specialist suspects nerve damage from degenerative changes in your spinal column, he or she may order a special test called an electromyography (EMG) to measure how fast your nerves respond.

Additional medical evaluations can be required to make a degenerative disk disorder identification.

  • Bone scan: To assist your surgeon to find spinal difficulties, for example, osteoarthritis, fractures, or illnesses (which could all be related to DDD), you may have a bone scan. You’ll possess a rather small number of radioactive material injected into a blood vessel. Your bones will go through your bloodstream and absorb that. An area with unusual activity, including inflammation, will absorb more radioactive material. A scanner can discover the amount of radiation in all your bones and show the “hot spots” (the places with more radioactive material) to help your surgeon figure out where the problem is.
  • Discogram or discography: This is really a process that confirms or denies the disc(s) as the way to obtain your pain. You will possess a harmless dye injected into your disks. When there is an issue together with your disk—like the herniated, it’s —the dye will leak from the disk. The surgeon will likely be capable of seeing that on an x-ray, revealing to him/her that something is wrong with your disc.
  • Myelogram: To see for those with a spinal canal or spinal cord disorder—perhaps nerve compression causing weakness and pain —you might possess a myelogram. In this evaluation, you’ll have a unique dye injected into the area around your spinal cord and nerves. (Before that happens, the region is going to be numbed.) Then you’ll have an x-ray or a CT scan. The image will give a thorough anatomic picture of your spine, notably of the bones, that’ll help your spine surgeon to recognize any abnormalities.

Additional Topics: Whole Body Wellness

Maintaining overall health and wellness through balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, and proper sleep is essential for your whole body’s well-being. While these are some of the most important contributing factors to staying healthy, seeking care and preventing injuries or developing conditions through natural alternatives can also guarantee overall health and wellness. Chiropractic medical care is a safe and effective medical treatment option utilized by many individuals to ensure whole-body wellness.


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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Medical Evaluations for Degenerative Disc Disease" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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