Discogenic pain accounts for 40% chronic painful conditions of the spine.
What is discogenic pain?
Discogenic pain, as the name indicates, is the pain involving the vertebral disc. A damaged vertebral disc is the leading cause of the discogenic pain, mainly due to degenerative disc disease. However, not all worsened discs cause severe pain. Discs degenerate naturally with age. In disc degeneration, the chemical and physical properties of the disc start to deteriorate slowly.
- Discogenic pain occurs when the nerve receptors are found in the outer part of the annulus are irritated due to inflammation of the nerve discs or any other cause. For example, if the provocative chemicals from an annular tear reach the nerves in the outer part of the annulus, discogenic may be caused by a tear. This type of wound is known as internal disc disruption or IDD
- Genetics plays a vital role in the development of discogenic pain by altering the chemical composition of discs. Consequently, the discs dry out faster than normal rate, reducing their capability of bearing the spinal load evenly. Then, everyday wear and tear puts pressure on one or a few small areas in the disc, which increases the risk of an annular tear.
- Nutritional and Mechanical factors may also cause discogenic pain.
- Discogenic pain mainly presents with achy pain that does not refer to your arm or leg. The pain is also not associated with a decreased ability to use your limbs.
- Discogenic pain worsens with the compression of the spine. Aggravating factors for pain include sitting, bending, and sneezing while lying down, relieves it. You may feel pain or paresthesia in the back of the thigh or buttock but not the lower leg.
- In the neck, the pain might be felt when you tilt your neck and might worsen upon holding the neck in position for long.
- Discogenic pain usually comes and goes from time to time, and every time it subsides on its own. Initially, the pain is managed conservatively with anti-inflammatory products, ice, and heat. Physical therapy in the form of exercises and traction is also used.
- Surgery is usually not required for the management of discogenic pain. However, in case of devastating pain for three months or longer and/or have spinal variability, surgery may be an option. Consult your doctor!
- IDET (Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy) is a minimally invasive surgery that has shown proven benefits for discogenic pain.