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Spine Surgery Guide

Discogenic Back Pain

Discogenic pain is a condition in which the discomfort comes from the actual intervertebral discs.
Spinal discs do not have any nerves or blood vessels, so how can they possibly cause pain? The answer is theoretical, but may be a possible solution for some unresolved back pain conditions.

Causes of Disc Pain

There are 2 primary causes of what might be considered discogenic pain, as well as other contributing factors.

The background contributing factors include degenerative disc disease (DDD) and herniated discs. DDD causes the discs to dehydrate and lose height. This is a normal part of the aging process and there is considerable debate whether the condition is symptomatic at all. Regardless, the drying out of the disc provides an increased chance for the outer wall to rupture. Herniated discs occur when the disc bulges from pressure that is applied to the outer fibrous disc wall.

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This pressure might also cause a rupture in the disc wall. If the disc wall is ruptured, there is a good chance that the nucleus of the disc will leak out. This material is made of a protein that is believed to be an irritant to surrounding nerve tissue.

The protein will be absorbed by the body slowly, over several years. This is the speculative reason why some disc pain goes away after a number of years. The protein is absorbed and the disc extrusion will calcify. Realistically, this is not true discogenic pain, since the pain is caused by chemical radiculitis and not experienced by the disc itself.
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Recommendation for Discogenic Pain

Most disc pain can be successfully treated with pain management drugs, epidural injections or some form of natural pain relief.

As always, using drugs is less desirable than holistic medicine practices, due to the considerable dangers of prescription medications. Back surgery is sometimes considered, but should always be a final option. There are far too many risks involved in spinal surgery to warrant these procedures for anything short of a necessity. The good news is that most discogenic pain goes away all by itself. “Time heals all wounds” is the old saying, and in the case of disc pain, it is usually the truth.
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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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