Disc (Discogenic) Pain

Discogenic pain is described as pain generating from the intervertebral discs, or the “cushions” that are found between the vertebrae and help protect the spine, when they have become injured or develop some kind of problem.


Although this pain is not limited to the lower back, as any of the discs along the spine can become injured, causing pain anywhere from the neck down to the lower back, discogenic pain is usually associated with lower back pain.


Symptoms of Disc (Discogenic) Pain


Symptoms for discogenic pain can begin seemingly out of nowhere or after an obvious strain, such as lifting a heavy object or a road traffic accident. This pain could become worse when bending over or simply sitting up.


You might find it painful to change positions in bed or even getting out of bed. Because the intervertebral discs are also associated with the nerves that travel through the lower part of the body, you might also experience pain down the leg, as far down as the foot, including numbness or weakness of muscles.


Causes of Disc (Discogenic) Pain


Discogenic pain can appear for a variety of reasons. It could be something simple such as a light strain or injury, in which case the pain should subside in a matter of days. In other cases, however, it could be a sign of something more important.


A slipped disc is a common cause, in which the soft gel-like centre of the disc pushes through the strong fibrous outer coat, which presses on the spinal cord or a nearby nerve. It could also be a matter of disc degeneration, in which the strong fibrous outer coat weakens and tears, forcing the centre to lose some of its water, which helps the disc act as a sponge-like “shock absorber.”


Diagnosis of Disc (Discogenic) Pain


Because lighter cases of discogenic pain may sort themselves out in a manner of days, it’s not usually recommended to seek the advice of a doctor unless the pain persists longer than a week.


Of course, there are a number of red flags that would make seeing your doctor a wise choice, including if the pain is constant and intensifies over time or the pain is the result of a recent violent injury. Diagnosis is very easy thanks to a CT scan or an MRI, which will not only show the status of the bones of the affected area, but the soft tissue, including the intervertebral discs, as well.


Treatment of Disc (Discogenic) Pain


Treatment will depend on the severity of the problem. Lighter cases may only need limited rest and light pain medication, such as Paracetemol or Ibuprofen, until the pain subsides. Your doctor may suggest you see physiotherapist or an osteopath, who can rehabilitate the affected area.


For the most severe cases, injections or even surgery may be necessary. Injections are generally done to help with pain management, while surgery can be done to help reduce the swelling of a damaged disc.


Discogenic pain can appear for a variety of reasons, but don’t let the prospect of surgery scare you away from getting relief from the pain. If you suspect you’re suffering from discogenic pain, contact your physician and start on the path of healing.