A Pinched nerve and degenerative disc disease cause back pain. The two conditions are different, despite causing similar symptoms. Your doctor may also refer to the cause as a slipped or protruding disc. However, being able to differentiate between the two is ideal. This way, you will receive the most effective treatment.
Pinched Nerve Pain
Nerves run along your spinal cord. The discs in your spine can cause mechanical compression on these nerves. As a result, the nerve root becomes irritated and inflamed. And the intruding disc causes pain. A pinched nerve in your lower back often causes radiating pain. In fact, you can feel this pain running through your foot or leg.
Additional symptoms are numbness, tingling, and weakness, caused by neurological issues, also called radiculopathy. Nerve roots in your lower back (L4 to S3) often become irritated by discs. This irritation is referred to as sciatica.
Pinched nerves are commonly caused by the following conditions:
Degenerative Disc Pain
Degenerative disc disease back pain is pain caused by an intervertebral disc. Spinal discs can degenerate from wear and tear or trauma. Therefore, pain is caused by the following mechanisms:
Inflammation: Inflammatory proteins are released as a disc degenerates. Degenerated discs can also herniate. Inflammation irritates nearby nerves, causing pain.
Shrinkage: Degeneration can cause dehydration. As the disc loses fluid, it shrinks. Shrinking discs can narrow the spinal canal. The result is radiculopathy.
Motion segment instability: When discs degenerate, spinal segments can become unstable. Therefore, they are not as effective in resisting spinal movement.
Your body naturally tries to counteract inflammation and instability. This can cause muscles to spasm and worsened back pain. Additionally, it can be localized or radiate to your leg.
Focus on the Cause
It’s tempting to focus on pain relief, but you need to do more. Focus on the cause of your pain instead. This offers the best chance of finding effective and long-term treatment.
Your doctor should evaluate your symptoms and conduct diagnostic tests. This will confirm the exact cause, and then a treatment plan will be developed.