The disks in your spine are rubbery cushions between the bones in your spinal column. These bones are known as vertebrae. These discs act as shock absorbers. As you move, bend or twist, your discs enable you to do that comfortably. When they are healthy, discs act as a structural cushion to help distribute shocks and pressures to your spine evenly.
The biomechanical ability to cushion shocks and pressures is enabled by a disc’s ability to absorb and retain water. Water within the disc generates a swelling pressure that resists loads and maintains the height of the disc.
After the age of 40, our discs can begin to degenerate. Wear and tear of our intervertebral disks causes a loss of hydration – the ability we’ve discussed to absorb and retain water – along with degeneration of the discs themselves.
For many, as this degeneration occurs, we don’t develop any symptoms. But for about 5% of us, this disc degeneration prevents discs from doing their job properly and it leads to back pain.
Managing and Treating Degenerative Disk Disease
There are noninvasive treatment options available for degenerative disc disease, such as physical therapy, medications, steroid injections, or radiofrequency neurotomies. But until recently, when these alternatives weren’t sufficient, major surgery was the only other option.
A new nonsurgical option is now available. It is called VIA Disc and it is designed to rebuild damaged discs biologically. It is intended as an allograft. An “allograft” is a tissue graft. The treatment is designed to help a disc regain and preserve its ability to absorb water and repair disc damage.
What do we mean about rebuilding discs biologically? The human body has the natural ability to heal itself in many ways. Cuts to the skin repair themselves, broken bones mend and a living-donor’s liver regenerates in a few weeks.
Regenerative medicine includes therapies that support the body in repairing, regenerating and restoring itself – taking our natural healing ability and helping it along. These therapies prompt the body to enact a self-healing response.
Popular uses of regenerative medicine today include treatments from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Leukemia to Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, and many other conditions in between. You may have also heard it referred to as stem cell therapy. When regenerative medicine is used to help heal musculoskeletal conditions it is also commonly referred to as orthobiologic medicine.
VIA Disc is an orthobiologic regenerative therapy that seeks to reverse the age-related wear and tear of intervertebral discs – along with the degeneration and loss of hydration that results with this deterioration.
This treatment uses biologic growth factors and cytokines extracted from intervertebral discs that are enhanced with additional solutions to promote this therapy’s effectiveness. During an outpatient, non-surgical procedure, this mixture is injected into the damaged disc. The strategy behind it is that by supplementing disc tissue, it seeks to enhance the biomechanics of the damaged disc and overcome the loading imbalance that has resulted from degenerative tissue loss.
In more simple terms, the ability of a disc to cushion is regained. And its deterioration is halted and reversed. And with that, associated pain is reduced.
Would this treatment promising for your degenerative disc pain? The first step in determining if it might be effective for you is to make an appointment with your Main Line Spine doctor.