Discogenic Back Pain

Discogenic Pain is pain that originates from damage to the intervertebral discs. It is part of the process of Degenerative Disc Disease, however not all degenerative discs cause pain.

How the disc causes pain

Each intervertebral disc is made up of two sections; the Nucleus Pulposus, which is the gel like interior and the Annulus Fibrosis, which is the outer ring of the disc. The Nucleus Pulposus lacks a nerve supply however the Annulus Fibrosis does have a nerve supply. This means that when the Annulus Fibrosis develops tears or cracks generally this will start to cause pain. In a healthy adult disc the nerve supply is only present on the outer layer of the disc however as the disc develops tears and cracks the nerve supply grows deeper into the disc allowing them to transit stronger pain signals to the brain.

Discogenic Pain is therefore pain that is caused by stimulation of the pain sensitive nerves within the annulus fibrosis or deeper structures if the condition is more severe.

What is the cause?

  • The natural ageing process
  • An injury that causes damage to the edge of the disc
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Periods of under activity(sitting) followed by periods of over activity (eg weight lifting)

Signs & Symptoms

There can be any combination of the following:

  • General lower back ache
  • Feeling stiff in the lower back
  • Symptoms that are intermittent (can get better or worse, rather than staying constant)
  • Poor sitting tolerance
  • Directional preference(leaning forward or back)
  • Can be aggravated by sitting, walking, standing, twisting or bending

What can we do about it?

Physiotherapy will aim to identify the cause of your back pain and treat with a combination of hands on therapy and specific relieving exercises.