The Link Between Tingly Fingers and Degenerative Disc Disease

The Link Between Tingly Fingers and Degenerative Disc Disease

The discs that make up your spine are vulnerable to wear and tear as you age. In fact, most people have some signs of spinal degeneration by age 50. Degenerative disc disease refers to a condition where damaged intervertebral discs cause symptoms like pain and numbness. When nerves are involved, these symptoms can affect your hands and fingers. 

Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Thomas Jones II, MD, and our team at The Spine Institute of Southeast Texas have extensive experience providing comprehensive, top-quality care for patients with chronic spine conditions, including degenerative disc disease. If you're having pain or numbness, it's wise to consult with an orthopedic physician for a thorough evaluation.

Degenerative disc disease explained

Intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers situated between the bones of your spine. They provide cushion so that you can flex and move with ease. The discs are made of a tough outer layer that contains a rich supply of nerves and a jelly-like inner core. 

As you age, the discs may undergo changes such as drying or cracking, which causes the inner core to leak out or become displaced. Because intervertebral discs have a limited blood supply, they aren't able to repair themselves like other tissues in your body.

Common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include pain that:

Other symptoms many people have are numbness and tingling in the hands, fingers, legs or feet. 

The pain and abnormal sensations are often linked to degenerative disc disease caused by an injury or age-related wear and tear.

Nerve involvement in spinal degeneration

Tingling or numbness in the arm and fingers is a sign of nerve involvement. Sometimes a displaced disc pinches or compresses the nerves that lead to your hands and arms. When this happens, you may experience abnormal sensations in your hands and fingers, such as burning, tingling, and numbness. 

Sometimes discs shrink in height, and this can lead to irritation of nearby nerves, too, causing the same kinds of symptoms.

Degenerative disc disease treatment

Our treatment for degenerative disc disease typically starts with nonsurgical therapies such as steroid injections, over-the-counter pain medication, and massage therapy. In many cases a combination of nonsurgical treatments is effective at managing pain and providing some relief.

If nonsurgical approaches don’t help, Dr. Jones discusses minimally invasive spine surgery. The particular procedure recommended for you will depend on the nature of your degenerative disc disease. 

For example, removing a bad disc that is compressing the nerve provides significant relief. This procedure is called a discectomy, which involves removing the damaged part of the disc to relieve pressure on the affected nerve.

In cases where a disc has slipped, Dr. Jones may recommend a spinal fusion with discectomy. This is often when the neck/cervical spine is affected rather than the lower back. Spinal fusion with discectomy involves removing the damaged disc and permanently joining the vertebra above and below it.

Degenerative disc disease is a treatable condition, and with the right approach you can achieve relief so you can have a better quality of life. If you're experiencing back pain or tingling in your extremities, schedule a visit with Dr. Jones here at the Spine Institute of Southeast Texas.

We have offices in Pearland and Lake Jackson. Call the nearest office and speak with one of our knowledgeable team members to schedule your initial consultation. We look forward to helping you feel better.

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