Most of us my age, and even a decade younger, if somebody were to do a CAT scan or an MRI, the doctors are going to come back and say, "You've got degenerative disc disease." And you can have it without even knowing that you've got a problem. It's just part of getting older, it's part of wear and tear. All of us have it. But it's almost, for most of us at least, what's called asymptomatic, meaning we're not having any pain, we're not having any symptoms from it.
But if it begins to demonstrate symptoms, there can be a number of reasons for that. It can be because there's a breakdown in the structures of the discs that needs surgical care or some sort of medical interventions. And you can have back pain that's completely separate from a degenerative condition. You can have it from an infection that's occurred to the spine, which is very serious. Meningitis in the neck area, and abscess in the mid back or low back area, those can be very serious problems if they begin to compress on the spinal cord.
Because if you begin having compression what typically will exist is you'll begin having numbness and tingling into the arms or into the legs, depending on where it's at. And that numbness and tingling, that's the sensory nerves that are firing off. And then if you also begin to have weakness into those extremities, that's the motor function nerves that are beginning to fire off, or having some sort of level of disruption. And when that's occurring, if there's pressure being there from a clot, or pressure being from a blood build up, or pressure being from infectious process occurring, again what doctors call compression, there is a window of time where interventions can save that area of that body from permanent nerve damage.
And then if it gets to the point where all of a sudden you can't move anymore, let's say you can't move your legs at all. You wake up, you've been having problems for awhile, you've ignored them. And now you can't move your legs. Then your window of time is down to hours, not days. Eight to ten hours to actually have a doctor emergently go in and decompress whatever it is that's causing that pressure on the spine.
Things to look out for even when you have not been involved in a trauma of some type, infection, blood build up in the spine, clot on the spine. Anything that's causing different neurological symptoms of either the motor nerve which demonstrates with weakness or the sensory nerve which demonstrates with numbness and tingling.