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Juvenile Discogenic Disorder, also called juvenile disc disorder, is a problem that can develop at a young age and usually leads to pain experienced in the lower back. While this disorder may share some of the similarities associated with disc degeneration in older patients, where issues are seen in one or two discs, those with juvenile disc disorder usually exhibit degeneration in all or most of their lumbar discs.
Juvenile Discogenic Disorder Basic Anatomy
Juvenile disc disorder (JDD) occurs when the end plates of the vertebrae are too weak to withstand the pressure inside the disc spaces. The end plates found at the top and bottom of each vertebrae attach to the disc that is located between each vertebrae. Weakness of the vertebrae’s end plates allow some of the disc cartilage to protrude into the end plate, and possibly into the vertebrae, where the protrusions are referred to as Schmorl’s nodes.
Juvenile Discogenic Disorder Causes
JDD’s degenerative changes have been attributed to numerous factors, such as repetitive micro-trauma from athletic activities, heavy backpacks, obesity, genetics, smoking, or environmental risks. Treatment data indicates that more than 70% of those with JDD are male, and the lower lumbar spine most commonly affected are at the L5-S1 level.
JDD Signs and Symptoms
Complaints of pain in the back and neck are common with JDD. Pain may be experienced at one or all of the impacted sites of disc damage. Some of the other common signs of juvenile disc disorder are:
• Pain radiates to other areas
• Pain complaints increase when twisting, bending over, or picking up heavy items
• Changing body positions often eases the pain
• Pain subsides with rest
• Pain increases after long periods of sitting
• Walking may help to ease the pain
Juvenile Discogenic Disorder Treatment
Treatment may include a variety of options. Those with JDD do not need to restrict their physical activities or participation in sports unless it causes them pain. A balanced exercise program is often effective and part of the orthopaedic treatment plan. Often, those with a higher incidence of pain is related to becoming inactive, deconditioned and weaker. Your pediatric orthopaedic specialist may prescribe or recommend any of the following to your child’s individualized plan:
• Targeted exercises, including physical therapy
• Education in body mechanics, movements, and postures to avoid pain
• Exercise program that includes stretches, strength training, aerobic conditioning
• Application of ice or cold packs at specific times
• Use of hot packs or heating pads as directed
• TENS unit
• Epidural steroid injections
• Bio-feedback or other alternative measures
Juvenile Discogenic Disorder Specialty Care
The Pediatric Spine Team at Pediatric Orthopaedic Associates provide comprehensive complex spine care and treatment for infants to young adults. If your child is experiencing pain, the reason or cause needs to be professionally addressed as soon as possible. Call for an appointment where your child’s needs can be expertly evaluated and treated.