Discogenic pain is the most common type of low back pain. Discogenic pain is pain that comes from the disc. When we talk about the disc a lot of the time people immediately think of disc herniations and disc bulges. While these types of findings may be related to discogenic pain, they are not one and the same. While discogenic pain may happen with a disc bulge or a disc herniation, it does not have to. Furthermore, disc herniations and disc bulges can cause nerve root irritation (radiculopathy) which are often the reason that people have pain when they have those types of injuries.
What is discogenic pain?
Discogenic pain is literally pain that comes from the disc. There are two parts to the disc. There is the inner part called the nucleus pulposus and the outer part, which surrounds the inner part, called the annulus fibrosus. The inner part (nucleus) is the weight bearing part of the disc. It is meant to bear the weight of the body. The outside of the disc (annulus) does not bear very much weight. Furthermore, the inner part (nucleus) does not have any nerves so it does not feel pain. On the other hand, the outer part of the disc (annulus) does have nerve endings and can feel pain. With discogenic pain, it is theorized that the inner part of the disc (nucleus) begins to push into and merge with the outer part of the disc (annulus). This causes irritation of the outer part which has nerves and also redistributes the weight so there is now weight on the outer part as well. All of this irritation causes inflammation which is likely the source of discogenic pain.
What helps with discogenic pain?
There are specific exercises that can be taught to help with discogenic pain. Those exercises should be taught by a trained professional. In addition, stretching the disc out through the use of flexion/distraction with traction can also be effective. Treatment usually focuses on desensitizing the area and helping the disc to heal.