Internal disc derangement signs symptoms & causes

Written by samantha kiemele
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Internal disc derangement signs symptoms & causes
Your back pain could be a symptom of internal disk derangement. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Internal disk derangement, or IDD, is characterised by severe lower back pain. Many conditions cause spinal and neck pain, however, sometimes leading to a misdiagnosis, such as disk herniation, instead of IDD. Learning about its symptoms and causes will boost the knowledge of IDD patients and their families, and promote broader awareness of the condition.

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The lack of visible signs often leads to misdiagnosis. As the Mount Prospect Health Center's website explains, the disk in question appears normal externally. However, with a closer look, IDD presents itself through small tears or deformed shape of the disk. While a disk herniation causes compression on the nerve root, IDD does not damage the nerve root.


Symptoms of internal disk derangement typically include severe chronic back pain, most commonly in the lower region. According to the Central Florida Spine Joint & Muscle Center, patients may also experience neck pain. Range of motion can become limited, with antalgia -- a spasm that's the body's natural compensation for pain -- often present. Symptoms become more severe during activities that cause more pressure to the disk, such as sitting, bending or lifting heavy objects. Sometimes pain can be more prevalent when waking up in the morning.


Causes of internal disk derangement might not be easily diagnosed. The NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital identifies torn or stretched ligaments as a common cause of IDD, but daily strain on the neck and spine -- such as poor posture or sitting at a computer all day -- can cause a gradual onset of the condition. Past trauma or accidents in the patient's history can also explain pain associated with IDD.


Even though internal disk derangement often starts as a minor condition, if left untreated, its severity can increase and cause major injuries to the body. Diagnostic testing such as magnetic resonance imaging and X-ray exams help doctors diagnose the condition. Treatments include physiotherapy techniques and exercises. In advanced cases, medicated injections or surgery treat the condition.

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