Understanding Disc Desiccation

Disc Desiccation Radiology: What Is It?

The term “disc desiccation” refers to the process of drying out of a disc. A normal healthy disc has a thin outer layer called the annulus fibrosus (see image). The annulus fibrosus is made up of many tiny blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to the inner part of the annulus fibrosus. When the annulus fibrosus gets damaged or becomes damaged, it causes pain. The blood vessels are unable to provide enough nutrition and oxygen to the inner part of the annulus fibrosus. If this happens often, then eventually the annulus fibrosus will become completely dry and lose its elasticity. This condition is known as disc herniation (see image).

What Are The Symptoms Of Disc Herniation?

Symptoms of disc herniation include:

Pain in one or both legs. Pain may be worse when standing or walking. Sometimes there is swelling and bruising around the area where the leg was injured. There may also be bleeding from the affected area.

When lying down, pain may improve. When walking, the pain may worsen.

Numbness in the area of the injured leg.

In severe cases, there may be an inability to walk or loss of bowel or bladder control.

How Is Disc Herniation Treated?

There are several ways to treat disc herniation. Your doctor will recommend a treatment based on your specific situation.

Lifestyle changes

In some cases, making changes to your daily activities can make a significant difference. Your doctor may recommend avoiding high impact exercises or sports. Running is an example of a high impact exercise. In addition, you may be told to sleep with several pillows to take the pressure off the painful areas.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can help strengthen and stretch the muscles that are causing your lower back pain, and other leg pains caused by disc herniation.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can help relieve pain and reduce swelling.

Injection therapy

Your doctor may inject a local anesthetic combined with a corticosteroid into the painful area in your back. This injection helps to reduce irritation of nerve roots and swelling around the disc. If the injection is effective, you should begin to feel better within a few days. However, the effects of the injection may wear off over time.

Multiple injections may be necessary.


In some cases, surgery is necessary to remove part or all of the herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve. Surgery may also be necessary to repair damaged vertebrae in your spine if bone fragments from the damaged disc have broken off and penetrated the spinal canal and are causing pressure on the spinal cord.

Risks Of Surgery

In addition to the general risks of surgery, certain risks are associated specifically with this procedure. These include but are not limited to:

Nerve damage


Additional pain at the site of the surgery

Slower recovery time

It is important to discuss these risks in detail with your surgeon before determining if surgery is the right option for you.

What Is The Long-Term Outlook?

If you have surgery to remove herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve, your long-term outlook is generally good. There are no restrictions on your activities following surgery.

However, if you do not have surgery but continue to experience leg pain and weakness, then your ability to participate in certain physical activities such as running will be significantly limited.

Because the long-term outlook for non-surgical treatment of a herniated disc is less certain, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of both treatment options with your doctor before making a final decision.

What Are The Costs Of Treatment?

The costs of treatment vary depending on the type of treatment you choose. Costs could include costs for diagnostic tests, doctor’s fees, emergency room visit fees, medication, physical therapy and surgery.

If you have health insurance, you will most likely be able to use your health insurance to pay for most of these costs.

If you have health insurance, when exactly the health insurance company has to pay out depends on whether your policy requires you to pay a deductible before it begins paying for your medical care or whether it begins paying for your care automatically.

If you do not have health insurance, you will be able to purchase health insurance through the government-sponsored website, Healthcare.gov.

The cost of health insurance depends on your age, income, location and whether or not you smoke. However, due to subsidies that depend on your income and tax penalties for not having health insurance, the price of health insurance is significantly reduced.

When comparing the costs of treatment at different medical facilities, you should factor in all these expenses.

How Can I Pay For My Surgery?

The cost of your surgery will vary depending on your surgeon, the type of procedure you need and the medical facility where the procedure is performed. Usually, the surgeon advises you on how much you must pay towards the cost of surgery. The amount can range from nothing to thousands of dollars.

The amount that you pay may depend on a few factors such as your income, whether you have health insurance, etc. Some surgeons offer payment plans, which may require you to pay a certain amount upfront and the remainer gradually over time.

In any case, you should discuss the financial implications of your surgery with the surgeon and other healthcare providers before moving forward with treatment.

What Should I Look For In A Surgeon And A Medical Facility?

The type of surgeon you select and the medical facility where the surgery is performed can have a direct impact on your safety and the effectiveness of your treatment. While all surgeons are required to complete a medical residency and pass a licensing examination to practice medicine, not all surgeons are equal.

Sources & references used in this article:

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Desiccation diagnosis in lumbar discs from clinical MRI with a probabilistic model by A Raja’S, JJ Corso, V Chaudhary… – 2009 IEEE International …, 2009 – ieeexplore.ieee.org

Lumbar disc degeneration: epidemiology and genetics by MC Battié, T Videman – JBJS, 2006 – journals.lww.com

Understanding desiccation tolerance using the resurrection plant Boea hygrometrica as a model system by J Mitra, G Xu, B Wang, M Li, X Deng – Frontiers in plant science, 2013 – frontiersin.org

Understanding the molecular biology of intervertebral disc degeneration and potential gene therapy strategies for regeneration: a review by P Sampara, RR Banala, SK Vemuri, GR AV… – Gene therapy, 2018 – nature.com

The molecular basis of intervertebral disc degeneration by CK Kepler, RK Ponnappan, CA Tannoury, MV Risbud… – The Spine Journal, 2013 – Elsevier