Very few health conditions are as wide-ranging as degenerative disc disease, a condition that can cause everything from back and neck pain to radiating arm and leg pain. And, while treatment options exist—ranging from non-surgical methods such as physical therapy and medication to surgical procedures like spinal fusion or a discectomy—it’s important to know your options before you opt for any one.
Learn more about degenerative disc disease below and find out how you can determine the best treatment option for your degenerative disc disease conditions.
Degenerative Disc Disease is a condition that occurs when our intervertebral discs (the rubbery cushions between the bones in our spinal column) begin to wear down as we age. In short, natural aging causes our spinal disks to begin to break down and degenerate—causing them to lose their flexibility and elasticity—and thereby causing our bones to rub together, creating discomfort. Over time, constant contact between your vertebrae can cause further pain and problems, leading to other adverse health conditions, such as arthritis of the lumbar spine, spinal stenosis, or herniated disks.
The most common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include sharp or constant back pain or neck pain, with the potential for radiating pain in the legs and arms. The pain or discomfort will typically come and go for a matter of weeks or months at a time, and can often lead to numbness or tingling in your legs and arms. Symptoms can gradually worsen after sitting, twisting, bending, or lifting objects, and often feel better by changing positions or by lying down.
Not sure if you’re feeling the symptoms of degenerative disc disease? Speak to a orthopedic spine surgeon for a second opinion. He or she will carefully examine you symptoms and your MRI scans to determine the best treatment option for you.
Degenerative disc disease can be a chronic condition that causes nagging pain over many months, if not years. Or, sometimes, it can gradually develop into severe pain that needs immediate treatment. Whether you’re in the former group or the latter, know that treatment options for degenerative disc disease exist. The pain doesn't have to last forever.
The pain from degenerative disc or joint disease of the spine can usually be treated conservatively with a combination of intermittent heat, rest, rehabilitative exercises, and medication, to relieve pain and inflammation. You can consult with a orthopedic specialist to determine the best treatment option for degenerative disc disease based on their diagnosis of your specific conditions.
Surgery for disc disease may be necessary if the pain gets severe and other treatments don’t ease the pain after 4-6 months. While it’s estimated that only 10-20% of cases involving lumbar discs and up to 30% of cases involving cervical discs will require surgery for degeneration, it’s important to consult with a orthopedic spine surgeon who can give you the best recommendation.
Again, while there are many treatment options to correct degenerative disc disease, it’s essential to talk to a orthopedic specialist who can help you determine the best course of treatment based on your conditions and preferences. Whether you opt for a non-surgical treatment option or surgery, working with a professional who offers a range of treatments is the best way to ensure you receive the best possible treatment for your degenerative disc disease conditions.
Moreover, if surgery is your best option, it’s smart to go with a specialist who can offer a minimally invasive procedure. Spine surgery, unfortunately, is risky business, so it’s vital to work with an experienced orthopedic spine surgeon who can help you weigh the benefits with the known risks.
Ready to discover the best degenerative disc disease treatment option for you? Schedule a virtual appointment with a Comprehensive Spine Center of Dallas specialist today!