Intervertebral discs are natural shock absorbers between the boney vertebrae. Discs have two main components, an outer fibro-elastic containment rim and an inner soft gelatinous core. When axial loading pressure occurs along the spinal column, the central gelatinous core of the disc squeezes outward against the fibro-elastic containment rim of the disc. The elastic recoil of the containment wall pushes the gelatinous core back into position, reestablishing the height and shape of the disc. As a person ages, natural daily activity causes repeated loading of the disc. Tiny tears may develop in the fibers of the fibro-elastic outer containment wall. This causes some loss of the disc’s outer containment wall elasticity or recoil. The outer disc containment wall can no longer push the central core material back into shape as effectively. The outer containment wall sags, and is said to bulge or collapse. This age-related deterioration of discs is generally termed “degenerative disc disease.”
Results of Disc Degeneration
There are several conditions that can be the result of degenerative disc disease, including:
- Herniated disc
- Bulging disc
- Thinning disc
- Bone spurs
- Spinal stenosis
If your physician has diagnosed you with any of these conditions, he or she will most likely recommend a course of non-invasive, conservative treatment to help relieve symptoms such as numbness, tingling, traveling pain, localized back pain, or weakness. Pain medication, mild physical therapy, steroid injections, hot and cold packs, and rest are all ways to treat degenerative disc disease.
If symptoms persist, you may investigate the possibility of surgical treatment, such as:
- Disc removal
- Spinal fusion
- Artificial disc replacement
Inherent in traditional, open spine procedures are several risks including infection and bleeding. Your surgeon may also ask that you stay in the hospital for several days after your operation, and total recovery may take up to a year. Degenerative disc disease can be surgically treated without most of these risks, and the experts at Laser Spine Institute (LSI) may be able to help.
At LSI, we specialize in minimally invasive surgical procedures that are performed on an outpatient basis. We have had success relieving the symptoms associated with many spinal conditions. Obtain more information by contacting us. We offer a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.