Degenerative disc disease is rarely isolated to one or two vertebral levels. Degenerative disc disease is the gradual weakening and thinning of the shock absorbing intervertebral discs. This condition can occur at any level of the spine, cervical (neck), thoracic (upper back), and lumbar (lower back), and may cause a variety of symptoms and intensity levels. Unless a degenerative disc places pressure upon an adjacent nerve, symptoms remain nonexistent or strictly localized.
When nerve tissue is impinged or pinched, a number of symptoms may present. The most frequent and easily recognized symptom is pain, but muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, sciatica and other ailments may also be attributed to degenerative discs. Obviously, as the name suggests, multilevel degenerative disc disease is present at multiple sites along the spine and is often interconnected. Damage to one level can create a domino effect and put undue stress on other levels, leading to further disease.
Typically, physicians prescribe conservative, nonsurgical treatments to manage the symptoms of degenerative disc disease with great effect. These treatments can include:
- Physical therapy or stretching and strengthening exercises
- Heat and ice packs
- Pain medication (either over-the-counter or prescription)
- Improved posture
- Weight management
In some cases, patients may not respond to conservative treatment and surgery is prescribed. It is reasonable to determine the least invasive efficacious surgical treatment possible. Please investigate the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Laser Spine Institute offers efficacious procedures with shorter convalescent period and lower risk when compared with traditional open spine surgery of all types. Contact us today for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, and to receive more information about our facility.