Degenerative disc disease treatment is meant to alleviate the symptoms associated with nerve compression caused by the deterioration of one or more intervertebral discs. Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is not really a disease, per se. Rather, it is a general term applied to the gradual deterioration of the anatomical components of discs, primarily the gel-like center (nucleus pulposus) and the layered outer wall (annulus fibrosus). As these components deteriorate, the stability of the spine is jeopardized. Spinal instability can lead to nerve compression, which causes localized pain, radiating pain, tingling, numbness, muscle weakness and/or muscle atrophy in the extremities. Most people affected by DDD manage their symptoms using a regimen of conservative, nonsurgical treatment modalities.
Methods of Treatment
No two cases of DDD are precisely alike, which means there is no “one-size-fits-all” formula for degenerative disc disease treatment. The types of treatment recommended by a physician depends on a number of factors, including:
- The severity and frequency of the symptoms
- The location within the spine of the symptomatic nerve compression
- The overall health of the patient
- The underlying condition (herniated disc, bulging disc, etc.)
- Treatment methods that have been attempted without success in the past
Although the combination of methods will differ from patient to patient, there are a number of conservative treatment options that are generally reliable for most people. Pain and swelling are usually treated with non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and analgesics. A loss of mobility can be mitigated by stretching exercises to improve flexibility. Cardiovascular exercise, such as low-impact walking or riding a stationary bike, may also be prescribed. Some patients respond well to inflammation and pain reducing corticosteroid injections, although typically these are a temporary solution.
If Conservative Treatment Fails
If pain and other symptoms related to DDD remain debilitating after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, patients are encouraged to contact Laser Spine Institute to determine whether they are candidates for a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using advanced, endoscopic techniques. A complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan by our orthopedic experts is the first step toward determining the viability of your candidacy for minimally invasive spine surgery.