Degenerative disc disease of the spine can not only compromise the structural integrity of the neck and back, but the symptoms can be extremely painful, threatening to decrease your daily quality of life.
Generally, the pain of degenerative disc disease does not arise from the damaged disc itself, but from fragmented disc material that compresses spinal nerves, which are constantly sending signals to and from sensory organs and muscles. So, while the actual degeneration may be occurring in one small section of your spine, the pain might be felt anywhere from your neck to your feet, depending on which nerve root is being pinched. For this reason, conditions – like bone spurs, herniated disc, bulging disc, and thinning discs – often can be treated by decompressing the nerves trapped by a degenerative spine condition.
There are three types of treatment options for degenerative disc disease of the spine: non-invasive, invasive, and minimally invasive. Non-invasive methods, like medication, physical therapy, rest, and injections, typically always should be tried first. If these prove ineffective, you may consider invasive open-back surgery, which includes general anesthesia, large incisions, months of recovery time, and the risk of infection and scarring.
Minimally invasive procedures can provide the benefit of being successful in the vast majority of cases – while also greatly reducing surgical risks such as bleeding, infection, long recovery times, and scarring. Minimally invasive procedures typically involve a small incision through which a thin tube is inserted. A tiny light and video camera are maneuvered through the tube for looking inside the body. Live images from the tiny video camera are projected onto a screen in the operating room so that the surgeon and medical staff can see the areas of the spine needing treatment. A laser, irrigation, and small surgical tools also are inserted into the tube as needed for the removal of tissue that’s impinging on spinal nerves. This type of degenerative spine treatment is usually done on an outpatient basis, with local anesthesia and deep IV sedation.
If you would like more information regarding the latest minimally invasive, laser-assisted procedures for the spine, contact the experts at Laser Spine Institute (LSI). We also can provide you with a review of your MRI or CT scan, completely free of charge.