Degenerative spine diagnosis and treatment

Receiving a degenerative spine diagnosis can create worry, but there are many treatment methods available that have allowed patients suffering from one of the many degenerative spinal conditions to find much-needed relief. The first point that needs to be understood about degenerative spine disease is that it is mostly unavoidable. As you age, some components of your neck and back will naturally wear out due to years of activity, and that can lead to degeneration of the cartilage and discs in the spine. In turn, that degeneration can result in pressure being applied to spinal nerves, which can lead to pain and other symptoms.

Some of the many degenerative spinal conditions include:

  • Bulging discs — Spinal discs that have swelled beyond their normal space
  • Herniated discs — Spinal discs that have ruptured, allowing the material inside the disc to escape
  • Pinched nerves — Compression of a nerve that can result in several different symptoms
  • Sciatica — Symptoms that arise from the irritation of the sciatic nerve
  • Degenerative disc disease — The breakdown of the spinal discs
  • Spinal osteoarthritis — The breakdown of the cartilage on the spinal facet joints
  • Bone spurs — Excess growths on bones, often caused by arthritis
  • Spinal stenosis — Narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Degenerative scoliosis — A curvature of the spine that can develop later in life

Degenerative spine diagnosis

A degenerative spine diagnosis can often be made by your primary care physician, who will likely also be able to provide several treatment options. Before making a diagnosis, the physician will go through your medical history and conduct a physical exam to evaluate such factors as your posture, flexibility and range of motion.

A number of diagnostic tests can also be conducted to help confirm a diagnosis of a degenerative spinal condition, including X-rays, CT scans, MRIs or bone scans.

Degenerative spine treatment

The next step after a degenerative spine diagnosis is to learn your treatment options so you can start working toward relief. Your physician will likely recommend a combination of conservative treatments that can include pain medications, steroid injections and hot/cold therapy, while weight loss and stretching/strengthening exercises can also produce results.

While these methods are effective at providing relief for degenerative spine symptoms in the majority of patients, surgery may be necessary in cases where conservative treatments don’t produce results. If you think you might be a candidate for one of our minimally invasive, outpatient surgical procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today.