Degenerative spine — symptoms and treatment

Degenerative spine is an umbrella term for spinal conditions that develop as a result of aging. Over time, the years of stress placed on the spine combined with natural loss of water content can cause the degeneration of spinal components such as vertebrae, discs, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. There are many common degenerative spine conditions that develop as a natural part of the aging process, including spinal osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, bulging discs, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, bone spurs and spondylolisthesis.

Degenerative spine symptoms

Symptoms of a degenerative spine vary based on which specific condition a patient has and its location on the spinal column. However, there are several symptoms that are common among all degenerative spine conditions, such as:

  • Localized or radiating pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Muscle weakness
  • Stiffness in the neck or back
  • A reduced range of motion

Additionally, the location of a patient’s symptoms depends on the area of their spine in which degeneration occurs. Degeneration in the cervical (upper) spine can affect the neck, shoulders, arms, hands and also the legs if the spinal cord is affected. Thoracic (middle) spine degeneration can cause symptoms around the chest and ribs. Lumbar (lower) spine degeneration impacts the hips, legs and feet. Multilevel symptoms may occur when there is degeneration in two or more areas of the spine.

Degenerative spine treatment

Degenerative spine treatment usually begins with a variety of conservative methods aimed at managing a patient’s symptoms. These can include one or more of the following:

  • Prescription or over-the-counter pain medication
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, quitting smoking or posture improvement
  • Alternative treatments such as chiropractic care or acupuncture

In some cases, symptoms may persist after several weeks or months of conservative treatment. When this happens, doctors may recommend spine surgery. While traditional open spine surgery has previously been used to treat degenerative spine conditions, Laser Spine Institute performs safer and effective minimally invasive alternatives to these surgeries.^ Our minimally invasive spine surgery is performed on an outpatient basis through the use of muscle-sparing techniques. Contact our caring team today to learn more.

We can help find out if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive outpatient procedures designed to treat degenerative spine conditions by giving you a free MRI review.*