Lumbar degenerative disc disease

Many people experience degenerative disc disease in the lumbar (lower) section of the spine as they age because the discs naturally weaken over years of use. These discs are important components of the spine because they cushion the vertebrae during everyday actions, and their construction is uniquely suited to this purpose. They have two main components — a soft gelatinous core contained within a fibro-elastic rim — that can be negatively affected by the normal aging process. The elastic exterior usually maintains the shape of the disc as it is compressed, but small tears can occur over the years, leading to a loss of elasticity and possibly to the outer wall bulging or even herniating.

When degenerative disc disease affects the lumbar spine, it can manifest in a number of ways, including:

  • Lower back pain that is localized near the affected disc
  • Radiating pain that can affect the hips and legs (also known as sciatica)
  • Pain that worsens while sitting, bending, twisting and lifting

Many times, the pain caused by lumbar degenerative disc disease will last for a few days and slowly subside, but if it becomes chronic (lasts over three months), you should discuss the issue with your physician. You may have to undergo physical examinations as well as a CT scan or MRI in order to confirm your condition, and once you have a diagnosis, you can review possible treatment options. Your physician will likely first recommend conservative treatments, including modifying your daily activities, applying heat or ice packs to the affected area or completing physical therapy sessions. You can learn more about specific methods on our degenerative disc disease exercises page.

Through these conservative methods, most people can find relief from their symptoms, but in some cases, surgery is recommended to solve the root cause of the pain. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s practical to choose the most effective and least invasive option available. Consider the minimally invasive spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute, which requires a shorter recovery time and has a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgeries.^ Our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and have been proven to treat cases of lumbar degenerative disc disease.

Contact us today to speak to one of our Spine Care Consultants to learn more about these procedures that can help you get your life back from lower back pain.