Degenerative disc pain overview

Nerve compression in the neck and back is a common side effect of degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative disc disease is damage to a disc in the spine due to the natural degeneration process of the spine. Over time, the spongy discs positioned between each set of vertebrae degenerate due to increased pressure from the vertebrae caused by weight gain and repetitive motions. With disc degeneration, there is an increased risk of disc herniation, thinning or bulging.

While a degenerative disc does not cause symptoms, it could lead to nerve compression in the spine, which could result in chronic pain and limited mobility. For example, disc thinning reduces the spacing between vertebrae, which could potentially trap and pinch a nerve root traveling between the vertebrae. Additionally, a bulging disc may protrude into the spinal canal and impact a nerve root, resulting in debilitating pain. To learn about methods for managing your degenerative disc pain, read on.

Managing degenerative disc pain

The specific types of degenerative disc pain vary from patient to patient, depending on the location and severity of the condition. Typically, a doctor performs a physical examination and asks for medical background information. The presence of degenerative disc disease is then confirmed with an MRI or CT scan. Once the diagnosis is made and the location and severity of the damaged disc is determined, pain management can begin.

Treatment of degenerative disc pain typically begins with a conservative course of action, including:

  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching exercises
  • Hot and cold compresses
  • Pain medication
  • Epidural steroid injections

Surgical treatment for degenerative disc pain

If you have tried these treatments for several weeks or months and have not found sufficient pain relief, a physician may suggest a surgical treatment. Traditionally, degenerative disc symptoms have been surgically treated with an open back procedure. These surgeries, however, are highly invasive and require a lengthy recovery period of six months to a year. One alternative to traditional open back surgery is minimally invasive spine surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, our staff of board-certified surgeons+ addresses degenerative disc pain with one of several minimally invasive procedures. Unlike traditional surgery, our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. They involve a lower risk of complication and a shorter recovery period than traditional open back procedures.^ To learn more about the advantages of our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

Patients with degenerative disc disease will often undergo a minimally invasive discectomy, which removes a small portion of the damaged disc without altering the stability of the spine. By removing this small portion, the pinched nerve will be released and the symptoms of pain will be alleviated. In some cases, the entire disc may need to be removed and replaced with an artificial disc to stabilize the spine. This is called a discectomy and stabilization procedure.

At Laser Spine Institute, our minimally invasive procedures have helped more than 75,000 patients find lasting relief from their chronic neck or back pain, setting us apart as the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. To find out if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient surgery, reach out to us today and ask for a free MRI review.* We are here to help guide you on your journey to wellness.