Three questions to ask your doctor before undergoing surgery for degenerative disc disease

Degenerative disc disease is a common spine condition that generally occurs as a result of the natural aging process. The vertebrae (the bones that form the spine) are separated by discs that are intended to hold the bones together, provide cushioning support and enable movement in the spine. As someone grows older, the discs in his or her spine will generally begin to wear down and weaken, which may lead to additional issues such as disc herniation, disc slippage and the development of bone spurs. A person’s genetics and lifestyle habits — such as diet, alcohol consumption and cigarette use — can also affect his or her rate of disc degeneration.

If you’ve been told that you may require degenerative disc disease surgery, you probably have many questions about the process. Here are three questions that you may want to ask your physician before undergoing surgery for this painful condition:

  1. What are the potential risks of surgery? Although it can be scary to think about, you may actually feel more at ease after learning what a procedure entails, including whether it involves any potential complications. Learning about possible risks reduces fear of the unknown, which may help to calm your worries. Your physician can let you know whether a particular procedure presents any risks, as well as how commonly those complications actually occur.
  2. What should I expect during my recovery? Many people are so concerned about surgery itself that they don’t give much thought to the subsequent recovery process. Your physician can provide you with valuable information regarding how long you’ll be in the hospital or surgery center, how you’ll feel in the days, weeks and months after surgery, when you’ll be able to return to work and whether there are any activities or tasks that you should avoid after surgery.
  3. Are there any nonsurgical treatment options I could try before turning to surgery? In many cases, people living with degenerative disc disease are able to relieve their symptoms without the need for surgery by using conservative treatment methods. These methods may include medication, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, exercising and lifestyle changes. If you’ve been told that you may require surgery, but you’re hesitant to undergo such a procedure, your physician can let you know whether there are any potential alternatives.

We also invite you to contact Laser Spine Institute for more information about the minimally invasive outpatient surgeries we offer to treat degenerative disc disease, including our decompression and stabilization procedures. We would be happy to conduct a free MRI review* to let you know whether you might be a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.