Types of Disc Degeneration Seen in Degenerative Disc Disease Patients
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a term used to refer to the gradual deterioration of the intervertebral discs that cushion the bones of the spine throughout their everyday motions. Several types of disc deterioration symptoms can occur, depending on the location of the affected discs.
Cervical, thoracic and lumbar DDD
When degenerative disc disease affects the cervical spine (or neck), a patient may experience stiffness and loss of motion in the neck, as well as localized pain near the damaged disc. Said disc may also impinge on the surrounding nerve roots, causing radiating symptoms like pain, numbness, weakness and tingling in the shoulders or arms.
In the thoracic spine (middle of the back, at the level of the ribcage), degenerative disc disease often causes pain around the site of the damaged disc. However, it can also produce symptoms that are less obviously related to damaged discs, such as radiating pain or weakness that affects the legs.
The lumbar spine (lower back) is the area most commonly affected by degenerative disc disease, possibly because it supports so much weight and absorbs so many impacts throughout a lifespan. When the discs in this section of the spine are damaged, they can cause lower back pain. Additionally, discs in the lumbar spine that make contact with nerve roots can cause symptoms in the legs, including sciatica.
Degenerative disc disease can affect any disc in the spine
Degenerative disc disease isn’t necessarily limited to one section of the spine because the factors that can cause deterioration of the intervertebral discs in one level of the spine can also lead to problems in the other areas. For example, every disc in the spine can be negatively affected by the loss of water and elasticity, thereby becoming more brittle and susceptible to deterioration.
If you have been diagnosed with any type of degenerative disc disease and you’re investigating your surgical treatment options, consider the options offered by Laser Spine Institute. We specialize in minimally invasive procedures that are effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery. Contact us today for information about our outpatient procedures, and we’ll offer you a review of your MRI or CT scan.