What is the treatment for degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease treatment may become necessary as you get older, mainly because this condition is often associated with the natural aging process. Over time, your spinal discs will gradually lose water content, which can cause them to become smaller, drier, less flexible and more susceptible to cracks and other damage. Damaged discs are less effective at cushioning the spinal bones, which can lead to painful bone-on-bone contact, as well as disc problems like bulging and herniation. These issues can potentially result in compression of the spinal cord or a spinal nerve root.

If you’re experiencing painful symptoms that have led to a degenerative disc disease diagnosis, you’re probably thinking about treatment, but you likely won’t need to consider surgery, at least not right away. That’s because conservative therapies can be very effective for addressing this type of discomfort. Your physician may advise you to start out with some simple home remedies, such as heating pads, ice packs and over-the-counter medications. Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t see immediate results — it’s important to give nonsurgical treatments time to work. If you are consistent, you should typically expect to see some improvement within a few weeks.

What to do for your pain

Here are some basic guidelines for effective degenerative disc disease treatment:

  • Be as active as possible. Moving about can actually improve your spinal discomfort, so try not to allow your pain to slow you down too much. Even a just a few minutes of a simple, low-impact activity like walking, which costs nothing and can be done just about anywhere, can potentially help you feel better.
  • Protect your spine. Ongoing stress and repetitive motion can increase the rate of degeneration in your spine — and the resulting pain that you feel. Make changes in your daily routine so that you can avoid body positions and movements that worsen your discomfort. As a general rule of thumb, if something hurts, don’t do it.
  • Keep an open mind. Some people have very good experiences with complementary and alternative treatment approaches like yoga, massage therapy, chiropractic manipulation, physician-approved acupuncture and nutritional supplements. Even though some of these options are scientifically unproven and subject to debate within the mainstream medical community, you might want to discuss one or more with your physician if you are interested.

Be sure to consult with your doctor about any treatment or changes to your diet or exercise routine you are attempting.

If your pain doesn’t go away

A few weeks or months of conservative degenerative disc disease treatment might be all that you need to feel better. But, if your discomfort persists and you are recommended for surgery, you may be interested in knowing that the surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive outpatient surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures.^

To find out if you’re a candidate, call for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.