What are degenerative spine conditions and how are they treated?

Degenerative spine conditions entail the gradual breakdown of the discs, facet joints and vertebral bodies. These age-related conditions occur as a result of the constant wear that is placed on the spine due to excess body weight and every bend and twist that the neck and back make.

Some patients with degenerative spine conditions experience no symptoms at all, while others might feel distinctive symptoms including neck or back pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness or pain in the extremities. In some cases, patients only experience discomfort if an inflamed, misaligned or damaged part of the spine presses against a spinal nerve, nerve root or the spinal cord itself. Learn about the treatment options available for degenerative spine conditions in the following article.

What are degenerative spine conditions?

Some of the most common age-related spine conditions include:

  • Degenerative disc disease. This condition is a breakdown of the discs that separate, support and cushion the vertebrae. Over time, the outer shells of the discs can become weak and the soft inner material can lose water content, which reduces mobility. This type of degenerative spine condition can lead to the development of herniated and bulging discs.
  • Spinal arthritis. This condition is a gradual breakdown of the cartilage that lines the facet joints which connect adjacent, articulating vertebrae. Spinal arthritis can lead to narrowing and the development of bone spurs (sharp projections), which are produced in an effort to stabilize the spine and lessen the bone-on-bone contact caused by spinal arthritis.

How are degenerative spine conditions treated?

Most patients are able to relieve the pain and discomfort caused by degenerative spine conditions through the use of conservative treatments, including:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants and pain medications
  • Physical therapy, range of motion exercises and core strengthening exercise
  • Weight management, quitting smoking and other lifestyle changes
  • Heat massages, ultrasounds and chiropractic manipulation

Do degenerative spine conditions require surgery?

Degenerative spine conditions generally only require surgery if conservative treatment proves ineffective after several weeks or months. If you’ve received little to no relief of your symptoms from nonsurgical treatments and your physician has recommended surgery, you might be a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure at Laser Spine Institute. We perform decompression and stabilization surgeries for degenerative spine conditions without the highly invasive nature and lengthy recovery^ of traditional open spine surgery.

Contact us to learn more about our outpatient procedures that have helped more than 75,000 patients to date find relief from chronic neck or back pain associated with degenerative spine conditions. Ask for your no-cost MRI review* today to determine if you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.