Degenerative disc disease — causes and treatment options

Degenerative disc disease describes the gradual deterioration of the discs found between the vertebrae of the spine. It is a type of degenerative spine condition and is typically the result of natural changes to the spinal discs. This condition could lead to symptoms of chronic pain and limited mobility coupled with sharp pain during certain movements.

Degenerative disc disease of the spine can not only compromise the structural integrity of the neck and back, but also the symptoms can be painful and lead to a decrease in quality of life. If you are experiencing symptoms in the neck or lower back of sharp, stabbing pain or chronic and aching pain, you should consult your doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms. Degenerative disc disease usually begins gradually but can steadily increase in pain and damage if left untreated.

Causes of degenerative disc disease of the spine

Degenerative disc disease usually develops over time as the integrity of the spine begins to naturally deteriorate. Areas of the spine, such as the cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) regions are responsible for supporting the head and body while providing stabilization during movement. Over time the spinal discs, which cushion the vertebrae and allow for bending and flexing, lose water content and become less elastic. This makes them less able to withstand the pressure being placed on them every day, especially when combined with lifestyle factors such as weight gain.

Degenerative disc disease is a general term referring to the breakdown of the spinal discs than can lead to more specific conditions such as bulging discs, herniated discs and collapsed discs. Although not necessarily painful, degenerative disc disease can cause symptoms if displaced disc material puts pressure on a nerve in the spinal column.

Treatment options for degenerative disc disease of the spine

Many mild cases of degenerative disc disease can be effectively treated through conservative methods of treatment. These types of treatment include physical therapy, lifestyle changes and medication, as well as many other options that your doctor can help you learn more about.

However, some more advanced forms of degenerative disc disease that have led to the development of other spine conditions may require a surgical treatment option. If you have tried several months of conservative therapy for your degenerative disc disease and have not found any lasting relief, you should research the full range of surgical options available to you.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer an outpatient approach to spine surgery that is an alternative to traditional open back surgery. Our minimally invasive spine surgery has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain.

For more information about our minimally invasive procedures and the treatment options available to you, please contact the team at Laser Spine Institute. We can help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.