Degenerative spine — types of conditions

Degenerative spine is a collective term for a range of age-related effects that can happen to the spinal anatomy with time. Common degenerative spine conditions include degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, osteoarthritis, bone spurs and spinal stenosis. These disorders can also manifest at one or more levels of the spine, such as the cervical region, thoracic region and/or lumbar region.

Learning about these different types of degenerative spine conditions can give you a great overview of the spine and make you better equipped to get the help you deserve if any of these conditions are affecting your life.

Degenerative spine types by condition

Here are three of the main types of degenerative spine conditions that can occur:

  • Degenerative disc disease. A spinal disc is composed of a gel-like inner core contained by a thick outer wall. Degenerative disc disease can develop as these strong, shock-absorbing cushions gradually lose flexibility over time. As the discs become drier and more brittle with age, they can be more likely to experience thinning, bulging, tearing or herniation.
  • Osteoarthritis. Spinal arthritis is a breakdown of the articular cartilage that lines and cushions the spinal facet joints that link the vertebrae. As this cartilage wears away, the bones within the facet joints can begin to grind together. To stabilize the affected area, the body often produces bone spurs, which can cause symptoms by putting pressure on the spinal nerves.
  • Spinal stenosis. Stenosis is narrowing of the nerve pathways of the spine which house the spinal cord and the exiting nerve roots. The narrowing can be caused by displaced disc material, bone spurs and swollen joints and can lead to pain and mobility problems if they compress any spinal nerves.

Degenerative spine types by location

The different types of degenerative spine conditions can also be classified by the level of the spine where they develop. These regions include:

Cervical level — symptoms in the neck might radiate through the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers
Thoracic level — symptoms in the middle back and around the rib cage, kidneys and chest
Lumbar level. — symptoms that travel from the lower back through the hips, buttocks, legs and feet
Multilevel — degeneration in two or more areas of the spine

Minimally invasive treatment options

If you’ve been diagnosed with any of the various types of degenerative spine conditions and have not found relief after weeks and months of conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute.

We perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures.^

Contact one of our Spine Care Consultants today for a no-cost MRI review* to help you determine if you are a candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.