What should I do if I think I have degenerative changes in the spine?

Degenerative changes in the spine are a natural part of life for everyone. Many times, these changes are not noticeable or painful, but they can cause painful symptoms if spinal anatomy compresses a nerve. As we age, the parts of our spine — especially the joints and shock-absorbing discs — can dry out and become brittle. This makes the discs and joints less able to absorb the weight of the upper body and allow for smooth movement. Conditions like arthritis of the spine and degenerative disc disease are the result of these age-related changes in the spine.

If you are experiencing neck or back pain that has not improved within a few days, you should consult with your doctor for diagnosis and a treatment plan. Even though no one can fully prevent degenerative changes in the spine, being proactive with your treatment can give you the best chance of maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. As you prepare to meet with your doctor, there are steps you can take to ensure your comfort, such as resting and taking over-the-counter medication.

Initial treatments commonly recommended by doctors

To diagnose if a degenerative spine condition is the source of your pain, a doctor can perform a full exam. An MRI or CT scan may aid in pinpointing exactly where degenerative changes in the spine are taking place. Upon diagnosis, most doctors will recommend a course of conservative treatment options including the following:

  • Exercise
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage
  • Medication
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Alternative treatments such as acupuncture or chiropractic treatment

Due to the highly invasive nature of most surgical procedures, doctors and patients alike will typically exhaust conservative options before seriously exploring surgery. However, if a course of conservative treatment does not bring relief, you may be referred to a specialist to consider your options.

Laser Spine Institute

If you’ve been recommended for surgery but have concerns about the hospitalization and long recovery time that comes with traditional open spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck or back pain with minimally invasive spine surgery. These outpatient procedures offer our patients a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complication than traditional open neck or back surgery.

Our dedicated team can tell you how to get your no-cost MRI review* that can help you determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.