What are discogenic degenerative changes?

Discogenic degenerative changes happen to everyone to some degree or another as a result of the natural aging process. The term discogenic means a disorder originating from the spinal discs, while degeneration refers to a breakdown of the discs that is usually a result of getting older. These changes are not particularly painful, but they can lead to neck and back pain or radiating pain if the disc material becomes displaced and puts pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord.

Discogenic degenerative changes in the spine are unavoidable, mainly being caused by regular wear on the spine from everyday movement. However, there are factors such as injury, poor spine alignment and unhealthy habits which can accelerate disc deterioration — particularly in the more flexible cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) regions of the spine. Read on about the cause of discogenic degenerative changes as well as the various treatment options that are best for your condition in order to get relief from your painful symptoms.

How do discogenic degenerative changes occur?

The rubbery spinal disc’s act as shock absorbers for the vertebrae, allowing the spine to bend and flex. However, since the spine is responsible for supporting the weight of the upper body and the head, the combination of stress and mobility keeps the discs under significant strain. Discogenic degenerative changes occur when these discs dry out with age and lose their ability to hold their shape.

These changes can lead to painful symptoms and limited mobility if a condition such as a bulging or herniated disc narrows the spinal canal (spinal stenosis) or a nerve root exits and compresses a nerve (foraminal stenosis). This can cause symptoms like pain, burning, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness to occur both locally as well as radiating in the upper or lower extremities.

Treatment for discogenic degenerative changes

Diagnosis and treatment of discogenic degenerative changes and nerve compression can be accomplished with the help of your primary care doctor. In many cases, back pain can be sufficiently managed with a prescription for a course nonsurgical treatments, including:

  • Pain medication, cortisone shots and anti-inflammatories
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Chiropractic adjustment
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapy
  • Posture improvement
  • Weight management

Should your pain continue despite several weeks of conservative treatment and your doctor presents surgery as an option, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive spine surgery.

Our state-of-the-art procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery, offering no lengthy recovery^ and less risk of complication for our patients. We have helped more than 75,000 patients since 2005 find relief from their chronic conditions, including degenerative changes in the spine.

Reach out to our dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.