Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment isn’t Always Necessary

The term degenerative disc disease carries a certain connotation. “Degenerative” implies that the condition is growing gradually worse; “disease” sounds like a pathological problem. Yet, the truth of the matter is that the name is largely a misnomer. As it turns out, degenerative disc disease is a condition that affects millions of people every year and is nowhere near as ominous as the name implies. In fact, a large number of people who are affected by degenerative disc disease don’t even know they have it.

Degenerative disc disease defined

In truth, degenerative disc disease refers to the gradual deterioration of the intervertebral discs that prevent our vertebrae from grinding together. In a normal spine, these thick pads act as shocks and reduce the stress placed on the spine. However, over time the protein and water content of these pads can change and the walls of the discs can thin. This deterioration is just a normal part of the aging process and is not necessarily symptomatic, and the condition is one of the underlying causes for other conditions such as stenosis of the spine. It’s only in the event that these intervertebral discs extrude into the spinal column and compress a nerve that a person will experience any pain.

Nerve compression symptoms

Nerve compression can result in a variety of symptoms, such as:

  • Local pain in the neck or back
  • Pain that seems to radiate along the compressed nerve
  • Unexpected muscle weakness or the feeling of fatigue
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Other forms of sciatica

Degenerative disc disease treatment varies but generally is only needed if the intervertebral disc compresses a nerve. Even still, in most cases conservative, non-surgical treatment sufficiently alleviates the symptoms of a pinched nerve. However, it should be noted that decompression surgery is occasionally required in severe cases. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn about the state-of-the-art, minimally invasive spine procedures we offer to treat degenerative disc disease, and to receive a review of your MRI or CT scan.