Open Accessibility Menu
Hide

Degenerative Disc Disease

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative Disc Disease is a chronic and often painful condition. This condition happens when one or more of the vertebral discs (cushions between the vertebrae) become damaged and weakened and no longer work as shock absorbers for the movement of the spine.

Degenerative disc disease can be a result of the natural aging process or by injury to the back at any age. It begins when small tears appear in the disc wall. The tears cause pain in the back at the site of the tear. Gradually the the tears heal, causing scar tissue to form. This scar tissue is not as strong as the original disc wall. Over time, the disc weakens and the nucleus of the disc becomes damaged and loses some of it's water content.

As the nucleus of the disc continues to lose it's water content, the disc itself is unable to act as a shock absorber. And, without the shock absorber, the vertebrae above and below the damaged disc start to slide together and in turn the facet joints (areas where the vertebral bones touch), twist into an unnatural position. Eventually bone spurs may form, which, if left untreated can lead to spinal stenosis (pinching of the spinal cord and sciatic nerve).

Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms

  • Back pain - strong pain may come and go
  • Pain, numbness or tingling in the legs (sciatica)
  • Pain may worsen when bending, twisting, lifting or sitting
  • Lying down may relieve pain (lying with a pillow under the knees or lying on a recliner - since these positions relieve the stress on the lumbar disc space.)
  • Walking or running may actually feel better than prolonged sitting or standing
  • Patients will tend to feel better when changing positions frequently

Non-Surgical or Conservative Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease

  • Pain medication (acetaminophen, NSAIDs, oral steroids, narcotic drugs, and muscle relaxants)
  • Epidural injections
  • Physical therapy & exercise

Surgical Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease

  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)
  • Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (XLIF)
  • Artifical disc replacement surgery
  • Minimally invasive spine surgery
  • Spinal Fusion

Schedule an appointment with a spine doctor at Newport Orthopedic Institute today to ensure you receive a proper diagnosis and receive evidence-based treatment options for your back pain.

Related Providers
*Please note that all physicians are listed in random order and search results are refreshed every hour to comply with Stark Law.
Related Testimonials
  • Total Hip Replacement "Nice office, nice people, good Doctor and immediate support staff. I can tell Dr. Mudiyam treats his employees well and that everyone there loves what they do." Provider: Ram Mudiyam MD
  • Spinal Interventional Procedure "Dr. Charlu helps me manage pain without taking pain medicine." Provider: Balaji (Bobby) S Charlu MD
  • Cervical Discectomy "Dr. Gordon provides first class care!" Provider: Michael L Gordon MD
  • Spinal Interventional Procedure "Dr. Charlu is a great doctor and always explains everything to you. He is very caring." Provider: Balaji (Bobby) S Charlu MD
  • Spinal Injections Epidural/Facet "Very professional, created a peaceful environment and my pain treatment was effective." Provider: Balaji (Bobby) S Charlu MD
  • Spinal Injections Epidural/Facet "They are very professional and very nice." Provider: Kimberly Safman MD
  • Cervical Discectomy "Dr. Lee is an amazing surgeon after the normal pain of the surgery was gone all my symptoms prior to the surgery orgone also. The care team was great after the surgery and answered all my questions no matter big or small, which I think was most important ..." Provider: Richard S Lee MD
  • Lumbar Discectomy "Daily checks on my condition" Provider: Michael L Gordon MD
  • Spinal Injections Epidural/Facet "They were professional and friendly." Provider: Balaji (Bobby) S Charlu MD
  • Lumbar Decompression w/Fusion (anterior) "Superb post-op care." Provider: Richard S Lee MD
  • Lumbar Decompression with Fusion (anterior) "From the first time I met Dr. Lee I knew that I wanted him to perform my surgery. Dr. Lee was caring about my issues and was patient while answering all my questions and concerns. Dr. Lee is by far the best Orthopedic Surgeon and I would recommend him to ..." Provider: Richard S Lee MD
  • Lumbar Decompression w/Fusion (anterior) "Responsive when needed and constant communication helped answer all my questions." Provider: Richard S Lee MD
Patient Reviews are anonymous and provided through GetWell, a HIPAA compliant patient engagement tool.
Related Videos
Related Blogs
Related Locations