Degenerative disc disease refers to a condition of spinal degeneration that becomes more common with increasing age. Disc degeneration is a common source of back pain among middle-aged and older adults and affects more than 3 million people in the U.S. each year. Fortunately, our minimally invasive treatment approaches can improve painful symptoms and restore a full range of motion.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE?
For maximum mobility, the spine must maintain strength while permitting some flexibility. As a result, there are soft, compressible discs between the 33 vertebrae that make up the spine to prevent bones from grinding together. These spinal discs behave like shock absorbers and are made of a tough, cartilage-like exterior with a softer, gel-like interior. During aging, spinal discs lose water and become stiffer, thinner and more brittle. Tiny cracks or damage to the tough disc exterior may cause the gel-like interior to bulge or rupture, which can lead to a variety of conditions.
Common conditions accompanied by disc degeneration include a bulging disc, a herniated disc, spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) or osteoarthritis. These conditions put additional pressure on nerves, which leads to serious, chronic pain in the back, neck, legs and arms. Disc degeneration occurs most commonly in the cervical vertebrae located in the neck region or in the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. Pain from disc degeneration can vary widely from person to person, as some experience excruciating pain while others experience only mild pain with few symptoms.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT TREATMENT FOR ME?
Initial treatment of degenerative disc disease often includes a conservative approach to manage pain and strengthen the back. Pain medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes, such as increasing movement throughout the day or gentle stretching exercises, may be sufficient to ease symptoms.
When conservative approaches are not enough to manage pain, surgery for degenerative disc disease is a viable treatment approach. Artificial disc replacement a minimally invasive, two-hour outpatient procedure, is one of the best choices and most common procedures performed based on conditions resulting from degenerative disc disease.
Dr. Katzman has successfully performed over 250 artificial disc replacements and is dedicated to developing advanced methods to provide minimally invasive solutions for degenerative spine issues.