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Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease occurs when one or more discs in the spine begin to deteriorate. These discs play an important role for the spine. They act like shock absorbers between your vertebra and enable your spine to bend and twist. Over time, normal wear and tear on the back can permanently damage these discs. Degenerative disc disease can cause severe, chronic pain that interferes with your daily activities. At SSM Health, our back and spine specialists understand how difficult it is to live in pain. We’ll work hard to  create a plan that helps you feel better and improves your quality of life. Find a provider near you today to get started.

Signs & Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

Some common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:

  • Chronic low back pain, sometimes radiating to the hips
  • Pain in the thighs, buttocks or legs when walking
  • Tingling or weakness in the legs
  • Pain while sitting, twisting, bending and lifting
  • Chronic neck pain, radiating to the head, shoulders and arms

Treating Degenerative Disc Disease

Treating degenerative disc disease usually includes a combination of therapies depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

In many cases, degenerative disc disease can be successfully treated without surgery. Your care team may recommend one or more of the following options to relieve your symptoms:

  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic manipulative therapy
  • Osteopathic manipulation
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Spinal injections
  • Traction

Surgical Treatment Options

If your symptoms persist after two to three months of treatment, your doctor may recommend surgery. SSM Health offers a variety of advanced surgical procedures, including:

  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion: removes an intervertebral disc in the cervical spine through a small incision in the front of the neck. The disc is then replaced with a bone graft, which will eventually fuse the vertebrae back together.
  • Cervical corpectomy: removes a portion of the vertebra and nearby intervertebral discs to allow the cervical spine cord and nerves to decompress. A bone graft or metal plate is used to stabilize the spine.
  • Intervertebral disc annuloplasty: heats the degenerated disc to 90°C (194°F) for 15 minutes in an effort to seal the disc and deaden irritated nerves.
  • Intervertebral disc arthroplasty: replaces degenerated intervertebral discs with artificial ones in the cervical (upper) or lumbar (lower) spine.
  • Micro-discectomy: uses a microscope to remove a disc through a very small incision.

Following surgery, your doctor may recommend physical or occupational therapy to help regain your strength.

Our experienced, multidisciplinary care team is committed to providing comprehensive, compassionate care for your back pain. That commitment, combined with our expertise ensures you’re getting the best care possible when you choose SSM Health for your back pain. Schedule an appointment today, so you can get back to living the life that you love.

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