Degenerative Disc Disease: Treatment Options for Age-Related Back Problems

New Jersey Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment

Aug 21, 2014 @ 10:51 AM — by Aron D Rovner, MD 
Tagged with: Degenerative Disc Disease | Back Problems

We at New York Spine and Sports Surgery have helped countless patients with their needs. This includes a variety of neck and back pain problems that affect mobility as well as orthopedic conditions that can have a significant affect on a person's quality of life. What's important to us is customizing the treatment to the patient so that their needs are carefully and fully addressed.

As people age, they will notice a number of changes to their body and their mobility. One significant condition that affects the back is known as degenerative disc disease. We'd like to go over this common back and neck condition right now.

What is degenerative disc disease?

To answer this question, let's first consider the nature of the discs in the spine. These intervertebral discs are located between the vertebrae and serve as a type of shock absorber to address motion and pressure that affects the spine.

Degenerative disc disease refers to a case in which these intervertebral discs begin to deteriorate, resulting in discomfort as well as issues with your range of motion and flexibility. While it can occur in all parts of the spine, the lower back is commonly affected given how much weight and stress is placed on this part of the spine on a day-to-day basis.

What causes degenerative disc disease?

Advanced age and the natural aging process are the causes of degenerative disc disease. Small amounts of damage can accrue over time, causing the discs to function not as well as they used to. In addition, a reduction of fluid to the spine can lead to the thinning and narrowing of these discs, meaning that they will not function as well in terms of their ability to absorb shock.

What are the symptoms of degenerative disc disease?

Common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:

  • Temporary flare ups of neck and back pain
  • Increase in baseline neck and back pain
  • Back pain when performing certain actions
  • Back pain when the body is in specific positions

If you should notice any of the above, be sure to bring it up with your general practitioner during a physical so the matter can be looked into in greater detail.

Conditions Linked to Degenerative Disc Disease

The following back conditions are commonly linked to degenerative disc disease:

  • Herniated discs
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal stenosis

Non-Surgical Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease

In general, non-surgical treatments are best to address degenerative disc disease so long as the condition is not serious. Various pain relievers can be prescribed, anti-inflammatory drugs may be considered as well, and a mix of hot and cold therapy can be performed in order to address undue discomfort. Physical therapy and stretching may be considered as well to address the issue, as well as basic lifestyle modifications (e.g., improving diet to lose weight, quitting smoking, more exercise, etc.). The treatment will be tailored to your needs.

Surgical Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease

If the case of degenerative disc disease is serious and leads to a severe back problem that cannot be addressed through non-surgical means, back surgery will then be considered. Sometimes this will involve the fusion of vertebrae to help protect the spine itself or the placement of an artificial spinal disc. These matters can be discussed in greater detail during a consultation with a spine specialist.

Learn More About Back and Neck Pain Treatments

For more information about degenerative disc disease and what treatment options would be ideal for you and your needs, be sure to contact our neck and back pain specialists today. The team at New York Spine and Sports Surgery looks forward to your visit and helping you achieve excellent back health.