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Degenerative disc disease causes severe pain in many patients, but Laser Spine Institute can offer a comprehensive treatment experience

Degeneration is a common and natural part of the aging process. Daily wear and tear begins to impact the spinal elements, as well as other areas of the body that are under increased pressure from constant usage.

In a young, healthy spine, discs are made of 90 percent water. During the degeneration process, this water begins to dissipate, causing the disc to lose its height. As the disc loses height, the space between the two surrounding vertebrae can begin to shrink. This is considered degenerative disc disease or spondylosis, and is a condition that can lead to pain and instability in the spine.

Degenerative disc disease diagnosis

To accurately diagnose degenerative disc disease, physicians will often go through the following steps:

  1. Discuss the patient’s medical history and symptoms.
  2. Conduct a physical examination.
  3. Prescribe a medical imaging test (CT scan, MRI or X-ray).

Additionally, some physicians may decide to administer a selective nerve root block (SNRB) into the patient’s spine. This numbing medication is a valuable diagnostic tool because when the root block relieves the patient’s pain upon administration, it helps to identify the exact location of the disc that is causing the pain.

Degenerative disc disease causes

As its name suggests, degenerative disc disease is caused by degenerative changes in the spine’s anatomical structure. Most commonly, these changes are a result of aging, as spinal discs tend to weaken and become more prone to damage after enduring years of stress. Furthermore, traumatic injury, such as those obtained in a car accident or fall, as well as participation in high-impact sports, may also cause the spine to weaken prematurely.

Degenerative disc disease symptoms

Degenerative disc disease on its own does not always cause patients pain. However, when these discs begin to bulge or herniate under the pressure of the surrounding vertebrae, they run the risk of compressing a nerve in the spine. This can cause symptoms such as:

  • Pain in a localized area
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to walk or stand for long periods of time
  • Irritation
  • Radiating pain
  • Radiating tingling
  • Muscular weakness
  • Spasms in muscles
  • Radiating numbness
    At Laser Spine Institute, we understand the impact these symptoms can have on your life, which is why we are committed to offering the best minimally invasive spine surgery available to help treat degenerative disc disease.

Nonsurgical treatments

Many individuals with degenerative disc disease are able to effectively manage their pain through a combination of conservative methods of treatment, such as pain medication, physical therapy, stretching and exercise. These treatments aim to reduce the symptoms of degenerative disc disease rather than addressing the underlying cause of the pain. Additionally, many individuals have reported finding relief through a number of alternative treatments, including acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage therapy and yoga. It is important to note, however, that alternative treatments are generally not recognized by physicians and generally must be repeated to maintain meaningful relief. Talk to your physician before beginning any of these treatments.

Degenerative disc disease surgery provided by Laser Spine Institute

If conservative options are not successful in bringing you relief, surgery may be the best treatment path for you. Laser Spine Institute offers safer and effective alternatives to traditional open surgery through our minimally invasive procedures.^ Our Tampa center specializes in treating degenerative disc disease through a number of procedures including:

  • Foraminotomy — used to remove the pressure placed on the nerves exiting the spinal cord
  • Laminotomy — used to release the pressure that is being placed on the spinal cord
  • Discectomy — used to remove a portion of the degenerated disc that is causing compression or irritation
  • Anterior cervical discectomy fusion (ACDF) — used to remove the disc that is causing the symptoms and pain, while fusing the area to add increased stability
  • Cervical disc replacement — used to replace the damaged disc with a new artificial disc
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) — used to insert a spacer and bone graft into the disc area to add height and stability
  • Lateral lumbar interbody fusion — used to fuse together the adjacent vertebrae while adding a space to the disc area after removing the damaged disc material

For more information regarding degenerative disc disease treatment at Laser Spine Institute’s Tampa center and to find out if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures, contact us today for a no-cost MRI review.*