Aging is a gift! But, it does come with snaps, crackles, and pops that you didn’t have when you were 20-something. There are some elements of age, however, that you shouldn’t just accept as normal like painful symptoms of degenerative disc disease (DDD). Let us answer several frequently asked questions about DDD so you can better understand it and how we can help:
What is degenerative disc disease?
Contrary to its name, it is not a disease. However, it is a condition that causes pain and discomfort in your spine. Your spine has 33 vertebrae and 23 discs. These discs separate the vertebrae from each other, providing cushioning as well as support.
DDD occurs when the jelly-like substance inside the discs begin to lose moisture. When this happens, the disc gets flatter and cannot provide vertebrae separation.
What symptoms are associated with degenerative disc disease?
The symptoms you feel will depend on how long the discs have been degenerating and the degree of nerve impingement. Consider the following symptoms:
These symptoms may remain localized where the nerve is pinched, or it may radiate to your limbs.
What treatment options are available?
Depending on the severity of your symptoms and what you have or haven’t tried yet, your friendly neurosurgeon may recommend the following:
Surgical options include Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) or Spinal Fusion. These surgical options can drastically reduce pain and facilitate healing. Via ALIF, the damaged disc is removed entirely, and bone is put in its place and fused to the surrounding vertebrae. Via Spinal Fusion, a laminectomy is conducted then the spine is fused together in that one area. This eliminates back pain that is caused by movement.
Non-surgical options include medication or injections that control/lessen the pain, physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles, and lifestyle changes such as losing weight, improving your posture, and ditching nicotine products for good.
Should I visit an orthopedic doctor for DDD?
No, you can visit us! The GNI neurosurgeons have extensive experience and knowledge concerning diagnosing and treating degenerative disc disease. They will discuss your symptoms, conduct an exam, and talk to you about treatment options.