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Degenerative Discs

Home » Conditions » Degenerative Discs

 

Degenerative Discs

Take Steps Toward Pain Relief

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) occurs in many people during the normal aging process, and is often referred to as “arthritis of the back.”

With age, the discs or “shock absorbers” located between the vertebral bodies lose their elasticity and may cause one vertebral body to collapse down onto another. This collapsed body may compress nerve roots or the spinal cord, causing back and/or leg pain.

 

Prevention

Reduce your risk.

While Degenerative Disc Disease often results from normal changes in your discs during the natural aging process or from traumatic injury, there are a few preventative measures that individuals can take to avoid advancing degeneration. These include:

  • Avoid repetitive lifting
  • Refrain from smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight
 
 

Symptoms

Pinpoint your pain.

  • Aching lower back pain
  • Stiffness in back
  • Radiating pain that descends into the legs
  • Pain is usually worse with activity or prolonged sitting or standing
 

Diagnosis

Get the answers you need.

Diagnosis Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) as the cause of the pain is a 3-step process:

  • A review of a patient’s history, including when the pain started, a description of the pain and other symptoms, and activities, positions and treatments that make the pain better or worse.
  • A physical exam, in which the doctor examines the patient for physical signs of a symptomatic degenerated disc. This exam may include testing the patient’s range of motion, muscle strength, local tenderness, and more, with a focus on the lower back and legs.
  • A MRI scan, which is used if DDD is suspected, as well as to rule out other potential causes of the patient’s symptoms.
 
 

Treatment

Life’s too short to put up with pain.

Once a diagnosis has been made, Dr. Kayal and his team determine the best treatment plan for the patient. Possible treatment options include:

  • Non-Operative Treatment. Medications, physical therapy or spinal cortisone injections are used for pain relief. Surgery can be considered for those who do not improve.
  • Decompression. This surgical procedure involves removing all or portions of the lamina, removing bone spurs and/or enlarging foramina to relieve pressure or compression on the nerve roots or spinal cord. This pressure is often the cause of the pain.
  • Decompression & Posterolateral Fusion. Often times, in addition to decompression, your surgeon will perform an instrumented posterolateral fusion by inserting a series of screws and rods, coupled with the placement of bone graft. This fusion provides increased spinal stability.
  • Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF). The surgical approach is from the front of the abdomen. Once the exposure is made, surgical instruments are used to remove the disk material that’s causing the nerve compression. Once this material is removed, an interbody cage or bone spacer is placed at the disk site and filled with bone graft. The vertebral bodies above and below are frequently put under compression to aid in the subsequent spinal fusion.
  • Posterior Transforaminal Interbody Fusion. The same procedure as the ALIF, but the approach and exposure are performed from the back. Just as in an ALIF, the disc material is removed and an interbody device is inserted. Compression through the use of pedicle screws is frequently achieved to aid in fusion.
  • Disc Replacement. This is the removal of the spinal disc, and replacement with an artificial prosthesis.

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