Degenerative Disc Q & A

What causes degenerative disc disease?

Over time, the discs between your spinal vertebrae degenerate due to two problems. The discs shrink and lose their ability to cushion the vertebrae as they dehydrate, and wear and tear gradually weakens the discs’ outer covering. The combined effect eventually causes enough degeneration to make the disc collapse.

In addition to age-related degeneration, degenerative disc disease is associated with spine injuries that cause swelling and repetitive activities that cause small tears in the outer covering.

Degenerative disc disease leads to problems such as spinal instability and pinched nerves. As vertebrae lose the cushioning provided by the discs, the bones rub against one another, causing arthritis and bone spurs.

What symptoms develop due to degenerative disc disease?

The primary symptom of degenerative disc disease is lower back or neck pain, depending on the location of the damaged disc. Many patients experience sharp or severe pain.

Your pain may be constant or go away for a while, then return in a sudden flareup of excruciating pain. Many patients find that their pain improves when they lie down.

If your degenerative disc disease causes spinal instability, you may develop muscle spasms. It’s also common to have a pinched nerve that causes the classic neurologic symptoms of pain, tingling, and numbness radiating down your arms or legs.

How is degenerative disc disease treated?

Treatment for degenerative disc disease begins with physical therapy and medications. If conservative options don’t help, you doctor at Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine may recommend:

Interventional pain management

Interventional treatments target the source of your pain, either decompressing the nerves or blocking nerve signals so your brain doesn’t get the pain message.
There are several interventional options that effectively relieve degenerative disc disease symptoms, including nerve blocks and epidural steroid injections.

The doctors at Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine also offer specialized treatments such as the Vertiflex® Superion®, a device that gently separates two vertebrae that are no longer supported by a degenerated disc.

The device maintains space between the vertebrae, which relieves pressure on your spine, restores spinal mobility, decompresses nerves, and alleviates your pain.

Regenerative medicine

The platelets in platelet-rich plasma (PRP) accelerate healing and help regulate inflammation. Adult stem cells regenerate new tissues to replace the damaged tissues in your disc.

Your doctor at Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine may inject one or both to help restore the affected disc.

These treatments are only a few examples of the options available at Optimal Pain & Regenerative Medicine. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking feature or call one of the offices.