Degenerative Disc Disease

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Fight Back Against Painful Degenerative Disc Disease

The term “degenerative disc disease” refers to changes that occur because of the age-related wear and tear of the intervertebral discs. The spinal discs between the vertebrae of the spine are shock absorbers that help you remain flexible. They’re made of a soft inner core and a strong external shell, and they prevent your vertebrae from grinding against each other, thus facilitating smooth, frictionless movements.

As you grow older, the spinal discs gradually change shape, becoming weaker and less flexible. They might even display signs of wearing out, and they may eventually break down, becoming incapable of shock absorption. When the spinal discs dry out, lose height, or become stiff, you may suffer from nerve compression, joint inflammation, or bone damages, resulting in spinal pain. Degenerative disc disease is most common on the lumbar spine.

Degenerative Disc Disease: Symptoms

The specific symptoms of degenerative disc disease depend on which spinal discs have been damaged. While this condition can happen anywhere on the spine, it’s most common in the lower back region. That’s why the symptoms of degenerative disc disease are the most intense along the lower back, though they can also affect the neck, arms, legs, and other parts of the body. You may also suffer the symptoms of nerve compression or radiculopathy.

The following are the most common symptoms of degenerative disc disease:

  • Painful symptoms on the lower back, buttocks, and thighs
  • Nagging or severe pain that comes and goes in waves
  • Symptoms worsen when you’re sitting down
  • Symptoms may improve when you’re walking
  • Symptoms worsen when you bend down, lift objects, or twist your spine
  • Symptoms may improve when you lie down
  • Numbness and tingling sensations in your arms and legs
  • Muscle weakness in the legs and other parts of the body

Degenerative Disc Disease: Causes

Degenerative disc disease usually occurs because of the age-related wear and tear of the intervertebral discs. Intervertebral discs are shock absorbers — they consist of a soft nucleus and a hard shell, and they’re responsible for absorbing the shock of movements, preventing your vertebrae from grinding against each other. Degenerative disc disease occurs when the spinal discs become thinner or break down due to age-related wear and tear or injuries.

The following are the possible causes of degenerative disc disease:

  • Age: As you grow older, the intervertebral discs lose water, becoming thinner and weaker. Over time, the spinal discs may collapse completely, causing considerable pain.
  • Dryness: The loss of water from the spinal discs because of age leads to flatter discs without enough cushion or padding to absorb shock, which, in turn, causes mobility issues.
  • Injuries: The spinal discs may develop tears because of the stress of repetitive, everyday movements, such as lifting and twisting, eventually causing a spinal disc collapse.
  • Bulging Discs: The soft nucleus of the spinal disc can bulge out of the cracks in the disc’s walls, leading to a bulging disc that places pressure on the nerve roots.

Degenerative Disc Disease: Treatments

The treatment for degenerative disc disease starts with a thorough assessment and evaluation. Dr. Kakoulides will perform physical tests, discuss your symptoms, and use various imaging tests, such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, to identify the root cause of degenerative disc disease, following which he will curate a personalized treatment plan for you. He starts with conservative treatments before recommending minimally invasive spine surgery — he avoids complex surgical reconstruction, if possible.

The following are your degenerative disc disease treatment options:

  • Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
  • Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)
  • Lateral Interbody Fusion
  • Disc Replacement Surgery
  • Microdiscectomy
  • Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Contact Dr. George Kakoulides

Dr. George Kakoulides is a board-certified neurosurgeon with specialized training in minimally invasive spine surgery. He uses cutting-edge technologies to address the root cause of degenerative disc disease, ensuring safe, optimal, and long-lasting results. He always prefers minimally invasive techniques and only recommends surgical reconstruction if all conservative solutions fail to yield results. Please schedule an appointment to explore your degenerative disc disease treatment options in New York.