What are the Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease?
Initial treatment for degenerative disc disease is usually conservative in nature. Although rare, surgery for degenerative disc disease may be considered if the condition appears to threaten normal nerve function.
The first goal in the treatment of degenerative disc disease is often to relieve any inflammation with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and activity modification. Next, exercises that will target and help strengthen your core muscles, which provide much needed support for your back, may be prescribed. If other underlying conditions (such as osteoarthritis, Herniated Discs, or Spinal Stenosis) are discovered you may require further treatment.
Frequently, physical therapy is the next step in a patient's conservative disc degeneration treatment. To help ensure successful results from physical therapy, epidural steroid injections may be included as an additional treatment. Pain relief and reduced inflammation can be accomplished by delivering medication directly to the source of the pain, which can help in performing the tasks recommended during physical therapy with less discomfort.
When to Consider Degenerative Disc Disease Surgery
Patients who undergo 4-6 weeks of non-surgical treatment with little to no success may benefit from a surgical procedure. For patients suffering from multi-layer disc degeneration, certain surgeries used in the treatment for single degenerated discs are not advised. In cases such as these, alternative options are considered.
If a patient has lost control of their bowel or bladder function, surgery for degenerative disc disease is consider a priority.
It is important that any decisions to proceed with disc degeneration surgery not be made based solely on imaging studies. The degree to which the condition affects patients can differ greatly, even if the degeneration's severity and location are the same. In most cases, a degenerative disc disease operation is advised when quality of life is affected.
What Disc Degeneration Surgery Options are Available?
Disc degeneration surgery can be performed with either a traditional open procedure or a minimally invasive procedure. During an open procedure, the surgeon opens the skin around the problem area to gain access to your spine whereas, with a minimally invasive procedure, the surgeon needs only a small incision to perform the surgery. Open back surgery requires a long recovery and the need for a large amount of pain medications. It also requires general anesthesia and an extended stay in the hospital.
Note From Dr. Liu:
At Atlantic Spine Center, we offer a minimally invasive Endoscopic Discectomy which is performed in a comfortable outpatient setting using only local or intravenous anesthetics without the need of an overnight hospital stay. A minimally invasive procedure heals quicker, has a reduced risk of complications, and requires very minimal amounts of pain medication.