Degenerative disc disease is generally associated with the aging. As you age, your discs start degenerating (breaking down) and become problematic: that is a natural component of growing older as the body deals with years of strain, overuse, and even misuse. However, Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) may occur in people as young as 20, sadly, youth doesn’t always protect you from the disc-related conditions. In fact, some people may also inherit a prematurely aging spine.

Causes of Degenerative Discs Disease

There are various possible causes of DDD. Sometimes discs become so dry and shrunken due to leaking of protein from the disc. Degenerative disc disease can be a result of acute or chronic trauma, infection, or the natural processes of aging.

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

Local Pain
Restricted activity or Loss of mobility
Muscle tingling, weakness, or numbness
Symptom relief with certain movements
Radiating upper body symptoms with cervical degenerative disc diseases
Pain that worsens when sitting, lifting, bending or twisting
Pain in the neck, low back, buttocks, or thighs,
Pain that feels better when changing positions, walking or lying down
Periods of severe pain that gets better after a few days or months
Numbness and tingling into the legs
Weakness in the legs

Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease

Non Surgical Treatment

For acute neck pain, our physicians prescribe pain relief medications that may include acetaminophen, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatory agents. A brace or temporary bed rest may also be advised. In most of the cases patients are encouraged to get up and increase their activities of daily living.

Physical therapy is the other option that usually includes stretching exercises in order to improve flexibility and extension exercises so that the spine's natural curve could be maintained. A hot or cold therapy and gentle massage can be beneficial for the neck pain. After acute symptoms, patients are encouraged to follow a daily exercise routine. This may involve low impact aerobics three times in a week as well as daily neck exercises.

Degenerative Disc Disease Surgery

Patients suffering from a ruptured disc, herniated disc or degenerative disc disease, and have failed to respond conservative therapy are often treated with an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Cervical Corpectomy.

Anterior Cervical Discectomy- This procedure is about reaching the cervical spine through a very small incision in the front of the neck. The intervertebral disc is then removed and replaced with a small plug of bone, and in time, will fuse the vertebrae. Since Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion remains the gold standard for treatment of the degenerative conditions of the cervical spine and cervical disc herniations, the use of motion sparing techniques like artificial disc placement are under the investigation worldwide.

Cervical Corpectomy- This procedure is about removing a portion of the vertebra and adjacent intervertebral discs that allows for decompression of the spinal nerves and cervical spinal cord. A bone graft, and, in some cases, screws and a metal plate, stabilizes the spine.