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Degenerative Disc Disease

“A very common source of pain as we age that can be simply treated without surgery”

Degenerative disc disease is part of the normal aging process. In many people, it is painless, but in some individuals, it can result in severe debilitating pain. Starting  around the mid-30s, the gel within the disc breaks down, which results in a progressive deterioration of the adjacent bone, muscles, joints and ligaments. This process increases your risk of pain. Genetic inheritance can account for 50-70% of  disc degeneration variability which means that even with extreme care, you cannot escape your family history. High or repetitive mechanical loading and smoking are  thought to play a significant role in the development of pain.

Why your degenerative disc disease hurts.

Degeneration of the normally avascular intervertebral disc allows blood vessels and nerves to penetrate the disc which introduces inflammatory mediators into the area.
Intervertebral disc injuries never fully heal, so continued inflammation causes increasing pain.

Symptoms:

The symptoms of degenerative disc disease can vary widely. The most common symptoms are:
• Painless progression to severe back pain
• Progressive weakness
• Loss of flexibility
• Muscle spasms

If you are experiencing pain or weakness in the spine you could be suffering from degenerative disc disease. Our expert doctors at Spine & Sports Medicine of New York use expertise in innovative assessments to accurately diagnose the pain associated with degenerative disc disease. It is difficult to differentiate normal aging from pathological processes so diagnosis can be challenging, but is very important.

Other diseases that can mimic degenerative disc disease include:

• Fracture
• Infection
• Neoplasm
• Stenosis

Our Board-Certified Physicians Can Accurately Diagnose the Source of Your Pain

We conduct a thorough clinical evaluation to determine if the pain is generated from degenerative disease as well as other conditions that share similar symptoms. We begin our evaluation of your problem with a complete medical history using detailed information gathering tools followed by a focused physical examination. We then confirm our diagnosis with specialized tests which may include x-ray, CT, electrodiagnostic (EMG) studies, ultrasonography, or MRI.

“No surgery is needed to relieve pain related to your degenerative disc disease”

Treatments

Treatment will depend on the source of pain. Treatments may range from simple physical therapy to targeted injections for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. For less severe pain, a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) and physical therapy may be helpful. For more severe pain, trigger point injections for symptoms of myofascial pain or epidural steroid injections may be more helpful.

Here’s what you can expect if one of our pain specialists treats your pain:

• Relief of pain to get you back to living.
• Several treatment options available to target the root of the problem
• May be accompanied by physical therapy to strengthen your core musculature
• Body mechanics awareness to eliminate the source of the pain
• Epidural steroid injections may be helpful
• Many patients gain considerable to complete relief with the first or second procedure
• No general anesthesia, surgery or prolonged recovery periods to slow you down from your busy schedule
• Thousands of patients have been helped by our innovative approach to degenerative disc disease.

References

Benoist M. Natural history of the aging spine. Eur Spine J. 2003 Oct;12 Suppl  2:S86-9.
Kirkaldy-Willis WH, Wedge JH, Yong-Hing K, Reilly J. Pathology and pathogenesis of lumbar spondylosis and stenosis. Spine. 1978 Dec;3(4):319-28.

This sagittal lumbar MRI demonstrates decreased T2 signal and disc space narrowing and disc bulging at  multiple levels demonstrating more advanced degenerative disc disease.

This sagittal lumbar MRI demonstrates decreased T2 signal and disc space narrowing and disc bulging at multiple levels demonstrating more advanced degenerative disc disease.

This sagittal lumbar MRI  demonstrates decreased T2 signal at the L4-5 disc demonstrating the earliest  changes of degenerative disc disease.

This sagittal lumbar MRI demonstrates decreased T2 signal at the L4-5 disc demonstrating the earliest changes of degenerative disc disease.

 

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testimonials

Super great doc! Took time to listen and get to the bottom of my pain. I’m lucky to have found such a thorough doc.

Anonymous
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