Degenerative Disk Disease


CONDITIONS

Degenerative Disk Disease

Degenerative disk disease is a condition in which the fibrous disks that serve as shock absorbers between the spine’s vertebral bones become more brittle, shrink and otherwise lose their sponge-like quality due to a decline in their moisture content as a person ages. As the disks dry out, they flatten, allowing the vertebral facet joints above and below them to rub against each other. This, in turn, may cause the development of bone spurs that can press on a nerve root, causing pain, numbness and weakness throughout the area that the nerve supplies. The process of disk degeneration may be accelerated by trauma from a sports injury, car accident or fall, or from excessive bending, lifting and twisting as part of one’s job. It can occur in any part of the spine but is most often symptomatic in the neck and lower back. This condition is usually treated via nonsurgical means, including oral medications for pain and inflammation, physical therapy, specially targeted exercises and strategies for addressing poor posture and ergonomic issues. When necessary, epidural or facet joint injections may also be employed to provide temporary relief from a patient’s symptoms and allow him or her to continue their rehabilitation. Surgery is a last course of action for treating degenerative disk disease, but when necessary may entail a minimally invasive microdiscectomy or other spinal decompression procedure.
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