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Degenerative Disc Disease

Wear and tear on your back is a normal part of aging. Over time, the discs that act as shock absorbers between your vertebrae start to wear down.

Though most people over age 60 have signs of this type of degeneration of the discs in their back, some people experience pain as a result. This is called degenerative disc disease. It happens when a disc that's weakened by the normal aging process tears. This typically happens in the low back (lumbar spine) and the neck (cervical spine)—though it can occur in the thoracic spine as well.

Degenerative disc disease can be painful, but it is treatable. That's where Twin Cities Spine Center comes in. Our team of spine experts can accurately diagnose degenerative disc disease and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Diagnosing Degenerative Disc Disease

Symptoms of degenerative disc disease include pain in the affected area of the spine that may radiate into the arms or legs, depending on the affected area.

If you have these symptoms, our team can conduct a physical examination along with imaging tests to accurately diagnose the cause.

Nonsurgical Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease

Most people don't need surgery for degenerative disc disease. In fact, many people find that physical therapy helps them heal. Toning the back and abdominal muscles can help support your weakened spine, and that could reduce your pain. Physical therapy and strengthening can also help you to maintain good posture while sitting and standing, managing some of the spine pain. Activity modification is also helpful.

If ongoing pain is an issue, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen might help. We can help you to understand how much of these medications to take and how often to take them. An epidural steroid injection is another option that may be considered for pain relief.

Surgery for Degenerative Disc Disease

If you don't respond to nonsurgical treatments like physical therapy and injections, we can discuss spinal surgery options. Our surgeons are adept at performing a number of disc surgeries, including removal of the disc (discectomy), decompression of the nerves or spinal fusion. We'll explain your surgery options to you in terms you can understand. And we'll supervise your recovery, too, so you'll have all the support you need as you heal.