Degenerative spinal conditions are caused by the loss of normal spine structure and function. These conditions usually happen naturally during the aging process, but can also be caused by arthritis, tumors, or infections in the spine. They often interfere with your daily life and activities and can be extremely frustrating.
- Herniated Discs
- Degenerative Spondylolisthesis
- Spinal Stenosis
- Osteoarthritis / Degenerative Discs
Discs are the cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, occurs when the soft insides of the disc push out through the tougher exterior of the disc. Most herniated discs occur in the lower back (lumbar spine), though they may also happen in the neck (cervical spine) and even less commonly in the midback (thoracic spine).
Symptoms of a herniated disc include pain, numbness or weakness due to irritation of the surrounding nerves or spinal cord, affecting either the arms or legs.
Non-surgical treatments include medication (both prescription and over-the-counter), physical therapy, short-term bracing of the lower back or neck, or even epidural injections.
Nine out of 10 people
do not require surgery
to relieve a herniated disc.
In patients who fail to improve with some of these non-surgical treatments or who have worsening pain, function or nerve symptoms, surgery can relieve symptoms.
Degenerative Spondylolisthesis (Slipped Vertebrae)
Spondylolisthesis, or slipped vertebrae, is a very common condition and occurs when one vertebra slides forward over the one beneath it. It is most common in the lower back/tailbone area (lumbosacral spine). The slipped vertebra can pinch the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in pain, numbness and weakness in the lower back, buttocks and legs, and in some cases, loss of bladder or bowel control.
Treatments include medication, physical therapy, and surgery when necessary. Many of these surgical procedures are performed in the Restore Outpatient Surgery Center.
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal cord in the neck (cervical spine) or the spinal nerve roots in the lower back (lumbar spine) are compressed. Symptoms of lumbar stenosis often include leg pain (sciatica) and leg tingling, weakness, or numbness. Often patients with spinal stenosis have difficulty walking long distances without leg pain and need to stop frequently and sit down in order to alleviate the pain. Arm pain is a typical symptom of cervical spinal stenosis. For cervical spinal stenosis with myelopathy, difficulty with coordination.
Treatments include medication, exercise, physical therapy, steroid injections, and for those who have not responded to conservative treatments or whose pain is debilitating, surgery may be a great option.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. It is caused when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down and results in the bones of the joints to rub together, creating inflammation and pain. OA of the spine can lead to lost flexibility, bone spurs (osteophytes), irritated nerves, spinal stenosis, and sciatica.
Symptoms of OA include pain, tenderness, stiffness, inflammation, and loss of flexibility. It can be treated with medication/supplements, physical therapy, cortisone injections, and surgery.
Degenerated discs, while part of the normal aging of the spine, can result in loss of the efficient function of the spine, which in turn can lead to back pain and possibly pain that radiates through the extremities.
While symptoms can be managed, OA and degenerated discs cannot be reversed.
It is important to stay active, maintain a healthy weight, and follow your doctor’s recommendations in order to minimize your pain and slow the progression.
Surgical treatment of degenerative spinal conditions may be needed when non-surgical treatments haven’t been able to improve pain or function. In patients whose pain does not improve (or worsens) or whose activity level or quality of life is limited, surgery can have tremendous benefits.
Surgery for degenerative spinal conditions depends on the type of problem, the location of the problem in the spine, and several other factors. A thorough evaluation is necessary to determine the best surgical procedure for you. While every attempt is made to limit the extent of surgery with minimally-invasive techniques, this may not be appropriate for everyone.
Non-surgical treatment is the primary approach for patients with degenerative spinal conditions as most people can have significant improvements.
Non-surgical treatments include:
- Anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or nerve medications
- Physical therapy or exercise protocols
- Chiropractic, massage, acupuncture
- Epidural or other injections
- Minimally-invasive spinal fusion
- Lateral interbody fusion (XLIF)
- Posterior interbody fusion (PLIF, TLIF)
- Anterior interbody fusion (ALIF)