A degenerative spine diagnosis isn’t uncommon, though it should by no means be taken lightly. The spine is made up of a complex series of muscles, ligaments, vertebrae, and intervertebral discs. The discs are particularly important because they are designed to act as shock absorbers for the daily movements of other parts of the spine. In addition to allowing for spinal flexibility, the discs also function as ligaments that hold the bony vertebrae together.
Unfortunately, as you grow older, the years of tension and stress that your spine has to endure takes its toll on the intervertebral discs, which ultimately leads to degenerative spine disorders. Age-related changes also cause the discs become drier and thinner, making them more prone to damage. Consequently, the discs can no longer serve their role as shock absorbers. Because the spine is a narrow column filled with nerve tissue, any change in the structural integrity or placement of the discs threatens to impinge on adjacent spinal nerves, which is often what causes painful degenerative spine symptoms.
Two common types of degenerative spine disease are:
- Degenerative disc disease – the breakdown of the intervertebral discs. Conditions like a herniated disc (when the disc breaks open and inner disc material extrudes into the spinal canal), bulging disc (when the disc pushes beyond its normal perimeters), and thinning discs (the discs become dry, brittle, and compressed) are common when a patient is diagnosed with this degenerative spine condition.
- Osteoarthritis – also referred to as degenerative spinal arthritis, this is the breakdown of cartilage located on the spinal facet joints. Osteoarthritis is a common cause of bone spurs, or osteophytes in the spine (extra growths of smooth bone that your body produces as a reaction to excess friction in arthritic facet joints).
Following a degenerative spine diagnosis, the condition can often be successfully treated with a conservative rehabilitation routine, which might include physical therapy, hot and cold compresses, or over-the-counter pain medication. If the symptoms worsen, your doctor may prescribe stronger medication or anti-inflammatory steroid injections.
These degenerative spine treatment options do not work for every patient, but Laser Spine Institute (LSI) may be able to help. We offer minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that are performed using the latest endoscopic technology. Our team of medical experts has helped tens of thousands of people from around the world rediscover a life without pain, with the added benefit of a greatly expedited recovery process compared to traditional surgery. Contact us today to talk about your degenerative spine diagnosis, and to receive a free review of your MRI or CT scan.