Degenerative disc disease is a condition that is commonly misunderstood. A degenerated disc is not actually a disease—it is part of the normal aging of the spine. When a spinal disc degenerates, it loses its ability to function efficiently as part of the spinal joint, which in turn can lead to back pain and possibly pain that radiates through the extremities.

 

Once the disc has been identified as the source of pain, surgery directly treats that source by removing the degenerated disc. Non-surgical interventions focus on managing the pain and improving back functionality.

If symptoms of lumbar degenerative disc disease are severe after 6 months of nonsurgical treatment, surgical options, including lumbar spinal fusion and artificial disc replacement, are available.

Patients can elect to under go spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement, which are common surgical procedures used to treat degenerative disc disease that is unresponsive to nonsurgical methods.

The stages of the degenerative cascade are dysfunction, relative instability, and re-stabilization. The process usually takes place over 20 to 30 years, and the severity and frequency of pain tends to lessen over time.
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