Degenerative Disc

What is degenerative disc disease?

The spine, which is also known as the body’s backbone, protects the spinal cord, bears the weight of the body and facilitates movement. Vertebral bones are stacked atop one another which then form the spinal column. Most of the vertebrae are separated by intervertebral discs, which are made up of cartilage and fibers. These discs account for almost ¼ of the spine’s length. They absorb shock and strain, and also cushion the spine as it flexes, twists and bends.

 

Although intervertebral discs are almost entirely comprised of water, collagen and proteoglycans, these three components are present at different levels between the disc’s exterior and interior. Its nucleus is soft, gel-like, and contains a substantial amount of water. This gelatinous center is surrounded by a hard, protective outer casing.

Despite having this supportive surface, intervertebral discs are still very vulnerable to damage. As we age, our spines begin to lose water content, which makes them deteriorate. Discs begin to compress, tear or rupture. Degenerative disc disease refers to this natural process, where as a person grows older, general wear and tear affects the intervertebral discs.

Degenerative disc disease most often occurs in the lower back (also known as the lumbar spine) and neck (also known as the cervical spine). This disease causes pain, pressure, and nerve damage. If left untreated, degenerative disc disease can cause serious and debilitating spinal issues. Some severe complications can sometimes originate from degenerative disc disease, such as: spinal stenosis, herniated discs, collapsed discs, and spinal cord injuries.


Degenerative Discs: Causes

One of the prominent causes of degenerative disc disease is the natural effect of aging. Still, certain medical factors can exacerbate and intensify degenerative disc disease, including:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity or carrying excess weight
  • Improperly lifting heavy objects
  • Making repetitive, strenuous movements
  • A sudden, serious injury, such as one that may result from a fall, car accident or high-impact sport

Other complications such as osteoporosis, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and other spinal problems can surface as a result of degenerative disc disease. If you believe you may be at risk for degenerative disc disease, talk to your doctor about how to maintain long-term spinal health. By practicing proper precautions and making certain lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of contracting premature spine-related difficulties while proactively warding off issues later in life.


Degenerative Discs: Symptoms

As with most back, neck, and spine issues, degenerative disc disease is associated with a variety of symptoms and can easily be confused with other conditions. If you think you may be suffering from degenerative disc disease, schedule a consult with one of our Board-certified spine surgeons to attain a comprehensive and accurate diagnosis. Some of the symptoms from degenerative disc disease include:

  • Acute or chronic neck or back pain that may be dull and aching, or sharp and pronounced
  • Limited mobility and discomfort when trying to participate in everyday activities
  • Neck or arm pain, if the damaged disc is located in the neck
  • Back, buttock, and leg pain, if the damaged disc is located in the lower back
  • Pain that worsens when bending, reaching, sitting or twisting

If you or a loved one starts having a fever or bladder or bowel incontinence, please call 911 immediately. These may be signs that a medical emergency is occurring.


Our Minimally Invasive Treatment Approach

Although degenerative disc disease affects many men and women as they grow older, these debilitating symptoms do not have to be a permanent aspect of your daily life. Our team of experienced spine specialists are committed to helping you find safe and compassionate solutions for your symptoms. By providing personalized, state-of-the-art care, we strive to ensure that patients return to their everyday lives without being hindered by pain or the fear of developing more complications.

During your initial consultation, one of our experienced surgeons will carefully evaluate your medical history and physical state. To obtain a comprehensive and clear diagnosis, imaging tests like a CT scan, X-ray or MRI may be requested. Based upon the information gathered, we will design a personalized treatment plan tailored to meet your needs.



About Us

The first in Texas to perform micro-endoscopic laser spine surgery with an incision as small as 3 mm, Dr. Won advises multiple international spine technology companies and has helped design many groundbreaking tools for the minimally invasive spine surgery industry.

Dr. Won also innovated the Pain Mapping procedures, this diagnostic study helps to pin point the pain generator so that we can provide the least invasive spine procedures, LuMINI.

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