Degenerative Disc Disease
In many cases, degenerative disc disease can be treated conservatively with medication for pain and inflammation, physical therapy, a supervised exercise program and modified activity. Heat treatments may also be recommended for stiff muscles or joints as well as the use of ice packs to numb the area when flare-ups occur. Our multidisciplinary approach at SCCNS allows us to also use our pain management team for steroid injections to manage pain while patients are undergoing therapy treatment.
In circumstances where patients have not had any relief after six months of conservative treatment, a lumbar fusion surgery - Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) may be an option to reduce the pain as it will stop the motion at a painful motion segment. Although this is considered a major surgery, it is one of the most common spine surgery and it can be a very effective option for patients so that they can enjoy their normal daily activity and improve their quality of life. The success of lumbar fusions has increased now that minimally invasive surgical techniques are used. Our expert neurosurgeons at SCCNS are at the forefront of minimally invasive fusion surgeries and our goal is to reduce or eradicate pain, decrease post-operative discomfort and downtime as well as preserve more of the normal lower back anatomy.
Artificial disc replacement surgery may also be an option and the benefits and risks will be evaluated by your doctor. This surgery is used to replace the disc instead of fusing the disc space together resulting in the patient having more normal motion in the lumbar spine. This may reduce the chance that adjacent levels of the spine will break down due to increased stress from the lack of mobility associated with fusion surgeries.
Other options are also available and will be evaluated and discussed on a case by case basis to determine what option is the most beneficial for the patient.