degenerative disc disease treatments

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatments: What You Should Know

You may be familiar with many degenerative disc disease treatments, but you may not know why these treatments fail to provide relief for so many patients living with degenerative disc disease. The reason? These treatments are unable to treat the true cause of degenerative disc disease.

But what is this true cause of degenerative disc disease and its associated pain? Annular tears, which are tears or cuts that develop in the outer part of the spinal disc. If enough tears develop or become large enough, the inner part of the spinal disc may begin to leak out. This jelly-like part of the disc can irritate and inflame the nerves and nerve roots surrounding the torn spinal disc. This is what causes neck or back pain as well as pain that may be felt throughout the body, such as the arms, hands, legs, and feet.

If treatment for a spine condition isn’t designed to stop this leaking, it isn’t an effective treatment and will be unable to provide lasting relief. Keep reading to learn more about degenerative disc disease treatments and what can actually treat this condition effectively.

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatments

Degenerative disc disease treatments usually fall under one of two umbrellas: conservative or surgical. Conservative treatments are usually recommended as a patient’s first option, with surgery only being recommended if these treatments fail to provide relief.

degenerative disc disease treatments

Conservative Treatment

Hot and Cold Therapy

Cold packs may be able to decrease back pain associated with degenerative discs and heat packs may be able to reduce the inflammation associated with degenerative disc pain. Many patients are told that using these packs alternately can reduce soreness and inflammation, but while it may provide temporary relief from this, it can’t effectively stop soreness or inflammation. Both of these issues are caused by leaking from annular tears, which hot and cold packs cannot address.

Physical Therapy

As part of physical therapy, stretching and low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and yoga are commonly recommended to provide some relief from back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. While physical therapy may be able to provide temporary relief and help strengthen and support the spine, this is not a lasting solution to degenerative disc disease. Physical therapy can improve posture and overall mobility, but a solution for the annular tears causing the degenerative disc disease pain is still needed.

Medication

If degenerative disc disease treatments like hot and cold therapy and physical therapy don’t provide relief, medication may be prescribed. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Advil) are typically recommended as an over-the-counter option, but if these don’t work your doctor may prescribe pain killers. Your doctor may also recommend epidural steroid injections, which involve injecting medication near your spinal nerves, discs, or joints to reduce inflammation and pain. The goal of steroid injections is generally to provide enough pain relief that the patient may be able to return to everyday activities and make progress in physical therapy.

Unfortunately, along with the risk of dependency that these medications carry, they simply treat pain rather than the root cause of the pain. This provides temporary relief from inflammation and irritation but keeps medication and injections from being an effective solution for degenerative disc disease pain.

Radiofrequency Neurotomy

Radiofrequency neurotomy, also known as radiofrequency ablation, is a treatment that uses electric currents to burn sensory nerves and prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. Using heat generated by radio waves, this treatment targets specific nerves and temporarily turns off their ability to send pain signals. This is done by inserting needles through the skin near the painful area. Imaging scans are also used during this treatment to make sure the needles are positioned properly.

degenerative disc disease treatments

Surgical Treatment

If conservative treatments are exhausted and fail to provide the patient with relief from their pain, surgical treatments will be recommended.

Discectomy

A discectomy’s goal is to remove a portion of the spinal disc in order to relieve pressure on spinal nerves. This is done when a patient is believed to have herniated disc material as a result of disc degeneration that may be pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. It may also be performed as a microdiscectomy, which uses a special microscope to view the spinal disc and nerves. Microdiscectomy allows the surgeon to use a smaller incision and potentially cause less damage to surrounding tissue. Before disc material is removed, the lamina, which is a small piece of bone, may be removed from the affected vertebra. This is known as a laminotomy or laminectomy and allows the surgeon to have a better view of the affected spinal disc. Unfortunately, this does not treat annular tears, making the removal of the spinal disc unnecessary. It also does nothing to prevent the further development of annular tears.

Foraminotomy

Foraminotomy is a surgical procedure that enlarges the area around one of the vertebrae to relieve pressure on compressed nerves. During foraminotomy, the surgeon will make an incision on your back or neck to expose the affected vertebra. Intervertebral foramen is then surgically widened, removing any blockages causing compression. Unfortunately, this surgical procedure, like degenerative disc treatments using surgery does not address annular tears.

Laminectomy

Laminectomy is a surgery in which a part or all of the vertebral bone is removed. This eases pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve roots that may have been caused by injury, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or tumors. As mentioned previously, this may sometimes be performed as part of a discectomy or microdiscectomy.

Osteophyte Removal

Bone spurs are smooth, bony lumps that grow off of a bone. They usually develop near joints over long periods of time. During this procedure, special tools are used to remove bone spurs from the vertebrae. However, it is possible for bone spurs to grow back after removal, requiring another surgical procedure like laminectomy or foraminotomy. In addition to this, if a patient’s degenerative disc disease pain is caused by annular tears, this procedure cannot provide effective pain relief.

Spinal Fusion 

This may be the most common procedure recommended for degenerative disc disease treatment. During spinal fusion, two or more vertebrae are connected to improve the stability of the spine. This eliminates motion between the vertebrae, but it also places increased stress on the rest of the spine, potentially causing the development of annular tears and disc degeneration in other spinal discs. In addition to this, limiting the spine’s motion doesn’t stop annular tears from leaking and causing pain.

Treating Degenerative Disc Disease With the Discseel® Procedure

Leaking discs caused by annular tears are the true cause of degenerative disc disease pain. This is why degenerative disc disease treatments must address these tears to be effective. The problem is that no surgical procedure is designed to stop this leaking or address annular tears in any way. Conservative treatments are unable to address tears as well, making both types of treatment ineffective in most cases.

Fortunately, the Discseel Procedure is the most effective way to treat back and neck pain caused by annular tears. This procedure was designed to treat pain resulting from spinal conditions by directly addressing annular tears. The Discseel Procedure is non-surgical, minimally invasive, and has a much quicker recovery time than surgery. In fact, you’ll be able to go home or to your hotel the same day as your procedure. You’ll even be able to be up and walking around within 24 hours!

Whether your pain is caused by chronic lower back pain, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, or sciatica, the Discseel Procedure may be able to help you. Apply for the Discseel Procedure today and find out if you’re a candidate.