Degenerative Disc Disease, medically termed as Spondylosis, is a common spinal condition that describes the gradual changes and deterioration of discs between the vertebrae as we age. Discs are significant as they are categorized as “shock absorbers” – they provide versatile support to our spine while allowing us to flex, bend and twist as well. As we get older, these discs in our spine soon degenerates, and begins to show signs of wear and tear, thereby limiting range of motion and ability to perform such actions due to the pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. Spondylosis usually occurs in the cervical spine region (upper back) and lumbar spine region (lower back).
It is so exceptionally common and nearly everyone will experience some evidence of degenerative disc disease as they age and become older. It is common amongst workers that are usually between the ages of 30 to 50. However, 90% of individuals aged 60 years and above suffer spondylosis. Additionally, women are more susceptible to suffering from degenerative disc disease than males. Smokers have an increasingly higher chance than non-smokers. This may also be hereditary.
Spondylosis may be accompanied or originated due to a disc herniation. The degeneration of discs ultimately makes patients more susceptible to suffer osteoarthritis.
Age: As mentioned previously, the discs and cartilage that support the vertebrae deteriorates, but a main reason to why that happens is because of age. When we are born, our discs contain at least 80% of water in order to make our spines resilient and reinvigorating. As we mature and get older, our bodies begin to lose that water and fluid in our discs. Without a sufficient amount of water, our discs desiccate, which consequently diminishes our flexibility and ability to absorb shocks. In other words, the discs lose the ability to provide cushion to the spine, and this invokes pain and other symptoms.
Herniated Discs: Another cause of spondylosis is a herniated disc. When the annulus or outer layer of the disc is damaged or cracked, the disc is ultimately ruptured. The disc loses its structure and breaks into fragments or bulges, which compresses the nerve roots and vertebrae. This compression hastens the wear and tear of discs.
Injuries & Trauma: Any spinal injury or trauma that leads to a ruptured disc can easily cause Spondylosis. The types of injuries include strains, sprains and fractures, all of which can cause swelling, soreness and instability. This usually leads to lumbago.
Weight: Excessive weight adds pressure on the spine, which hastens the wear and tear of the discs.
Heavy Labor Work: Jobs that require repetitive spinal movement and heavy lifting are at higher risk to suffer spondylosis.
Smoking: Smoking decreases the amount of water we require for our discs, thereby weakening our discs and spinal nerve roots.
Symptoms accompanied with Spondylosis vary from each individual. However, listed are the most common symptoms that patients usually suffer from:
- Pain in the Cervical Spine and/or Lumbar Spine
- Radiating pain to the upper and lower extremities (shoulders, arms, hands, legs, etc.)
- Aching or worsening pain when sitting, walking, bending, lifting or twisting
- Severe pain that may limit or disable your activities of daily living and work
- Numbness, weakness and tingling in the extremities
Minimally Invasive Options and Non-Surgical treatments are quite favorable as a means of treating Spondylosis. A supplementary treatment along with Minimally Invasive Options include, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic Care, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, and the utilization of rest, heat and/or ice can all provide significant relief.
However, if all of the above treatments fail to provide any relief, then surgical intervention will be considered. HEALTHPOINTE’s renowned spinal surgeons are equipped to successfully perform all the complex surgeries needed to treat your Degenerative Disc Disease.
Surgical Treatment options include:
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy With Fusion
- Intervertebral Disc Arthroplasty
- Artificial Disc Replacement