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What is the Most Common Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment?

By Madeleine A.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Typically, types of degenerative disc disease treatments range from conservative measures to surgical intervention. Degenerative disc disease is an orthopedic condition that involves intervertebral disc damage. These discs are gel-like soft cushions separating each vertebra of the spine. Degenerative disc disease can cause stiffness and pain in the back or neck that may radiate to the shoulders, trunk, and extremities. Treatment of degenerative disc disease depends on the extent of the condition and severity of symptoms.

Generally, degenerative disc disease treatment will include a combination of medications, rest, and ice packs. Usually, anti-inflammatory medications are very effective degenerative disc disease treatments because they also relieve inflammation, which is a characteristic of the condition. Sometimes, when pain is unrelenting and severe, degenerative disc disease treatment may include prescription pain relieving medication. These medications are often classified as muscle relaxants and opioid-based analgesics. Although effective for pain relief, they may cause significant side effects, including drowsiness, confusion, and nausea.

Sometimes physical therapy, which improves flexibility, strength and range of motion, is used to treat degenerative disc disease. In addition, chiropractic manipulation of the spine and massage are used to relieve tension and muscles spasms. Frequently, patients suffering from disc disease will significantly benefit from physical and occupational therapy services. These therapies discourage muscle deconditioning and promote strength, flexibility, and endurance. Typically, physical and occupational therapy services are performed on an outpatient basis, however, therapists are also available to come to a patient's home, upon the recommendation of the physician.

Frequently, when conservative degenerative disc disease treatment is ineffective, surgical intervention may be necessary to relieve symptoms. Surgical procedures that may be effective in the treatment of degenerative disc disease include discectomy and fusion. This typically involves removing the offending disc, and in its place, putting in another material. Over a period of time, the replacement will fuse with the vertebrae.

Usually, degenerative disc disease treatment is successful and the prognosis is good. In combination with conventional treatment, exercise and trying to improve posture helps reduce the risk of an exacerbation of symptoms. In addition, not smoking and keeping a healthy weight can contribute to faster healing and a healthier back. Excess weight exerts pressure and stress on the vertebra, while smoking can diminish blood flow to muscles. Upon recommendation of the health care provider, individuals who suffer from disc pain can benefit when incorporating low-impact, moderate exercise into his degenerative disc disease treatment.

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