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Degenerative Disc



Even though degenerative discs can affect all parts of the spine, the most common parts are the lumbar (back) and the cervical (neck) spine.

Degenerative Discs in the mid-back (thoracic) are uncommon.

X-ray findings of Degenerative Discs show narrower disc spaces and some osteophyte (bony outgrowth of spur) formation. As we age, these changes tend to appear on the X-rays of most men and women.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) usually detects Degenerative Discs, before x-rays can diagnose them. Loss of water content (hydration) in the invertebral disc is usually the first finding, which is followed by narrowing of the disc space.

People in their 20's and 30's may already have changes to their discs but there is usually no associated symptoms.

As the aging process continues, the occurrence of Degenerative Discs increases.

In the early phases of Degenerative Discs, small tears, degeneration, fibrosis, and collapse of the disc may lead to failure of mechanical function.

This is associated with low back pain and possible leg pain (sciatica) if there is any nerve root impingement (radiculopathy).

As Disc Degeneration continues, there is soft tissue buckling and lipping and spurring which can cause narrowing of the space for the spinal cord and nerve roots. Lumbar spinal stenosis is the actual narrowing of the spinal canal and foramina (small channels) to the extent of compression of the lumbosacral nerve roots or cauda equina.

Lumbar stenosis is caused primarily by degenerative disease of the spine. However, a congenitally narrow or small spinal canal is a common finding; when present, it requires less disc degeneration, smaller disc herniation, or osteophytes to cause symptoms.

Disc Diagram

Causes and Risk Factors of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease can result from injury (either acute or chronic/repetitive), infection, or the natural processes of aging. It has been referred to as the "grey hairs of the spine."

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

The process of degeneration of the spine may lead to local pain, stiffness, and restricted activity. If there is disc herniation or rupture, there may also be leg/groin/knee pain dependent upon which nerve root is affected.

Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease

Spinal decompression has been an alternative treatment method for those suffering from Degenerative disc disease. You first must determine if you are a candidate for spinal decompression.

Many people have found success in treating their condition.

How do you get started?

Contact our office at (651) 257-DISC to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Virga to determine your individual situation. After carefully studying your case history and exam findings, Dr. Virga will sit down and explain his recommended plan of action for you.

After answering any questions you may have about the recommended plan, you may begin your care.

Dr. Joseph Virga
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