As we age, wear-and-tear on our spinal discs can lead to lower back and neck pain. This condition – commonly referred to as degenerative disc disease – typically consists of chronic pain along with smaller, less frequent episodes of severe pain. Spinal fusion is one route of treatment for degenerative disc disease, but there are other options to consider in consultation with your doctor.
Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
In addition to wear-and-tear, risk factors like obesity, smoking, work involving lots of heavy lifting and injury to the back can increase the likelihood of developing degenerative disc disease. General symptoms of the condition include:
- Pain that gets worse when sitting. This relates to the fact that discs in the lower back have three times more load on them when sitting than when standing.
- Pain that worsens when you lift, bend or twist.
- Severe pain that comes and goes. Depending on where the affected disc is located, this can include shooting pain in your arms or legs as well as weakness and numbness.
- Feeling better when you are walking, running or lying down rather than while standing or sitting.
Spinal Fusion and Other Treatments
Spinal fusion is a type of minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) used to correct spine pain, weakness and instability that can accompany conditions like degenerative disc disease. The procedure uses bone or similar material to promote fusion between two or more vertebrae, ultimately eliminating motion between them and restoring spine strength and stability.
The procedure only requires a hospital stay of about two to three days. Those who get a spinal fusion may experience some pain and discomfort, but it usually can be controlled well with medications.
Before getting a spinal fusion, your doctor may recommend other non-surgical treatments like:
- Over-the-counter and/or prescription pain medication
- Massage therapy
- Epidural steroid injections
- Heat and ice
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery in Baton Rouge
Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) may be used to treat various forms of spinal injury or disease that do not respond to non-surgical treatment methods. MISS utilizes small incisions and special surgical tools such as endoscopes and lasers to allow spine surgery to be performed with minimal disruption to the body and reduced complications. If you are suffering from the signs and symptoms of degenerative disc disease, contact Bone and Joint Clinic of Baton Rouge to learn how our team of orthopedic specialists can help.