What is Degenerative Spine “Disease”? Degenerative spine “disease” is NOT really a disease, but rather a condition that results from changes that normally occur as the spine ages with time! The word “degeneration” implies a process of decline or deterioration that happens over time. Therefore, as our spine ages:
Are Degenerative Spine Conditions ALWAYS Symptomatic? No, degenerative spine conditions do not always cause symptoms. As a matter of fact, many people who have evidence of degenerative spine processes on imaging studies do not complain of any significant pain, discomfort or spine-related problems.
Does the Word “Degenerative” Imply that the Condition is Progressive and Will Get Worse with Time? The use of the term “degenerative” is meant to describe the ongoing process of degeneration to the spine that occurs over time with aging and wear-and-tear. It is not meant to describe progression of symptoms if they were present!
What Are the Symptoms that Could Result from Degenerative Spine Conditions?
When Should I Seek Treatment? It is important to note that since we can’t reverse or stop the process of aging, the treatment of degenerative spine conditions is not meant to reverse or stop the degenerative processes! Treatment is really provided to address the symptoms that can develop as a result of these degenerative processes. Thus, you should seek medical help and treatment options if:
What Treatment Options Are Available? Several conservative non-surgical options exist. These include:
Patients who have failed conservative therapy, have debilitating pain that is limiting their function and affecting their quality of life, or have neurological compromise would be considered for surgical interventions. Different surgical options exist, including minimally invasive ones. Patients considering surgery should have a detailed discussion with their spine surgeon to address the risks and benefits of the different options available.