Degenerative Disc Disease Treated by Mercy Neurosurgeons

Neurosurgery at Mercy - Baltimore, MD

At The Minimally Invasive Brain and Spine Center at Mercy our neurosurgeons are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art treatment options for spine conditions including degenerative disc disease.

(Degenerative disc disease - also spelled - degenerative disk disease. For the purposes of this website Mercy Medical Center will use the spelling disc.)

About the Condition

Disc degeneration, also known as disk degeneration, is part of the normal aging process. In young people, the discs are very elastic and have high water content. As people age, they naturally loose the disc molecules responsible for its elasticity and water content. This process is known as disc degeneration. 

Genetic predisposition, overuse, or injury can accelerate the degenerative process. As disc elasticity wanes and the central disc becomes soft, more stress is transferred to the fibrous tissues surrounding the central disc (the annulus). With time, fibers in the overloaded annulus begin to fail, the annulus bulges, and the disc becomes narrower (shorter).

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Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Disc degeneration can occur without major symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they typically include pain and weakness.

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Treatment Options

Many patients with degenerative disc disease can obtain pain relief with a combination of:

  • Short-term bracing
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy

If these treatments are not effective and severe pain is still limiting daily activities, surgery may be necessary.

The most common surgery for painful disc degeneration in the lumbar spine is posterior surgical fusion, in which part of the lower area of the spine is fused together to prevent movement and reduce pain.