Degenerative Disc Disease Treatments
Non-surgical treatments for degenerative disc disease
At UPMC, we focus on treating the primary symptom of degenerative disc disease. Ice and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can reduce swelling and alleviate pain. If the damaged disc has resulted from other conditions, such as osteoarthritis, a herniated disc, or spinal stenosis, physical therapy and back strengthening and stretching are often prescribed.
Degenerative disc disease surgery
Surgery may be considered when patients do not respond to conservative treatment and are severely limited in performing activities of daily life. At UPMC, our neurosurgeons specialize in minimally invasive surgical procedures that typically allow for a faster recovery.
Spinal fusion can reduce pain by stopping the motion at a painful segment of the spine. The disc is removed from between two vertebrae, then the vertebrae are fused together. This procedure is performed through a single incision in the back.
Another surgical option is artificial disc replacement. Replacing the disc instead of fusing the vertebrae together may allow for more normal motion in the spine. This reduces the chance that other segments of the spine will break down due to increased stress.