Degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine can cause pain in the lower back, hips, and legs. Painful disc degeneration is common in the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine).
These areas of the spine undergo the most motion and stress, and are most susceptible to disc degeneration.
Cervical Disc Degeneration
Cervical degenerative disorders refer to conditions, such as cervical degenerative disc disease, which can occur as bones and discs in the neck age and form bone spurs that pinch the nerves and/or spinal cord in the neck. Bone spurs are growths that form on the bones in the spine. These conditions may limit a person’s ability to function in their daily life due to pain in the neck and/or arms. Weakness in the arms and legs can develop as well. Signs and symptoms of cervical degenerative disc disease and other cervical degenerative disorders include:
- Neck pain
- Pain that radiates to the upper back and shoulder blades
- Radiculopathy, or pain that radiates into one or both arms and is caused by compression and inflammation of a nerve
- Numbness and tingling that radiates into the arms and hands
Lumbar Disc Degeneration
Lumbar degeneration affects the intervertebral discs, facet joints and supporting ligaments of the spine. These degenerative changes can lead to instability developing in the lumbar spine, such as spondylolisthesis or scoliosis. In addition, these degenerative changes can begin to secondarily compress nerves contained within the spine, leading to pain, numbness and tingling in the legs, known as spinal stenosis. Spinal Stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces where the nerves travel within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back and the neck.
Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease
In the case of a herniated or bulging lumbar disc, nerves can become compressed, leading to pain and numbness in the legs. Our surgeons can surgically remove pressure from these compressed nerves, improving pain and function. This can often be done through a minimally invasive approach, which leads to accelerated rehabilitation and return to full function.
Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
In cases where the entire spinal canal is narrowed due to degenerative changes, nerve compression can lead to pain, numbness and tingling in the legs, as well as difficulty walking. Our surgeons can perform a laminectomy procedure, which removes the pressure from nerves, leading to significant improvement in pain and function.
Posterior Cervical Laminectomy and Fusion
In some cases, in addition to nerve decompression, a fusion operation is necessary to restore stability to the spine. Traditionally, this was a major surgery with a prolonged recovery period. Our surgeons now offer a variety of minimally invasive procedures to get you back to full function as soon as possible. They are actively helping to pioneer the next generation of minimally invasive and robotic spinal fusion procedures.