Degenerative disc disease surgery is almost always considered the last resort for dealing with the pain, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness caused by nerve compression associated with the deterioration of an intervertebral disc. In years past, one of the few procedures available to alleviate these symptoms was spinal fusion, which entails the removal of the damaged disc and the permanent immobilization of the affected vertebral segment using bone grafts and metal or plastic hardware. Fusion is usually held in reserve as a treatment option, because the procedure is irreversible and extremely disruptive in the short term. As we move deeper into the 21st century, however, more and more patients are turning to endoscopic spine surgery as an alternative to highly invasive open back or neck surgery.
Conservative Treatment Comes First
Before considering degenerative disc disease surgery of any kind, it is important to attempt to manage your symptoms with a regimen of conservative treatment methods. If you and your doctor can find a way to provide relief without surgery, it is almost always the way to go. Once you’ve had your diagnosis confirmed, take the time to consider all of the conservative treatment options available to you. Common conservative treatments for back or neck pain include:
- Low-impact cardiovascular exercise
- Strength training
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Corticosteroid injections
- Alternative methods, such as chiropractic adjustment
Trial and Error May Be Required !
Because not every conservative treatment method is effective for every patient, it may take some time to formulate the proper combination of methods for you. For instance, you may notice obvious physical limitations when exercising, or subtle adjustments in the strength of prescribed medication. The important thing is to make completely sure that you have given conservative treatment every chance to work. Yet, some patients find that chronic pain and other symptoms associated with a deteriorating disc persist despite repeated attempts at conservative treatment. If several weeks or months have passed, and no form of conservative treatment has proven effective, contact your choice of a good treatment center.