Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is the wear and tear of the intervertebral discs, which may result from normal aging or may be due to longstanding trauma.

Information you need

Causes and symptoms of DDD

DDD typically begins with small tears in the annulus of the disc (elastic outer ring of collagen fibers) and can lead to a decrease in the water content of the nucleus of the disc (soft gel center). The degenerative cascade of DDD can lead to disc bulging, development of bone spurs (called osteophytes), and loss of disc space height and/or alignment, which can cause nerve impingement. DDD can also lead to degenerative instability, the loss of the ability of the spine under physiologic loads to maintain its pattern of normal movement due to disc degeneration.

Pain at the site of the injury

Pain, numbness, or tingling in the arms or legs

Pain is worse when bending, twisting, and/or sitting

Lying down relieves pressure on the spine

Non-Surgical Treatments

If DDD is established as a diagnosis, your physician may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

  • Physical therapy and strengthening exercises
  • Rest and a restriction of physical activity
  • Injections (e.g., corticosteroids) to help reduce the pain and swelling
  • Medications and analgesics to reduce pain and swelling; typical medications may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Surgical Procedures

If symptoms do not improve with other methods, your physician may suggest spinal surgery. Surgical solutions for DDD may include:

  • Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
  • Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF)
  • Maximum Access Surgery (MAS®) PLIF
  • Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)
  • eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF®)

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