How We Can Help You for Degenerative Disc Disease
The doctors in the Stanford Medicine Spine Center have the experience needed to precisely diagnose and effectively treat degenerative disc disease, the condition where the discs between the vertebral bones in your spine break down as you age.
We help relieve the symptoms of degenerative disc disease. Some people may have no symptoms, or the condition may cause pain, numbness, weakness, or tingling.
Our doctors focus on a precise diagnosis of bone or nerve damage and opt for noninvasive treatment whenever possible. Treatment options may include physical therapy and medication. In more severe cases, we also perform all types of spine surgery, from the common to the most complex.
In addition, Stanford Medicine Spine Center patients with degenerative disc disease may have opportunities to participate in research studies of new treatment approaches not yet available anywhere else.
What We Offer You for Degenerative Disc Disease
- Center of Excellence for advanced care of all spine-related conditions.
- Nationally recognized expertise in treating all types of degenerative disc disease, no matter how complex.
- Precise diagnosis options including the latest imaging technology.
- Team-based treatment planning that brings together orthopaedic surgeons, neurologists and neurosurgeons, pain management specialists, rheumatologists, physiatrists, and others to tailor care to your needs.
- Advanced treatment options emphasizing noninvasive approaches whenever possible, including exercises, physical therapy, and medication therapy, and, when needed, spine surgery.
- Comprehensive support services including care coordination from diagnosis to treatment to follow-up.
- Active research program to develop new diagnostic and treatment advances.
Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease
Treatment of this condition has two key goals:
- Relieve pain and any other symptoms
- Prevent the condition from getting worse
The best treatment option for you depends on your condition, overall health, and other factors. Your doctor may recommend one or more approaches, such as:
Degenerative disc disease isn’t really a disease. In most cases, it is a result of the normal aging process.
Specialists in our physical therapy program use the latest techniques and technologies to help treat your degenerative disc disease. Our goals are also to help you return to a more active lifestyle and reduce the risk of reinjuring your spine. In some cases, degenerative disc disease may affect your posture or ability walk normally. Our physical therapists can help you get back in step.
Acupuncture may be an option to treat symptoms. Talk with your doctor about this possible approach.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you receive a steroid injection (sometimes known as an epidural), which delivers a more powerful medication through a shot into a nerve, muscle, or the fluid-filled area around the spinal cord.
To help relieve pain and inflammation, your doctor may recommend one or more over-the-counter medications. Examples include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen.
If needed, your doctor also may recommend prescription medications to help control pain or other symptoms, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
A back brace can help limit motion and support healing.
When necessary, your doctor may recommend replacing one or more damaged discs with artificial discs. This procedure is called a spine arthroplasty. We also perform other surgical procedures, but always as a last resort when we know that noninvasive options are not effective for the patient’s specific condition.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies that are currently recruiting participants or that may recruit participants in the near future.
What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease isn’t actually a disease. It is the condition where the discs between the vertebral bones in your spine break down as you age.
Our doctors focus on precise diagnosis of degenerative disc disease. With a confirmed diagnosis, we deliver noninvasive treatment whenever possible. Options may include physical therapy and medication. In more severe cases, we also perform all types of spine surgery, from the common to the most complex.