Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a condition that results in intervertebral disc deterioration. As a disc deteriorates, it may press on the adjacent spinal nerves, which causes radiating pain down a leg or arm. It most commonly leads to persistent back pain due to irritation of the disc’s nerve endings.
Intervertebral discs lie between the vertebrae, which are the spinal bones. These cushioning discs are filled with a watery, gel-like substance. The center portion should contain around 80% water, but with DDD, the water content decreases.
In America, low back pain is a common musculoskeletal problem, and it is the third most frequently reported symptom. Around 20% of all physician visits are related to back pain. In a recent study involving almost 1,000 participants, researchers found that the prevalence of DDD in men under 50 was 71%, and for women, it was 77% in that age group. For men and women over the age of 65 years, DDD affects 90% of people. Thankfully, most people with DDD are not symptomatic.
When discs lose water content, they become less flexible and shorter. Once discs are injured, the spine cannot tolerate stress, which often leads to other problems. Normally, discs act as a cushion between the vertebrae. The cause of disc degeneration is not always known. There are genetic causes and socioeconomic causes such as smoking or repetitive stress.
For many people, degenerative disc disease does not cause any symptoms. However, the most common symptom associated with DDD is back pain, which can gradually increase over time. The pain may radiate (shoots) down an arm or leg, which depends on the location of the DDD.
The doctor can diagnose degenerative disc disease by performing a physical examination and with diagnostic imaging tests. X-rays are used to show bone deterioration, and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan will show damage to the discs and soft tissues. MRI is the best test, as the loss of water leads to a black appearance on MRI and a loss of height.
Treatment of degenerative disc disease includes:
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Both open and Inspired Spine Advanced Minimally Invasive lumbar fusion surgeries can be used to treat patients with degenerative spine disease, including degenerative disc disease (DDD). Degenerative disc disease surgery is often a last resort for patients who have severe back pain that restricts ability to perform daily activities.
According to a recent review of clinical studies, more than 90% of people age 65 years and older have some level of degenerative disc and facet pathology. In addition, presence of DDD on radiographs was associated with 2-fold greater odds of having chronic low back pain. Age-related degenerative changes of the spine contribute to lumbar spinal stenosis. Surgery has been proven to decrease pain and improve functional status for people with spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease.
In a recent clinical study, researchers evaluated long-term clinical durability and safety of patients who had Inspired Spine Advanced Minimally Invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) for DDD. The outcome measures were return to work time, hospital stay time, Oswestry Disability Index, visual analog pain scores, fusion status, pain medication use, and reoperation rate. Researchers found that MIS-TLIF for DDD was a safe, effective procedure that offered long-term clinical durability.
For DDD, several Inspired Spine Advanced Minimally Invasive spine surgeries can help. These include:
What are some advantages of the Inspired Spine Advanced Minimally Invasive spine surgery techniques?
The mini-open approach to degenerative disc disease surgery offers several advantages over traditional, open spine surgeries. Unlike open procedures, Inspired Spine Advanced Minimally Invasive operations can be done on an outpatient basis, and patients avoid a lengthy recovery. In addition, there is less damage to the muscles that surround the spine, so less pain is involved.
Patients tend to have less infection, smaller scars, and better post-operative outcomes with the Inspired Spine Advanced Minimally Invasive spine surgeries. Many clinical studies have shown faster return to activities, decreased narcotic use, and improved cosmesis after Inspired Spine Advanced Minimally Invasive spine surgery. Patients who have Inspired Spine Advanced Minimally Invasive surgery for lumbar decompression also have fewer complications after the procedure.
Compared to traditional procedures, Inspired Spine Advanced Minimally Invasive surgery was pursued to reduce tissue trauma during surgery. Because there is less estimated blood loss and tissue damage, the patient has less postoperative pain and a faster recovery with mini-open spine surgery. Inspired Spine Advanced Minimally Invasive techniques reduce muscle crush injury rates, prevent disruption of tendon attachment at important muscle sites and spinous processes, and minimize soft tissue trauma.
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