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Degenerative Disc Disease

Understanding Degenerative Disc Disease And The Treatments Available To You

Diagnosis and Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease in Birmingham and Hoover, Alabama

Most older adults will experience some degree of spinal degeneration. Some patients develop a condition called degenerative disc disease that results in neck or back pain. At Southlake Orthopaedics, patients can receive board-certified, multi-specialty care from a team of compassionate physicians. Offering diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of spine conditions, Southlake Orthopaedics treats patients in Birmingham and Hoover, Alabama, and the surrounding areas.

Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms

Symptoms can vary by patient and depend on the location and severity of disc degeneration. Patients may experience back or neck pain that:

  • Radiates to the buttocks, thighs, arms, or hands
  • Gets worse after bending or twisting the spine
  • Is chronic or intermittent


Some patients develop growths called bone spurs which occur when vertebrae rub against one another without a cushion. Bone spurs can compress the nerves in the spinal canal, a condition called myelopathy. Patients with compressed nerves might notice numbness or tingling in their extremities, have difficulty walking, or even begin to lose bladder or bowel function.

Degenerative Disc Disease Causes

Wear and tear on the spinal discs is a natural result of the aging process. Over time, these discs begin to weaken and break down. They may flatten or bulge out of one side of the spine. Age-related conditions like osteoporosis can speed up the process of disc degeneration. While anyone can develop disc degenerative disease, certain people are at a higher risk:

  • Patients who smoke
  • Patients who are obese or have poor posture
  • Patients who work in occupations that require frequent bending, lifting, and twisting

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatments

Patients who are diagnosed with degenerative disc disease may benefit from conservative care. This includes:

  • Physical therapy: Working with a physical therapist can strengthen the muscles in the back, providing more support for the spine.
  • Oral medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage symptoms.
  • Injection treatments: Corticosteroid injections into the disc space can reduce inflammation, providing symptom relief.


In some cases, severe degenerative disc disease may require surgery. Southlake Orthopaedics does not rush to perform surgery and will always attempt to resolve pain with conservative care first. Surgical options include:

  • Artificial disc replacement: This surgery replaces a worn or damaged disc with a prosthetic.
  • Spinal decompression surgery: These procedures relieve pressure on the spinal nerves. Patients may need a discectomy, foraminotomy, or laminectomy.
  • Spinal fusion: If less invasive procedures do not offer pain relief, a patient may require fusion surgery to connect two or more vertebrae.
  • Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF): This procedure combines decompression and fusion surgery and is usually used for patients with significant neck pain. It involves removing the damaged disc and implanting a bone graft to fuse the cervical (neck) vertebrae.


Patients who are at high risk for degenerative disc disease may be able to take proactive steps to preserve their spine health. This includes avoiding tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight, and staying physically active. People who work in occupations that put stress on the spine should wear the proper safety equipment and use a back brace if needed.

Worker in warehouse with boxes placing hands on lower back

Why Choose Southlake Orthopaedics for Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment and Services

Patients at Southlake Orthopaedics benefit from personalized care combined with cutting-edge medical technology. The team of experienced orthopedists, physician assistants, and rehabilitation specialists work collaboratively to ensure each patient achieves the best possible health outcomes. In addition to spine issues, the medical staff can treat conditions of the:

  • Foot and ankle
  • Hand and elbow
  • Hips, knees, and shoulders


Southlake Orthopaedics has an in-house physical therapy department, as well as a dedicated osteoporosis clinic. And with onsite testing and imaging capabilities, patients do not need to visit a separate facility for an X-ray or MRI.

Find Relief for Degenerative Disc Disease at Southlake Orthopaedics

For less pain, and more living, choose Southlake Orthopaedics. From diagnosis to surgery and rehabilitation, patients receive comprehensive orthopedic care. Southlake Orthopaedics offers treatment at two convenient locations:


Southlake Orthopaedics accepts many private health insurance plans, as well as Medicaid and Medicare. For more information on treatment for degenerative disc disease, call 205-985-4111 or contact us today.