Spinal Degenerative Disease

Spinal degenerative disease is an umbrella term for numerous types of diseases which may occur in the spinal column resulting from ageing and wear and tear that may occur on the spinal bones or soft tissues. An increased strain on the neck and back may increase the chances of the wear and tear to occur. In some cases, these degenerative diseases of the spine may occur simultaneously.

Different types of spinal degenerative diseases are:

  • Herniated discs 
    Herniated discs occur when a fragment of the disc in between the vertebrae bones, is pushed out of the annulus into the spinal canal through a tear or rupture in the annulus.
  • Spinal stenosis
    Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows from a tissue build-up around the spine. It may cause pain as the tissue compresses the nerves and spinal cord.
  • Degenerative disc disease
    Degenerative disc disease is an age-related condition which occurs when one or more vertebrae discs deteriorate or break down, causing pain and spinal injury.

When to see a doctor?

People who may have a spinal degenerative disease may experience symptoms such as:

  • Lower back pain which gets worse when sitting
  • Intensified back pain when bending, lifting and twisting
  • Desire to frequently change positions to ease the pain
  • Spinal deformity
  • Limited mobility
  • Nerve injuries which may cause weakness, sensory loss, sexual dysfunction, bladder and bowel function problems

How are spinal degenerative diseases treated?

Treatment of spinal degenerative disease varies and depends on the specific case. In some cases, some people benefit from conservative therapy including resting, physical therapy and medication, while some cases require neurosurgical treatment. Neurosurgical treatment includes undergoing surgical procedures such as spinal decompression or minimally invasive spinal surgery, where the neurosurgeon will make keyhole incisions to locate and correct parts of the spine where the problem is. Surgery is done to ease pain and restore the spine functionality, but only as a last resort when other conservative treatments have failed.

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