What are degenerative conditions of the spine?

Degenerative conditions of the spine are sometimes called degenerative spine disease. It usually occurs as individuals age and involves the gradual loss of the normal function and structure of the spine over time. Degenerative spine conditions can also be caused from arthritis, tumors or infections. The condition refers to damage in the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) spine. Degenerative conditions of the lumbar and cervical spine can affect the bones, cartilage, discs, and ligaments. The experts at BICMD are skilled at diagnosing and explaining treatment options through our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform. You can have a one-on-one visit about your spine condition and receive the best orthopedic medical advice available without ever leaving home.

What is degenerative disc disease?

The stressors that we put the spine under every day can eventually have a negative impact. One of the many conditions that can affect the spine is degenerative disc disease, a common wear-and-tear condition of the spine. This occurs when the cushioning discs between the vertebrae become dry and weak, making them more prone to damage. The deterioration of the discs can then affect the ligaments and muscles that are part of the spine. While it is true that every person’s discs break down over time, not every person will feel pain from this condition. The patients who do feel pain related to the wear-and-tear of the disc are often diagnosed with degenerative disc disease.

What are degenerative lumbar and cervical spine conditions?

There are a number of spine conditions that affect the cervical and lumbar spine. A few that are associated with the lumbar and cervical spine and are considered as degenerative are:

  • Bone Spurs – Caused by arthritis and become painful when pressing on a nearby nerve
  • Osteoarthritis – When the cartilage that protects the bones deteriorates and causes a bone-on-bone condition.
  • Herniated Disc or Bulging Disc  – Occurs when the disc between the vertebrae protrudes and presses on a nerve (bulging) or when the jelly-like substance in the center of the disc breaks through the protective outer layer, pressing on the nerves of the spine.
  • Cervical Spinal Stenosis  – Most commonly caused by bulging or herniated discs, bone spurs and spondylolisthesis.
  • Lumbar Spinal Stenosis – in the lower back, commonly caused by bulging or herniated discs, bone spurs and spondylolisthesis.
  • Spondylolisthesis – A condition that occurs in the lumbar spine, when one vertebrae slides, or slips forward, onto the bone below.

What are symptoms of degenerative lumbar and cervical spine conditions?

Not everyone with a degenerative lumbar or cervical spine with have symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, patients most often complain of the following:

  • Sharp or constant pain in the neck or lower back
  • Pain that comes and goes
  • Pain that feels worse when lying down or sitting, but resolves when moving or walking
  • Limited motion, stiffness
  • Spinal deformity

Degenerative conditions of the lumbar and cervical spine that affect surrounding nerves can have symptoms of:

  • Numbness in the arms, hands, (cervical) or legs and feet (lumbar)
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction (lumbar)
  • Sexual dysfunction (lumbar)
  • Loss of feeling

How are degenerative conditions of the lumbar and cervical spine diagnosed?

The orthopedic spine specialist at BICMD will carefully review your symptoms, go over your medical history and can give an expert opinion after looking at your diagnostic tests. These tests may include an x-ray, or an MRI. An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is one of the best diagnostic tools to determine degenerative conditions of the spine. The detailed images produced can help the doctor see the bones, soft tissues, ligaments and cartilage. Computed tomography (CT) scan may also be used, especially if there are any inconsistencies between the MRI and the reported symptoms.

What is the best treatment for degenerative conditions of the spine?

The best treatment for your specific degenerative spine condition can be obtained from our orthopedic experts at BICMD. They can offer a first or second opinion during your telemedicine visit. Treatment may be surgical or non-surgical, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Treatment options may include:

Non-surgical treatment:

  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medication, such as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Activity modification
  • Bracing
  • Steroids
  • Spinal injections

Surgical treatment:

  • Anterior cervical discectomy with fusion (ACDF)
  • Cervical laminoplasty
  • Lumbar laminectomy
  • Lumbar fusion
  • Lumbar microdiscectomy

For more information and resources on degenerative conditions of the lumbar and cervical spine, or to obtain a 2nd opinion before having a surgical procedure, please contact our specialists, by clicking on “Connect With a Doctor.” You will be connected to one of our orthopedic telemedicine experts through our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform.