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Treatments for a degenerative spine offered at Laser Spine Institute’s St. Louis surgery center

Degenerative spine is a term that describes any of the conditions that can occur due to the deterioration of the spine. Many components comprise the spine, including bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves and spinal discs, and any of these can be susceptible to deterioration.

The definition of a degenerative spine

There are many different conditions that can be categorized as a degenerative spine, including spinal osteoarthritis, bulging or herniated discs, spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and more. The common link for these conditions and other forms of a degenerative spine is that they all occur as the result of the gradual wearing down — due to aging — of some component of the spine, and there is often nothing that can be done to prevent them.

What is the diagnosis process for a degenerative spine?

Most often, a degenerative spine diagnosis will be made after your physician has ordered a diagnostic imaging procedure — such as a CT scan or an MRI — to determine the location of the issue that is causing your symptoms. Before the scan takes place, however, you will likely be asked about your full medical history and undergo a thorough physical exam that helps to identify the symptoms you are experiencing.

Are there specific causes of a degenerative spine?

While a traumatic injury can sometimes cause the development of a degenerative spine, in the majority of cases, the natural aging process is the primary reason a degenerative spinal condition occurs. The spine allows the body to bend, twist and move freely, and it is placed under considerable daily stress. After years of day-to-day wear and tear, it’s inevitable that the components of the spine will begin to deteriorate. Additionally, risk factors such as obesity, high-impact sports, alcohol or tobacco use and jobs that require frequent heavy lifting can increase the likelihood of the development of a degenerative spine.

Are the symptoms of a degenerative spine easy to identify?

With so many different conditions classified as degenerative spine, the symptoms that may occur are wide ranging. Some of the more common symptoms include localized or radiating pain, numbness, muscle weakness and tingling. Depending on the location in the spine of the degenerative condition, symptoms could be felt in the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, upper back, lower back, hips, buttocks, legs and feet.

Is there treatment available that will help ease my degenerative spine symptoms?

Once your physician has determined the specific cause of your degenerative spine symptoms, he or she will prescribe a combination of nonsurgical treatment options that, if attempted for several months, will often help patients find the relief they are hoping for. Over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications as well as steroid injections are options that may help reduce your pain in a timely fashion. Other treatments can include exercise to strengthen the back muscles and weight loss to reduce the strain on the spine.

Is there a chance that I will need surgery for a degenerative spine?

Spine surgery may be an option to consider if you’ve tried conservative treatments and are still suffering from painful symptoms of a degenerative spine. Laser Spine Institute in St. Louis offers minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures.^

Contact us today for your no-cost MRI review* to help find out if you are a candidate for our outpatient surgery.