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Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment in Charlotte NC

Treated by Southern Pain and Spine Specialists - serving Matthews, Charlotte, and the surrounding areas

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

This condition is a weakening of one or more vertebral discs, which normally act as a cushion between the vertebrae. This condition can develop as a natural part of the aging process, but it may also result from injury to the back.

The risk with degenerative disc disease is that it often leads to fusion surgeries. These surgeries create habits that cause weaker abdominal muscles, which means that 30% of all fusion surgeries then require a followup fusion surgery. It is a depressing cascade of events which can often be halted with regenerative medicine

Disc Wall Tears

Degenerative disc disease typically occurs when small tears appear in the disc wall, called the annulus. These tears can cause pain.

Disc Wall Heals

When the tears heal, they create scar tissue that is not as strong as the original disc wall. If the back is repeatedly injured, the process of tearing and scarring may continue, weakening the disc wall.

Disc Center Weakens

Over time, the nucleus (or center) of the discs begin to degenerate, and loses some of its water content. This center is called the pulposus, and its water content is needed to keep the disc functioning as a shock absorber for the spine.

Nucleus Collapses

Unable to act as a cushion, the nucleus collapses. The vertebrae above and below this damaged disc slide closer together. This improper alignment causes the facet joints – the areas where the vertebral bones touch – to twist into an unnatural position.

Bone Spurs Form

In time, this awkward positioning of the vertebrae may create bone spurs. If these spurs grow into the spinal canal, they may pinch the spinal cord and nerves (a condition called spinal stenosis). The site of the injury may be painful.


Some people experience pain, numbness or tingling in the legs. Strong pain tends to come and go. Bending, twisting and sitting may make the pain worse. Lying down relieves pressure on the spine

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease

Aging: One of the primary causes of DDD is the natural aging process. Over time, the spinal discs lose moisture and elasticity, leading to wear and tear on the vertebral discs.

Genetics: Genetic factors can play a role in predisposing individuals to DDD, making them more susceptible to disc-related issues.

Trauma: Traumatic events, such as accidents or injuries, can accelerate disc degeneration. These events may result in herniated discs, disc bulges, or other structural problems that contribute to DDD.

Occupational Factors: Certain occupations involving heavy lifting, repetitive motions, or prolonged sitting can increase the risk of DDD. Chiropractic care and other treatments can be essential in managing symptoms and preventing further deterioration.

Symptoms of Disc Degeneration

The symptoms associated with DDD often include:

Chronic Back Pain or Neck Pain: Patients frequently experience persistent, dull, aching pain in the back or neck, typically localized to the affected disc area.

Radiating Pain: Pain can radiate into the buttocks, thighs, arms, or legs due to nerve compression or irritation resulting from degenerated discs.

Stiffness: Stiffness in the spine is a common symptom, especially after periods of inactivity.

Weakness or Numbness: Weakness or numbness in the limbs may occur when nerves are affected by herniated or bulging discs.

Pain Aggravation: Symptoms can worsen with certain movements or activities, such as bending or lifting.

Temporary Relief: Rest or changes in posture may provide temporary relief, but the pain typically returns without proper treatment.

At Southern Pain and Spine Specialist in Charlotte, NC, our skilled team is dedicated to diagnosing and effectively treating DDD and related spinal conditions. We offer a range of treatment options, both non-surgical and advanced procedures, to help patients manage pain and improve their quality of life. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or suspect you have DDD, please do not hesitate to contact our expert team for personalized care and tailored treatment options. Your spinal health is our priority.

Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatment Options

We offer a variety of treatment options for Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) to cater to our patients’ specific needs. These treatment options can be broadly categorized into non-surgical and surgical approaches, depending on the severity of the condition and the individual patient’s circumstances.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy plays a crucial role in managing DDD. It includes exercises and stretches to improve spinal flexibility, strengthen supporting muscles, and alleviate pain.

Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and prescription medications may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation associated with DDD.

Epidural Steroid Injections: These injections deliver anti-inflammatory steroids directly into the epidural space to reduce pain and inflammation around affected discs.

Facet Joint Injections and Medial Branch Blocks: These injections target specific areas of the spine to provide pain relief by blocking nerve signals responsible for transmitting pain.

Occipital Nerve Blocks: These injections are used to alleviate head and neck pain associated with DDD.

Radiofrequency Ablation: This minimally invasive procedure uses radiofrequency energy to target and disrupt pain signals from the affected nerves, providing long-lasting pain relief.

Spinal Cord Stimulation: In cases of severe pain not responsive to other treatments, spinal cord stimulation can be considered. It involves implanting a device that delivers electrical impulses to block pain signals.

Surgical Treatment

Discectomy: In cases of severe disc herniation causing nerve compression, a discectomy may be performed to remove the herniated portion of the disc.

Laminectomy: This surgical procedure involves removing a portion of the lamina (the bony arch of the vertebra) to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, often used for spinal stenosis.

Spinal Fusion: Fusion surgery involves stabilizing the spine by fusing two or more vertebrae together with the help of hardware and bone grafts. It can reduce pain by immobilizing the affected discs.

Artificial Disc Replacement: In select cases, a damaged disc may be replaced with an artificial one to maintain motion and function in the spine.

The choice between non-surgical and surgical treatment depends on factors such as the severity of symptoms, the location of the affected discs, the patient’s overall health, and their preferences.

Spinal Decompression Therapy

Spinal decompression is a non-invasive treatment designed to relieve pressure on the spinal discs and alleviate pain and discomfort associated with various spinal conditions. It is a viable alternative to more invasive approaches like back surgery and can effectively address issues such as bulging discs, sciatica, disc injury, and degeneration.

How Does Spinal Decompression Work?

Benefits of Spinal Decompression Therapy

Pain Relief: Spinal decompression therapy effectively alleviates chronic back and neck pain, making it one of the primary reasons patients seek this treatment. By reducing pressure on spinal nerves and improving disc health, it can provide significant and long-lasting pain relief.

Non-Invasive: It is a non-invasive or minimally invasive treatment option, which means it doesn’t involve surgical incisions or anesthesia. Patients can avoid the potential risks and complications associated with surgery while still addressing their spinal issues.

Improved Quality of Life: Pain relief and improved mobility resulting from spinal decompression therapy can enhance a patient’s overall quality of life. They may experience better sleep, reduced reliance on pain medications, and increased daily activities.

Customized Treatment: Spinal decompression therapy can be tailored to each patient’s specific needs. Treatment parameters, including the level of traction and duration, can be adjusted to target the exact location and severity of the spinal problem, maximizing effectiveness.

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