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Surgical and Non Surgical Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)


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DDD can affect any part of the spine, although common sites are the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) spine; thoracic DDD is very uncommon. Back or Neck pain is usually manageable with various conservative treatments options like surgical and non-surgical.


For acute or sudden neck pain, doctors prescribe pain relief medications such as acetaminophen, anti-inflammatory agents, and muscle relaxants. Temporary bed rest or a brace may also be suggested. Usually patients are encouraged to get up and gradually increase their activities of daily living.

Physical therapy is often prescribed, and usually includes stretching exercises to improve flexibility and extension exercises to help maintain the spine's natural curve. A hot/cold therapy and gentle massage can also be beneficial for neck pain. After acute symptoms subside (usually within two to three weeks), patients are encouraged to begin a daily exercise regimen. This may include low impact aerobics three times per week as well as daily neck exercises.

Injections: Steroid injections around the nerves exiting the spinal cord may be able to provide some pain relief.

Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy : Intradiscal electrothermal therapy, or IDET, involves inserting a small catheter with a heated tip into the disk. The heat causes shrinkage of the disk and deadens the disk's nerve endings. This is not yet a generally accepted.


Patients who suffer from a herniated disc, ruptured disc, or degenerative disc disease, and have failed conservative therapy are often treated with an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion. An Anterior Cervical Disectomy and Fusion has been the gold standard of treatment.

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Artificial Cervical Disc :

This procedure reaches the cervical spine (neck) through a small incision in the front of the neck. The intervertebral disc is removed and replaced with a small plug of bone or other graft substitute, and in time, will fuse the vertebrae. While Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion remains the gold standard for treatment of cervical disc herniations and degenerative conditions of the cervical spine, the use of motion sparing techniques such as artificial disc placement are under investigation world wide.

Cervical Corpectomy :

This procedure removes a portion of the vertebra and adjacent intervertebral discs, which allows for decompression of the cervical spinal cord and spinal nerves. A bone graft, and, in some cases, a metal plate and screws, stabilizes the spine.

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