Degenerative disc disease (DDD) surgery can be the best course of treatment in certain situations but it isn’t always necessary. Many people find that their symptoms respond very well to conservative treatments allowing them to feel better and get back to a healthier life without having to deal with the risks of downtime and costs that are typically associated with surgery.
Which Treatment Is Right For You
Everyone is unique and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. After confirming a diagnosis of DDD, a doctor can make individualized treatment recommendations. However, relief may not be instantaneous. Finding the best combination of conservative therapies and self-care is usually a trial and error process that can require both time and patience.
With that said many patients benefit from a treatment plan that includes one or more of the following three alternatives to DDD surgery:
1. Physical Therapy. An effective physical therapy program usually incorporates both passive and active elements. For example, someone experiencing neck or back pain may not feel ready for physical activity right from the start. To help them prepare, a doctor may suggest one or more inactive approaches such as heat or ice applications, therapeutic massage, or ultrasound therapy to help reduce pain and relax tight muscles. Then when the patient feels ready to move on a physical therapist can recommend a series of targeted stretches and low-impact exercises designed to build strength and endurance, enhance flexibility and stabilize the spine.
2. Medications. A variety of drugs can be effective in reducing the pain and other symptoms of DDD. While many options are readily available without a prescription, it is important to discuss medication use with your doctor and to carefully read and follow the instructions on each drug facts label. In general, a doctor will typically recommend starting with over-the-counter options as needed and prescribe stronger narcotics only if necessary.
3. Epidural Steroid Injections. Powerful medications can be injected directly into the space surrounding an irritated spinal nerve to help reduce pain and inflammation. Researchers believe that an injection can sometimes produce a flushing effect that helps to remove inflammatory proteins from a painful area. If needed a series of three injections may be given over the course of several weeks.
If your symptoms persist or worsen after several weeks or months of conservative treatment you may want to explore your DDD surgery options, including minimally invasive spine surgery performed at BEST Health System. Our procedures are a safer and more effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, offering our patients a streamlined outpatient procedure with less risk of complication.
To find out if you’re a potential candidate, contact our dedicated team at BEST Health System today!