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Is degenerative disc disease (DDD) reversible?

Degenerative disc disease results from a natural aging process that occurs in the spinal discs, which cushion and separate the vertebrae. Over time, the discs gradually dry out and become prone to injury. This condition is common and adversely affects some people more than others. However, because it is age related, it cannot be fully avoided, nor can its effects be reversed.

With that said, degenerated discs do not always produce symptoms or require treatment. Additionally, studies show that some people who are diagnosed with advanced degenerative disc disease experience little to no pain. In other words, there is no correlation between the extent of the degeneration and the presence or absence of symptoms.

How to cope with degenerative disc disease

If degenerative disc disease is causing you discomfort, you may be able to manage it with self-care and nonsurgical treatment. For instance, most physicians recommend regular exercise and proper nutrition for overall health and wellness. In addition, the following measures can be helpful for getting through painful episodes:

  • Cold compresses. An ice pack applied directly to a tender area of your neck or back can numb pain and reduce inflammation. You can use this simple and inexpensive therapy at home as needed.
  • Heat applications. Alternatively, a heating pad or moist heat compress can help relax tight muscles around a degenerated disc. You can also use this therapy to warm up your lower back muscles prior to stretching or exercising, which can help prevent injuries.
  • Over-the-counter medications. A nonprescription NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug), such as Advil or Motrin, can reduce inflammation around a degenerated disc. If needed, an analgesic such as Tylenol can provide further pain relief.

A positive response to a conservative treatment, such as a reduction in pain or an improvement in function, may be a sign that the treatment could ultimately provide you with the relief you need. While these symptoms can be managed, however, it’s important to understand that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the effects of degenerative disc disease can be prevented, slowed or reversed.

Surgery for degenerative disc disease

Surgery may be appropriate to address very severe or debilitating DDD symptoms. If you’d like to learn more, contact USA Spine Care and request a free MRI review.* We can discuss your options and help you determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive degenerative disc disease surgery.

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