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Bryan Wohlfeld, M.D. Answers Questions On Degenerative Disc Disease

Bryan Wohlfeld, M.D. Answers Questions On: Degenerative Disc Disease

What causes the degeneration of discs in the spine?

Disc degeneration is a natural process of aging, particularly in the cervical and lumbar levels of the spine. The degeneration results from dehydration or desiccation of the disc material that then reduces the flexibility and typically the height of the disc, and it’s not longer able to bear weight or perform its normal functions. There are many ways of treating degenerative disc disease before opting for surgery, and I encourage patients to exhaust all those options. Then, surgical options may include discectomy or decompression, as well as spinal fusion or degenerative disc replacement.

Who would be a good candidate for degenerative disc replacement?

An ideal patient for degenerative disc replacement would probably be on the younger side with otherwise healthy joints, other than the degenerated cervical disc. I would do the replacement to try to preserve normal spinal motion and limit the chance that other discs would wear out. I like using this option when possible, versus spinal fusion.

What is recovery like after surgery?

Recovery from disc replacement surgery can sometimes be faster that recovery from spinal fusion. In general, there’s less pain and fewer complications.