Degenerative Disc Disease in Hollywood & Miami FL

Degenerative Disc Disease

Serving the South Florida area with locations in Hollywood and Miami, FL

Dr. Andreas C. Tomac, MD, PhD, FAANS is a distinguished neurosurgeon specializing in diagnosing and treating Degenerative Disc Disease.

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a condition affecting the spine’s intervertebral discs, causing wear and tear over time. Despite its name, DDD is a natural part of aging, leading to pain, stiffness, and discomfort in the back and neck. Symptoms include radiating pain, reduced flexibility, and occasional numbness or tingling. Factors like aging, genetics, injuries, and lifestyle choices contribute to its development. Treatment ranges from conservative approaches like physical therapy and medications to surgical interventions in severe cases, aiming to manage symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.

Who can it affect?

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) primarily affects individuals as they age and is considered a natural part of the aging process. It can impact a diverse range of people, including those with a family history of DDD, individuals engaging in certain lifestyle habits like smoking, occupations involving repetitive spinal stress, heavy lifting, or prolonged sitting, those with a history of spinal trauma or injury, individuals with excess body weight, and those with pre-existing spinal conditions or abnormalities. It’s important to note that DDD can also occur in individuals without apparent risk factors. If someone experiences persistent or severe back pain or related symptoms, seeking medical attention for proper diagnosis and management is crucial. Healthcare professionals, including orthopedic specialists or spine specialists, can conduct thorough evaluations and recommend tailored treatment options based on the individual’s condition.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain: Degenerative Disc Disease often manifests as persistent pain, commonly in the lower back or neck, which may radiate to other areas.
  • Stiffness: Individuals with DDD may experience stiffness in the affected region, limiting their range of motion.
  • Reduced Flexibility: The condition can lead to a decrease in flexibility, making everyday movements more challenging.
  • Numbness and Tingling: In some cases, patients may encounter sensations of numbness or tingling, especially in the extremities.
  • Radiating Pain: The pain associated with DDD might extend beyond the immediate area of disc degeneration, affecting nearby nerves.
  • Worsening Symptoms with Activity: Activities that involve bending, lifting, or prolonged sitting may exacerbate DDD symptoms.
  • Pain Relief with Rest: Symptoms may temporarily improve with rest, highlighting the dynamic nature of discomfort associated with this condition.

Treating Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease in Hollywood & Miami FL

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosing Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) involves a thorough medical history, physical examination, and imaging studies like X-rays, MRI, or CT scans. These help visualize spinal structures, assess disc degeneration, and identify potential nerve compression. Diagnostic tests like discography may be used to evaluate disc functionality. Clinicians consider symptoms, treatment response, and rule out other causes. This comprehensive approach enables accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment planning.

Degenerative Disc Disease in Hollywood & Miami FL
Degenerative Disc Disease in Hollywood & Miami FL

What treatments are available?

Treatment options for Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) can vary based on the severity of symptoms and the individual’s overall health. A neurosurgeon like Dr. Tomac can provide expertise in both non-surgical and surgical interventions. Here are common treatment approaches:

Conservative Treatments:

  • Medications: Pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and muscle relaxants may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy: Targeted exercises to improve core strength, flexibility, and posture.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Recommendations for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, weight management, and avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms.

Interventional Procedures:

  • Epidural Steroid Injections: Injections into the epidural space to deliver anti-inflammatory medication and reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Facet Joint Injections: Injections to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain in the facet joints of the spine.

Surgical Options:

  • Discectomy: Surgical removal of the herniated or degenerated portion of the disc to relieve pressure on nerves.
  • Spinal Fusion: Joining two or more vertebrae to stabilize the spine, often performed when there is instability.
  • Artificial Disc Replacement: Replacement of a damaged disc with an artificial one to maintain spinal mobility.