I Want To...
I Want To...
Find Research Faculty
Enter the last name, specialty or keyword for your search below.
School of Medicine
I Want to...
Conditions We Treat: Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease describes a group of symptoms that may result from the gradual wear and tear of spinal discs or from an acute spinal injury. If you are looking for help with this condition, request a consultation with one of our orthopaedic spine specialists.
Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment: Why Choose Johns Hopkins
- Our orthopaedic spine specialists use high-precision diagnostic techniques that allow them to identify the location and degree of disc degeneration with high accuracy.
- Cervical, lumbar and thoracic degenerative disc disease, as well as bulging and herniated discs, are some of the disc-related conditions our specialists are experienced in treating.
- If you are a candidate for nonsurgical or minimally invasive spine treatment, our experts will try these approaches first before considering surgery for degenerative disc disease.
- Skilled in complex spine revision surgeries, our specialists also work with patients who had prior spine surgery that didn’t resolve their pain.
- If degenerative disc disease leads to or worsens spinal stenosis, myelopathy or radiculopathy, our orthopaedic spine experts can help address these conditions as well.
Request an Appointment:
Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment Options
Treatment for degenerative disc disease typically starts with nonsurgical methods that may provide sufficient symptom relief. When you request an appointment with one of our orthopaedic spine specialists, he or she will carefully examine you and your MRI scans to determine which treatment approach will best meet your health goals.
- Pain control focuses on reducing pain from the damaged disc and helping you return to your daily activities. Methods of pain control may include anti-inflammatory medications, manual manipulation, steroid injections, electrical stimulation, back braces or heat/ice therapy.
- Physical therapy can help stretch and strengthen the right muscles to help the back heal and reduce the frequency of painful flare-ups.
- Lifestyle modifications, such as changing your posture, losing weight or giving up smoking, can sometimes help reduce stress on the damaged disc and slow down further degeneration.
Surgical options are available for people who experience severe pain or significant loss of function and don’t respond to other treatments. The surgery may involve removal and replacement of the whole or a part of the affected disc (partial or total disc replacement). Another option is disc removal (discectomy) with spinal fusion that reduces the movement in the damaged spine segment.
Lumbar Disc Bulge and Spinal Fusion | Richard Shetter's Story
U.S. Army veteran Richard Shetter has conquered many obstacles, but nothing took him out of commission the way his back pain did. After living with the pain for many years and not having any positive results from a prior back surgery, Rick sought a second opinion at Johns Hopkins.
Soon after seeing orthopaedic spine surgeon Brian Neuman, M.D., Rick found out that his back pain was due to spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebra) and a bulging disc that contributed to radiculopathy and spinal stenosis in his lumbar spine. Rick decided to undergo a lumbar fusion surgery, leading him to be pain-free.
The Spine Outcomes Research Center
Richard Skolasky, Sc.D., and his team from the Spine Outcomes Research Center focus on finding new ways to help patients with spine conditions improve their quality of life. His team has found that phone follow-ups can be useful for spine surgery patients. When patients understand the importance of physical therapy and home exercises, they are more likely to follow through. Phone follow-ups help inform patients and motivate them to stick to the recommended recovery plan.
Request an Appointment
Already a Patient?
Traveling for Care?
Whether you're crossing the country or the globe, we make it easy to access world-class care at Johns Hopkins.