What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

By Brian McHugh, MD | Featured on Spine Health

Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of low back and neck pain, and also one of the most misunderstood.

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6 Low Back Pain Symptoms, Locations, Causes & Treatments

Article Featured on eMedicineHealth

What Should I Know About Low Back Pain?

What Is the medical definition of low back pain?

Pain in the lower back or low back pain is a common concern, affecting up to 80% of Americans at some point in their lifetime. Many will have more than one episode. Low back pain is not a specific disease, rather it is a symptom that may occur from a variety of different processes. In up to 85% of people with low back pain, despite a thorough medical examination, no specific cause of the pain can be identified.

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Adult Spondylolisthesis in the Low Back

Article Featured on AAOS

In spondylolisthesis, one of the bones in your spine — called a vertebra — slips forward and out of place. This may occur anywhere along the spine, but is most common in the lower back (lumbar spine). In some people, this causes no symptoms at all. Others may have back and leg pain that ranges from mild to severe.

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How to tell if you have a Herniated Disk

Article Featured on AAOS

A common source of back or neck pain is a herniated disk. Sometimes called a “slipped” or “ruptured” disk, this condition most often occurs in the lower back, as well as the smaller disks in the neck.

Although a herniated disk can sometimes be very painful, most people feel much better with just a few months of simple, nonsurgical treatments.

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Osteoporosis and Spinal Fractures

Article Featured on AAOS

As we get older, our bones thin and our bone strength decreases. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become very weak and more likely to break. It often develops unnoticed over many years, with no symptoms or discomfort until a bone breaks.

Fractures caused by osteoporosis most often occur in the spine. These spinal fractures — called vertebral compression fractures — occur in nearly 700,000 patients each year. They are almost twice as common as other fractures typically linked to osteoporosis, such as broken hips and wrists.

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Bone Grafts in Spine Surgery

Article Featured on AAOS

Spinal fusion is one of the most common surgeries done in the neck or back. The basic idea is to fuse together painful bones in the spine so that they heal into a single, solid bone. In order for bones to fuse or heal together, additional bone is needed. This additional bone is called a bone graft.

There are many bone graft options today. They are often combined together. The graft that is best for your problem will depend upon which section of your spine needs to be fused, your age, and your general health.

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