Degenerative Disk Disease

People with degenerative disk (disc) disease find the care they need at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). We provide expert diagnosis and the full range of treatment options, from physical therapy and pain medication to advanced spinal surgery.

Back and neck pain are often caused by degenerative disc disease, which may result from the normal wear and tear of aging. At LVHN, our team helps relieve the pain so you can get back to doing the activities you love. 

We use conservative methods to help you feel better without surgery. If we decide with you that surgery will offer you the best outcome, you can feel confident that you are in skilled hands. Our neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons work together to get you the comprehensive care you need.

What is degenerative disc disease?

The spine is made up of small bones called vertebrae. Discs of cartilage separate and cushion the vertebrae. If the discs wear out, the space between the vertebrae narrows, causing increased stress on the spine and the nerves inside it.

The most common cause of degenerative disc disease is aging. As we get older, the wear and tear on the discs causes them to wear down.

Why choose LVHN for degenerative disc treatment?

When you come to LVHN, you will find:

  • Expert diagnosis: It can be challenging to get a precise diagnosis for back pain. Our team has years of experience caring for patients with back pain symptoms, giving us the expertise necessary to provide the right diagnosis.
  • Full range of treatment: We offer all types of treatment, from physical therapy and other conservative methods to advanced surgeries such as microdiscectomy, disc replacement and spinal fusion. We work with you to find the most effective treatment for your needs.
  • Expert follow-up care: We monitor your progress during treatment to ensure you are improving and your pain is being managed effectively. Our physical therapy rehabilitation program helps you strengthen your back and regain your mobility.   

Degenerative disc symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the lower back when you wake up
  • Pain after standing or walking for long periods of time

Degenerative disc diagnosis and treatment

To diagnose degenerative disc disease, we start with a physical examination and ask you about your symptoms and medical history.

Then we will recommend imaging tests to get a closer look at the structures in your back:

  • X-ray: An X-ray provides detailed pictures of internal tissues, bones and organs.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A large magnet and radio waves produce detailed images of the body.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: X-rays and computer technology produce detailed images of the body.

After confirming a diagnosis, we will discuss your treatment options with you. These include:

Conservative treatment for degenerative disc disease

Our providers help you manage and relieve the pain and restore your function. We use:

  • Physical therapy: Customized strength and conditioning exercises help you regain mobility and return to a full level of activity.
  • Steroid shots: Injections into the affected area help relieve pain.
  • Anti-inflammatory and other pain medications: Various medications can provide pain relief.Chiropractic treatment: Expert providers use manual therapy to relieve pain and get you moving again. Find out more about Chiropractic Medicine.

Degenerative disc disease surgery

We may recommend surgery if your pain is not improving with conservative methods. Our spine surgeons offer the latest surgical techniques, including minimally invasive procedures that lead to a faster recovery:

Learn more about degenerative disc disease surgery.

Advanced Spine Center

If you are experiencing pain or other symptoms, call our Advanced Spine Center at 888-402-LVHN. A nurse will discuss your symptoms and medical history with you and direct you to the care provider you need.

Learn more about the Advanced Spine Center.

Physical therapy

Our inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation specialists develop a customized plan to help relieve back pain and other symptoms. Our goal is to help you return to your daily activities as quickly as possible.

Learn more about physical therapy options.