What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?


Degenerative disc disease refers to changes in the spine as a result of the normal aging process. At Advanced Spine Center, Dr. Stephen Courtney and his skilled team are specialists in treating degenerative disc disease with our state-of-the-art approaches, including both nonsurgical and surgical options to relieve pain and associated symptoms.

What causes degenerative disc disease?

Over time, the intervertebral discs – the natural “shock absorbers for the spine” – wear out and degenerate due to aging, trauma or injury, resulting in degenerative disc disease. Some people are not even aware of their condition until being examined for another health issues.

Traumatic injury, repetitive movement, overuse, improper posture, poor body mechanics, and/or being overweight may alter the structure and functioning of the discs. All of these structural changes can place abnormal stress over your spine, causing you pain.

Symptoms of degenerative disc disease

Some individuals with degenerative disc disease may not experience any symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they typically develop gradually and worsen over time. Depending on the location of the affected disc, the condition can cause:

  • Neck or arm pain
  • Back pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the legs
  • Pain in the thighs and buttocks
  • Occasionally, bowl and bladder dysfunction

Diagnosis of degenerative disc disease

At the Advanced Spine Center, Dr. Courtney will diagnose degenerative disc disease based on your symptoms, medical history, and a physical and neurological examination. Dr. Courtney will evaluate your reflexes and muscle weakness, loss of sensation, or any other signs of neurological injury.

Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI and CT scans will help confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of degenerative disc disease

The nonsurgical treatment options of degenerative disc disease include anti-inflammatory and pain medications, muscle relaxants, physical therapy, spinal injections, and certain types of braces. To increase the success of your treatment, Dr. Courtney may combine two or more modalities.

The surgical option is usually considered for patients with unstable spine or neurological dysfunction and persistent pain that is not responding to nonsurgical treatment. Spinal stabilization and fusion may be performed to ease your pain and stabilize your spine.

Call Advanced Spine Center today

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of degenerative disc disease, contact Advanced Spine Center today. Led by Dr. Courtney, and incorporating both high tech and high touch, we get our valued patients back to their lives so they can enjoy all the activities they love!

Selected as one of Dallas’ Best Doctors by D Magazine, Dr. Courtney is known for his straight-forward, honest approach and operates only if clearly indicated with proven techniques, which has earned him an excellent reputation among his professional colleagues, medical peers and patients. Contact us today!


Common Patient Questions

Play Video

Insurances We Accept

We accept plans from the following providers. Please contact our office to determine whether your specific plan is accepted. This list may be subject to change.

Blue Cross Blue Shield
First Health Logo
Humana Logo
United Healthcare Logo
Galaxy Health Network Logo