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Causes of degenerative disc disease

Our multidisciplinary team is committed to providing world class treatment for the full range of spinal disorders. Pain arising from the neck or low back is very common and in most patients is self-limiting. In the vast majority of patients, the cause is related to our modern sedentary lifestyle. Wear and tear changes that arise in the spine as we age may cause back pain and can cause nerve entrapment and associated sciatica/arm pain.

The first stage in our diagnostic pathway is usually a thorough assessment by one of our neurosurgeons who will be able to identify which area of the spine is affected and which nerves may be involved. In most cases further tests will be ordered and this is usually an MRI scan of the spine. If a patient suffers from claustrophobia then we can arrange for the scan to be performed in an Open MRI scanner which is more pleasant. A stepwise approach is used to treat most spinal disorders.

General Principles of Our Spinal Treatments

This approach involves starting treatment with non-invasive and effective treatments such as physiotherapy and osteopathy. If this is ineffective, then simple analgesics may help. Occasionally we may use injections of steroid/local anaesthetic mixture which may help/alleviate back pain and sciatica. These injections may be to the epidural space (similar to a technique used in childbirth), facet joints or around individual nerves (perineural block). Surgical treatments, although proven to be effective and safe, carry greater risks than non-operative treatment and are therefore only used in a minority of cases. There are many different operations used to treat back pain, neck pain and sciatica. Surgical treatments for nerve entrapment causing either sciatica or arm pain are well studied and usually highly effective. Operations for back pain are generally more complex but may produce significant improvements in pain and quality of life.