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Degenerative Spinal Disease

What Is Degenerative Spine Disease?

The spine is a complex structure, made up of 33 individual bones (vertebrae), along with nerves, discs, tendons and ligaments that help carry us through the day. Each of these structures plays a role in helping us move, bend, twist and stand up straight.

As we age, our spines naturally deteriorate, which can make it difficult to enjoy our favorite activities, move around the house and work. Age can affect any area of the spine, leading to several different types of degenerative spinal disease, including:

  • Degenerative disc disease – Discs are cushions between each vertebra, acting as shock absorbers. These discs can become dry and brittle with age, and allow vertebrae to rub against one another to create pain and discomfort.
  • Spinal stenosis – The spinal canal can narrow with bony spurs in late stages of degenerative disc disease, causing the spine to press on nerves. This can cause pain in the legs.
  • Spondylosis – While spondylosis is a common term for any degenerative spinal disease, it also refers to osteoarthritis of the spine and the pain it causes. It can encompass both degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis.


Degenerative spinal disease symptoms can vary depending on the cause of your condition. You may experience:

  • Sharp, localized pain in the back
  • Dull, achy pain in the back
  • Shooting pain down one or both legs
  • Pain in the buttocks or hip
  • Pain that improves when walking or moving around
  • Pain that worsens when sitting still
  • Pain during activities

Contact a spine specialist if you experience ongoing back pain that doesn’t improve after three weeks of modified activity and self-care at home. A specialist diagnoses your degenerative spinal condition and develops a treatment plan that will address your pain.

Treatment Options

There are many different treatment options that can safely and effectively treat and manage back pain caused by spinal degeneration.

Treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy – A physical therapist will work closely with your physician to develop exercises to help restore strength and function in your back.
  • MedicationAnti-inflammatories help reduce swelling so your injury can heal.
  • Injections – Steroid injections can help reduce swelling and pain to help your body respond to treatment.
  • Surgery – If a non-surgical approach isn’t relieving your pain, your provider may discuss surgical options. Temple Health is pleased to offer a wide range of procedures, including:
    • Disc replacement surgery
    • Spinal fusion
    • Laminectomy
    • Microdiscectomy
    • Minimally invasive surgeries, including X-Stop®, a spinal decompression procedure that can relieve pain and pressure in your spine

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of degenerative spinal disease, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat degenerative spinal disease.