Downtown Pain Physicians

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment Brooklyn

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Our pain management doctors use anti-inflammatory prescription medications, injections such as Corticosteroids, and multiple conservative options to reduce inflammation, such as heat or cold therapy, as a safe and effective treatment for degenerative disc disease. As a powerful anti-inflammatory medication, a cortisone injection can help reduce inflammation around the nerves and the spinal cord and provide immediate pain relief that can last for several months. As experts in pain management and pain control, our physicians offer comprehensive, personalized treatments that focus on your specific level of pain. Visit our pain clinic and meet our physicians to get the pain under control in the safe, reassuring hands of New York’s best pain relief doctor, Dr. Raj Raval, MD, located in Downtown Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan.

Degenerative Disc Disease


Degenerative disc disease is a condition that causes one or more discs of the back to lose their strength. Degenerative disc disease, although named one, isn’t a disease. It is a condition with progress over time and can happen due to an injury or due to wear and tear.

The discs of the back are found in between the vertebra of the spine and have the function of cushioning and absorbing shock. Discs can help you to stand up straight, bend over, or to twist around. As time passes, degenerative disc disease can worsen. It can lead to mild and up to severe pain, which might not allow you to go on with your everyday activities.

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One of the biggest risk factors for degenerative disc disease is age. The discs begin to shrink down as we get older and lose their cushioning property and shock-absorbing function. It is estimated that almost all adults over 60 years old suffer from some type of disc degeneration, but not all cases lead to pain.

What are the symptoms of degenerative disc disease?

Some of the most symptoms that degenerative disc disease leads to include pain which gets worse after sitting, pain that worsens after bending over or twisting, pain that extends from neck to arms, pain which might extend to buttocks and legs, pain which primarily affects the lower back or pain which comes and goes.

People who suffer from degenerative disc disease might also experience pain after exercising or after walking. Degenerative disc disease can also cause weakness in the legs or can lead to a sensation of numbness in the arms and legs.

What is the cause of degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease is mainly caused by wear and tear of the spinal discs. With time, such discs naturally dry out and loose their function and their support. This can lead to the symptoms of degenerative disc disease. It typically begins to develop in the 30s but then worsens with time. It is a condition, that despite wear and tear, can also be caused by overuse and an injury, which might occur due to sports or repetitive activities. If a disc is damaged, it is not able to repair itself.

What are the risk factors for degenerative disc disease?

One of the biggest risk factors for degenerative disc disease is age. The discs begin to shrink down as we get older and lose their cushioning property and shock-absorbing function. It is estimated that almost all adults over 60 years old suffer from some type of disc degeneration, but not all cases lead to pain.

People who have suffered a back injury might also be at an increased risk of suffering from degenerative disc disease. Doing long-term repetitive activities, which put pressure on certain discs, can also increase this risk. Some further risk factors for degenerative disc disease include car accidents, leading to a sedentary lifestyle, or being overweight or obese. It is also important that you watch out how you exercise if you don’t want to increase your risk of suffering from degenerative disc disease. Working out intensely and on the weekends only is not the right way to go when it comes to the health of your joints and discs. It is instead much better to workout moderately, but daily, and to always stretch before and after exercising.

What is the diagnosis for degenerative disc disease?

Your doctor will first listen to the symptoms that you have been experiencing. You will also be asked about your medical history, whether you’ve suffered any injuries and whether or not you exercise. Further imaging tests might be necessary as well. Your doctor might order to get an MRI, which can help to detect degenerative disc disease. Imaging tests can also help your doctor to rule out other possible causes.

How to treat degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease treatment can include several conservative options. One of them is heat or cold therapy. Cold packs applied to the affected area can help to decrease the pain, while heat packs can help to reduce inflammation. Degenerative disc disease treatments can also rely on the use of over-the-counter medications, which can help to manage pain and decrease inflammation, such as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. However, such medications can also lead to side effects when combined with the use of other medications, so make sure to speak to your doctor before choosing the right kind of painkiller.

Treatment for degenerative disc disease might sometimes also include stronger, prescription medications. In cases where over-the-counter pain relievers don’t work, your doctor might suggest getting prescription medications. They must be taken with care, as they can lead to dependency and should only be used in cases of severe pain.

Physical therapy can also be of aid, as a physical therapist can show you how to strengthen your back muscles and how to best alleviate pain. With time, you are likely to notice some improvements in overall mobility, in your posture, as well as pain levels.

Corticosteroids, as powerful anti-inflammatory medications, can help to reduce inflammation around the nerves and the spinal cord. Such an epidural injection can be especially helpful in cases where a degenerative disc disease leads to a herniated disc or in cases where bone growths develop and begin pressing on the nerve roots of the spinal cord.

Depending on how severe the condition is, the doctor might recommend surgery, in the form of artificial disc replacement or a spinal fusion. There are cases where you might need surgery once the pain doesn’t resolve or worsens after six months. Artificial disc replacement can involve replacing the broken disc with a new one, which is made from either plastic or metal. Spinal fusion, on the other hand, can connect the affected vertebrae, as this can lead to the strengthening of the defected area.

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Can degenerative disc disease lead to complications?

Some advanced types of degenerative disc disease can also cause osteoarthritis in the back. This type of osteoarthritis can lead to the vertebrae rubbing together, as there are no discs left, which can cushion them. This can lead to pain and stiffness in the back, but can also limit the types of activities, which you can comfortably accomplish.

Exercising is very important to your overall health, but it is even more important if you suffer from back pain due to degenerative disc disease. The pain might tempt you to lay down and rest, however, if you decrease your mobility, your pain might worsen, you might have a decreased muscle tone, you might suffer from depression, blood clots in the legs, or reduced flexibility in the back.

What is the outlook for degenerative disc disease?

If degenerative disc disease is left untreated, the condition can progress and lead to further symptoms. Although surgery is an option for degenerative disc disease, your doctor will try all other conservative treatment options first. Although a spinal disc can’t repair itself, there are different treatment options, which can help you to remain active and pain-free.

Do you have any questions about Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment? Would you like to schedule an appointment with the best injury doctors in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan? Please call our office for a consultation and indicate which location you want to visit.

This page was published on Mar 15, 2021, modified on Jul 12, 2021 by Dr. Raj Raval, MD (Pain Management Doctor)

The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive treatment advice. It is essential to consult a best-in-class pain management specialist in New York regarding ANY questions or issues. A thorough evaluation should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call your pain doctor to schedule a consultation.

  • Dr. Raj Raval, M.D.

    1. Board Certified
    2. Interventional Pain & Musculoskeletal Medicine Specialist
  • Education & training

    1. SUNY Downstate PMR Residency
    2. Rutgers University Fellowship
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