If you have degenerative disc disease, then you understand how your symptoms can limit your ability to move freely, concentrate on work or enjoy time with family and friends. Your symptoms of degenerative disc disease may range from mild to severe, and they may come and go. When symptoms start to interfere with your normal day-to-day activities, finding the best neurosurgeon to treat your pain is of paramount importance.
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease occurs when there is excessive wear and tear of your spinal discs. Intervertebral spinal discs act like shock absorbers between each of your vertebrae. When they become worn, the discs lose water content and start to lose height. They may become worn around the edges, and the inner jelly-like material of the disc may press out of place.
Degenerative disc disease is a normal part of the aging process. Many people have degenerative disc disease and have no symptoms. When you have significant symptoms associated with degenerative disc disease, you need to find the appropriate doctor for proper treatment.
Symptoms of degenerative disc disease may include:
- Central low back pain
- Pain to one side of your spine
- Muscle spasms in your back
- Pain down one leg
- Numbness and tingling in one leg
- Weakness in your thigh or ankle muscles
- Stiffness with various spinal motions
If you have any back pain or symptoms of sciatica, you should visit your doctor to see if degenerative disc disease may be the cause and to get started on treatment right away.
Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease
There are different treatments for degenerative disc disease, depending on the severity of symptoms. First, you may benefit from conservative treatments like physical therapy and exercise. Your therapist can show you exercises designed to help improve the way your spine moves and to decrease your back pain. Postural correction exercises and techniques can make sitting more comfortable.
Some patients with degenerative disc disease benefit from using medication to help decrease their symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medicine may be prescribed; opioids are not recommended for degenerative disc disease as they will simply mask your symptoms and may lead to dependency.
Patients with degenerative disc disease may benefit from surgery to help control their pain and to relieve pressure off of pinched nerves in the spine. Surgery typically involves using specialized surgical tools to decompress your spinal nerves and stabilize your spine with small medical-grade hardware instruments, a procedure called a spinal fusion.
There are different approaches to spinal surgery. Some neurosurgeons use a traditional open approach where a large incision is made to expose your degenerated discs. Standard surgical instruments are then used to decompress and stabilize your spine.
A newer and innovative approach to spinal surgery for degenerative disc disease is called minimally invasive spine surgery. During this approach, a small incision is made in your back, while your spinal muscles are left intact and in place. Small portals are made in your muscles, and specialized instruments are used to visualize your discs and to carry out the surgical repair.
The benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery include:
- Less pain
- Rapid recovery
- Less risk of infection
- Less blood loss
When considering the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery for degenerative disc disease, it may be in your best interest to find a top-rated NJ neurosurgeon who specializes in minimally invasive surgery.
Qualities of a Top-Rated NJ Neurosurgeon for DDD
What are some qualities of a great neurosurgeon for degenerative disc disease? How do you know your surgeon is the right one for you?
Qualities of a top-rated NJ neurosurgeon include:
- Practices minimally invasive spine surgery. Your surgeon should use innovative techniques and approaches to surgery to minimize your pain and maximize your outcomes.
- Is board certified. The American Board of Neurological Surgery certifies those surgeons who have passed rigorous exams and have extensive training in innovative neurosurgical techniques.
- Practices with a team of professionals. Every member of the neurosurgical team should be working with you and your doctor to achieve the best possible outcome with your surgery.
- Offers patient centered care. When you are meeting with your neurosurgeon, he or she should take time to answer your questions about degenerative disc disease and surgery. Your neurosurgeon should offer you alternatives to surgery, and you should feel like you have a positive working relationship with your doctor.
Finding the best neurosurgeon for you may take time, but finding a top-rated doctor for your degenerative disc disease surgery can help you feel comfortable with your treatment decisions and help you have a positive outcome with surgery.
Finding the Best Neurosurgeon for Your Degenerative Disc Disease
So how do you locate the best neurosurgeon for your degenerative disc disease? It may take some effort, but finding the best surgeon for you is one of the most important treatment decisions you can make regarding your degenerative disc disease.
Methods to find a top-rated neurosurgeon include:
- Searching the internet for minimally invasive spine surgeons with positive reviews
- Asking family members and friends about their experiences with their neurosurgeon for DDD
- Asking for a referral from a family physician
Of course, the best way to find the right neurosurgeon for you is to meet with several doctors to discuss your treatment for degenerative disc disease. You’re doctor should spend time with you and help you feel at ease about your treatment. You should never feel rushed or pressured into having surgery for degenerative disc disease, unless a medical emergency requires a rapid surgical intervention. This is a rare occurrence, though.
Most importantly, you should feel like you and your neurosurgeon have a therapeutic alliance. Both of you should be working together to find the best treatment for your degenerative disc disease.
Dealing with lower back pain or sciatica can make managing your everyday activities painful or impossible. Taking the time to find the best NJ neurosurgeon can be one of the smartest moves you can make to get the best treatment for your degenerative disc disease.