New York Spine Institute Spine Services

Types of Degenerative Spine Disease

Types of degenerative spine disease

Types of Degenerative Spine Disease

By: Timothy T. Roberts, M.D. FAAOS

Dr. Roberts earned his Doctorate of Medicine from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. He completed his orthopedic residency at Albany Medical College. Dr. Roberts then went on to complete the neurosurgery/orthopaedic spine surgery-combined fellowship at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. Following graduation, Dr. Roberts worked for several years in a large private practice in Florida, but has since returned to his native New York.

When we think of deterioration of the spine, osteoporosis is what usually comes to mind — where a spine seems to shrink as an individual’s bones lose strength. However, there are many degenerative spine diseases that can cause mobility issues, loss of flexibility, pain, weakness and numbness. These conditions usually require medical intervention from a skilled orthopedic spine specialist like Dr. Timothy Roberts of New York Spine Institute.

What Is Degenerative Spine Disease?

A degenerative spine disease includes types of back diseases that are expected to get worse over time, especially without treatment. They can be caused by age or injury, and symptoms can vary from patient to patient.

When you come to NYSI, Dr. Roberts can diagnose this type of condition with specialized testing equipment such as X-rays or magnetic resonance (MR) imaging that examines discs in the spine. He may also recommend the use of computed tomography (CT) scan for diagnosis. A CT scan is an option if a patient can’t have an MRI. It’s also a useful procedure in instances where a detailed view of bones in the spine is needed.

If you are diagnosed with a degenerative spine disease, Dr. Roberts may recommend a variety of treatments, such as pain management, cold and heat therapy, epidural injections, physical therapy and surgery. Along with more conventional spine surgeries, Dr. Roberts also specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques that offer relief with fewer risks than traditional surgery.

What Are Degenerative Diseases of the Spine?

Common types of degenerative spine disease include:

  • Sciatica: The sciatic nerve stretches from the lower back down the legs. It is the largest nerve in the body. When this nerve is injured, irritated or compressed, the condition is known as sciatica. Sciatica can cause weakness, numbness or pain, usually on one side of the legs or the lower half of the body.
  • Degenerative disc disease: Each vertebral disc of the spine has a gel-like substance that helps cushion the spine and body from shocks. Degenerative disc disease occurs as this gel substance decreases with age. This condition can weaken the discs and lead to damage to the vertebrae. Degenerative disc disease can also cause bone spurs, which can press down on nerves and nerve roots, resulting in reduced mobility and pain.
  • Herniated discs: This is one of the most common deteriorating spine conditions, and it can occur due to aging or an injury. Herniated discs happen when the center of a disc is damaged and the disc shrinks. Since discs absorb shock and help with flexibility, herniated discs can cause mobility issues and pain. Herniated discs can also contribute to sciatica and other problems. Once the inside of a disc is ruptured, it cannot heal itself, leading to deteriorating spine function.
  • Spinal stenosis: Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition compresses the nerves, leading to weakness, pain, numbness and other complications. Arthritis, aging, injury, genetics and other factors can contribute to spinal stenosis.

Contact a Specialist at NYSI to Learn More

If you have been diagnosed with degenerative spine disease or have pain or an unusual curvature in your back, schedule a consultation at New York Spine Institute. Our compassionate, highly experienced back and spine specialist, Dr. Timothy T. Roberts, can evaluate your condition and provide you with the most innovative treatment options available today. Dr. Roberts provides his patients with the information and services they need to feel empowered and secure. Reach out today to learn more.