Surprisingly degenerative disc disease isn’t a true disease, instead, it’s the wear and tear of the spinal discs caused by aging.
Spinal discs sit between the bones in the spine (vertebrae) and act as shock absorbers and they also allow help the spine to bend and twist.
Degenerative disc disease is also known as spondylosis and it tends to affect those under 60. It causes pain in the neck and back.
Our renowned medical team provides a range of treatments, from the traditional to the innovative:
This is an effective and well-researched procedure that’s a potential alternative to surgery. It takes advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to reduce pain and improve joint function. It uses a specially concentrated dosage of platelets prepared from your own blood to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscle and bone. Patients usually see their symptoms improve within six weeks of having the injections. Read more clinical evidence supporting PRP here.
In a recent study, 91% of patients with chronic low back pain reported a significant reduction in pain, six months after PRGF treatment. This treatment involves applying plasma rich in growth factors (PRGF- Endoret) using intradiscal injections to repair tissue in the low back.
A pioneering new treatment using your body’s own stem cells from a combination of Lipogems® and Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy to treat pain and inflammation. It harnesses natural repair cells removed from your body fat to target problems affecting discs, joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles.
The procedure takes around an hour and early results suggest an improvement for 75% of suitable patients. The minimally invasive procedure is a possible alternative to having an operation or can be used after surgery to help healing.
You’ll be given a mild sedative and be asked to lie face down. Using fluoroscopic (X-ray) for guidance, the doctor will find the best path for the thin needle. They will then insert the needle into the centre of each disc that needs treating.
It’s a quick procedure and you’ll up and moving around 30 – 40 minutes after the procedure and back to full mobility after one week.
The spinal discs have a softer inner centre and a harder outer wall. With age, the spinal discs can dry out or crack.
At birth, our spinal discs are mainly made of water. As we age the water dries out and the discs become thinner, making them less able to absorb shocks. It also means there’s less padding between the vertebrae (bones in the spine).
Over time, everyday movements can cause tiny cracks to appear in the outer wall of the spinal discs. The outside wall also contains nerves, so any cracks that appear near the nerves can cause pain. If the outer wall breaks down altogether, the softer centre can push through which can lead to a herniated disc.
The symptoms you’ll experience with degenerative disc disease depend on which disc(s) are affected and the severity of it. Common symptoms include pain that:
• Appears in the lower back, buttocks or thighs
• Comes and goes, that ranges from discomfort to severe and that can last a few days to months
• Gets better when you move around
• Gets worse when you lift, bend or twist
• Eases off when you change position or lie down
In some cases, degenerative disc disease can cause numbness and a tingling sensation in the arms and legs. Or, it may can cause your leg muscles to become weak. Both of these mean the discs may be affecting nearby nerves as they emerge from the spine.
If you are experiencing low back pain or pain in your buttocks and thighs, a doctor will examine you applying pressure to different areas to see where it hurts. In some cases, the doctor may refer you to have an:
• Spinal X-ray – to see if there any other bone problems which could be causing the pain
• MRI – using a magnetic field and radio waves a detailed image of the affected is created which can reveal subtle changes
• CT scans – which uses radiation to create detailed images of the body
Treatment for degenerative disc disease aims to relieve symptoms and improve the function of the lower back.
Initial treatment may include medications such as analgesics which help reduce the pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDS – which reduce the pain and inflammation and steroid injections which reduce inflammation and provide short-term relief.
Your doctor may refer you to see a physiotherapist who can show you a range of exercises and stretches which can improve the flexibility and strength of your back muscles.
Our expert team specialises in treating degenerative disc disease using advanced non-surgical techniques including stem cell therapy, AMPP® Activated Mesenchymal Pericyte Plasma (using Lipogems® technology) and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy.
Such treatments may be an alternative for patients suitable for surgery or a possible treatment option for those in whom surgery is not an option (see below).
If your symptoms don’t improve with non-surgical options, your doctor may recommend surgery.
The surgeon may offer to remove the disc and fuse the bones on either side. This can be done via several approaches to the spine, each of which has significant risks and benefits that the surgeon will discuss with you. It is only an option in certain patients depending largely on the extent of the degenerative disease. The more ‘widespread’ the degenerative change, the less likely surgery is to help and many patients are not suitable for fusion surgery.
Our experienced consultants will undertake a thorough examination exploring non-surgical and surgical treatments. They’ll also discuss your suitability for our state-of-the-art biological therapies.
Your consultation will be with one of our spine specialists, Mr. Shahid Khan, Prof. Arun Ranganathan or Dr. Stefano Palmisini and will last approximately 30 minutes. On the day, or the day before you will be asked to attend for an MRI scan.
As well as undertaking an examination, our specialists will take details of your medical history and discuss your symptoms. They will also detail all your treatment options and cover their potential benefits and risks.
Our expert team comprises of highly experienced surgeons, sports medicine doctors and physiotherapists who are committed to delivering a high level of care and the correct treatment option so you can quickly get back to moving around.
The first step is to book a consultation for a thorough assessment. Click here to make an appointment.
Autologous translates as ‘from the same person.’ In brief, it involves using your own cells to encourage healing. The major benefits are that there is no chance of rejection, infection or contamination as you are using cells from your own body rather than a donor.
We offer a range of therapies based on this principle which can be considered if traditional treatments including surgery aren’t relieving your pain.
Biological treatments are pioneering procedures and we’re continuously monitoring and recording its effectiveness. Patients undertaking these treatments are asked to complete pre-operative and post-operative questionnaires.
The information obtained from these questionnaires allows us to monitor your progress and it also contributes to our evidence-based database and other global studies on biological treatments. All information gathered is anonymised.
Intradiscal and intra-articular facet infiltrations with ‘Endoret’ plasma rich in growth factors reduce pain in patients with chronic low back pain. Read full paper.