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MICHIGAN NEUROSCIENCE
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland leads the way as Michigan's first certified primary stroke center and home of the Michigan Stroke Network, the most advanced stroke response program in the nation. From top level neuroscience doctors to breakthrough treatments in brain injury care, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland caters to Michigan's neuroscience needs.

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Todd Nida, MD
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland

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THE FACTS ABOUT Degenerative Disc Disease

Background

The bones that form the spine – called vertebrae – are separated and cushioned by oval-shaped discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. Unfortunately, as we age, these discs lose their flexibility, elasticity, and shock absorbing characteristics. This condition is called Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD).

Podcast Posted: 08/10/2007
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DDD is a term used to describe the natural process of the aging of the spine. “It’s inevitable to some degree,” says Todd Nida, MD and SJMO neurosurgeon. “The disease begins when the ligaments that surround the discs, called the annulus fibrosis, become brittle and more easily torn. At the same time, the soft gel-like center of the disc, called the nucleus pulposus, starts to dry out andshrink.”

The combination of damage to the inter-vertebral discs, the development of bone spurs, and a gradual thickening of the ligaments that support the spine can all contribute to degenerative arthritis of the lumbar spine and create conditions such as:



Spondylosis:
Spondylosis is the breakdown of the tissues that protect and cushion the discs.

Herniated Disc:
A herniated disc forms when a small part of the nucleus extrudes out through the annulus and presses on a nerve root.

Spinal Stenosis:
Spinal Stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal, which is the central space in the spine that holds the spinal cord and nerve roots.

Axial Instability:
Axial instability is the result of disc degeneration and may lead to back pain as a result of the ‘grinding’ effect of adjacent vertebrae.

These conditions can create pain and stiffness.

A physician can diagnose DDD with a neurological and musculoskeletal spine exam, supplemented by testing that might include x-ray, CT, or MRI scanning. Once diagnosed, he or she will be able to discuss treatment options, including anti-inflammatory medications (including aspirin), physical therapy, and surgery.

REFERRAL
Please call the SJMO physician referral line at 800.372.6094 to find an SJMO physician specializing in Degenerative Disc Disease.

 

THE MEDICAL REPORT LIBRARY:

MICHIGAN NEUROSCIENCE
 
 
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