Treating 'degenerative' discs

PHOTO: Treating 'degenerative' discs

Q: My doctor says that my spine's discs are 'degenerative'. He suggests injections to the spine or even surgery for a more permanent fix.

I'm terrified of needles and the thought of surgery is even worse. What can I do?

The treatment modalities will depend on the chronicity of symptoms, severity of symptoms, how the symptoms are affecting your lifestyle, and the types of treatment that have already been performed on you.

Generally, one will start with simple treatment like physiotherapy, acupuncture, and medications. Modification of lifestyle like cessation of smoking and adopting a good spine posture will be imparted.

If these measures fail, then one can consider spinal injections in the selected cases, and eventually surgery if the spinal injections provide only temporary relief.

The risks versus the benefits of any treatment modality need to be clarified clearly to the patient in order for them to make an informed decision.

Answer provided by Adjunct Associate Professor Hee Hwan Tak, Singapore Medical Group's Medical Director, SMG Orthopaedic Group and Centre for Spine & Scoliosis Surgery