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Spine Surgery Guide

Surgery for Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease Surgery is one of the worst uses of spinal surgery. DDD is a completely normal part of the aging process and is rarely symptomatic. It is also one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of back pain today.

It is a travesty of good medicine to blame pain on this scapegoat condition. The misdiagnosis of degenerative disc disease is one of the main causes and perpetuators of the back pain epidemic and the most common reason why many patients never find lasting relief from their torturous pain.

Degenerative Disc Disease Surgery Myths

Using surgery to treat degenerative disc disease is akin to using an invasive operation to treat grey hair or wrinkles. DDD is not some rampant degenerative disease as its name suggests. It is a normal process by which the intervertebral discs lose moisture and shrink. Nothing more, nothing less…
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Doctors LOVE this condition, since it is nearly universal in the population and provides a convenient scapegoat on which to blame ANY unexplained back pain. Blaming aging is far easier and acceptable than trying to delve into the realm of the subconscious to diagnose and treat psychological back pain, which is the real source of most chronic symptoms in diagnosed DDD patients. That's right...most patients suffering with pain blamed on their DDD are actually enduring common psychosomatic back pain. Surgery will not cure this condition and may make it much worse.

Degenerative Disc Disease Surgery Procedures

The most common forms of spinal surgery used to correct DDD are spinal fusion and the newly developed disc replacement surgery procedure.

Fusion is a procedure that actually removes the flexibility and mobility from the vertebral joints by combining vertebrae into one solid piece of bone. Hardware such as screws, cages and pins are often used to secure the bones together. This procedure goes against the evolutionary development of the spine.

The spine is designed to bend and flex. A solidified spinal segment will cause the deterioration of surrounding spinal levels, leading to a degenerative wave effect and further surgical procedures throughout the spine. Fusion is a very invasive surgery and the recovery time is long and difficult for the patient to endure. Disc Implantation is a procedure in which an artificial spinal disc is implanted into the spine to replace a degenerated disc. This procedure has promise, but is still in it’s infancy. Long term studies are not available regarding the best artificial disc design to use. There are a few designs in limited use and many more in clinical trials. At least this procedure aims to maintain the mobility of the affected spinal levels. The procedure is less invasive than many traditional spinal surgeries.

Degenerative Disc Disease Surgery Advice

DDD is not a condition that usually requires ANY medical treatment. Back surgery is perhaps the worst possible treatment for this condition. Conservative therapy options will most likely fail, but at least they are unlikely to cause further harm to the patient. Surgery will permanently damage the patient’s spine and limit their future mobility and general health. Almost any treatment will be unsuccessful, since DDD is rarely the actual casue of the pain. Treatment success is mostly temporary and due to the placebo effect. Pain from DDD is mostly misdiagnosed and often intensifies due to the diagnostic nocebo effect. For real relief of back pain, investigate the possibility that the source of your pain might be ischemic.
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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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