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Spondylosis or the Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is regarded as the slow deterioration of the disc between the vertebrae. DDD is prevalent among people over the age of 40, affecting 40-50% of them. The Degenerative Disc Disease becomes increasingly common as people age: It could be considered as a wear-and -tear type of disease, similar to osteoarthritis. Spondylosis can occur at any spinal level, but it is mainly common in the lumbar spine (lower back region). Degenerative Disc Disease can lead to the flattening of the discs and cause them to lose their normal height. Structurally, the disc height is significant because it separates the disc above from the one under it. However, losing the disc height will cause the nerve pathways to become narrow, resulting in inflammation, nerve impingement and pain.

The 'discs' become thinner as they degenerate. Occasionally, the nerves around the vertebrae may be irritated by the small, rough areas developed by them. This often leads to some problematic symptoms like stiffness and severe neck pain and pain down the arms and hands.

It is possible for most patients to get better with mild exercises and medication. But sometimes the Spondylotic changes can cause compression in the spinal cord or the nerve roots and this may lead to weakness in the upper limbs (radiculopathy), pain, and numbness.

The chronic degeneration of the bones of the neck (cervical spine) and the cushions between vertebrae (inter vertebrae disc) is referred to as Cervical Spondylosis. The main treatment for cervical spondylosis is to remove the worn-out discs or bone spurs based on the existing type of problem. Surgeon may be required, in some circumstances, to fill the gap with a graft of bone or other implants comprising of metal and bone.

Some of the symptoms of cervical spondylosis reported by patients include mild, intermittent backaches to chronic lower back pain, severe enough to affect their daily activities at work and play. The pain becomes quite mechanical in nature, which means that the more stress or load placed on the lower back, the more disturbing the pain will be. Actions like lifting weight, bending and twisting may worsen DDD and increase back pain.


The Degenerative Disc Disease rarely requires surgery. Some of the non-surgical treatments for this disease include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medication and exercise programs. Surgery only becomes inevitable when the patient's symptoms are getting worse, when a non-surgical treatment has failed to heal the patient after six months or when daily living activities (work and play inclusive) are impossible

To treat this disease, Fusion is applied to permanently stop the movement of the spine at the area where the disc has been degenerated. This procedure helps to relieve patients of serious pain. Fusion becomes quite effective for DDD when limited to one or two discs at a time. Interestingly enough, we all have five discs in our lumbar spine, and the free, un-fused discs can allow our lower back to function properly.

It is possible to insert an artificial disc into the space after taking out the entire degenerated disc. This surgery is performed from the front and can be instrumental in restoring disc height, eliminating nerve-wracking pain and improving spine function.


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Ms. Lilian, Kenya
Ms. Lilian came to Apollo Hospitals Chennai from Kenya for treatment following an accident that resulted in fractures. Just 3 days after her surgery, she was able to walk. She thanks God and Dr.