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Degenerative disc disease is not a “disease,” rather, it is a term used to describe changes to the spinal discs caused by aging or excessive wear and tear. This condition can occur anywhere along the spinal column, but it most commonly affects the lower back.

When discs deteriorate, their ability to absorb shock and cushion the spine is compromised. Because discs have a unique biology and limited blood supply, once an injury occurs, the disc cannot repair itself.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease causes discs to dry out, lose height, and become stiff. When disc height is lost, nerve impingement, adjacent bone and joint inflammation, and varying degrees of pain can occur.

Should the disc become torn or damaged, the jelly-like material in the center can leak out onto nearby nerves, causing inflammation and pain. Microscopic tears in the disc can also irritate the nerves in the annulus (the thick fibrous ring surrounding the disc).


  • Dull ache to severe, incapacitating pain
  • Location of pain dependent upon region of the spine affected
  • Pain relieved by lying down (for some patients)
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the extremities
Degenerative Disc Disease


Conservative treatment consisting of bed rest or restricted activity may be prescribed for mild pain. Anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and/or epidural steroid injections are often recommended for treatment of short-term moderate pain. Should your condition cause considerable pain or disability, Dr. Stieber can explain the various surgical solutions that may be appropriate for your condition. Diagnostic tests may include CT scan, MRI, myelogram, or discography.

Degenerative Disc Disease

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Update Regarding COVID-19 View Update Virtual Consultation

Dear Patients:

Our patients' health and safety is our number one priority. Our office continues to be open for all email, telephone, and online inquiries. You can call us at 646-916-3962 or contact us via email to schedule your virtual telemedicine or in-person visit. Our doctors will be holding regular office hours for virtual video consultations and follow-up visits that permit you to stay in the comfort of your own home, utilizing your computer, tablet, or mobile device.

Additionally, we will continue to see select patients in the office for consultation and follow-up visits, including preoperative and postoperative appointments. Our doctors continue to perform procedures in our private, free-standing surgery center that offers an array of outpatient surgical services to treat spinal issues such as acute back pain, disc herniations, sciatica, and pinched nerves in the back or neck. We are also able to offer clean and efficient on-site x-ray capabilities in our office.

Please know that we join our community in taking all advised precautions* to limit the spread of the Coronavirus and ensure the safety of patients and staff.

Call today to schedule a consultation and explore your options with the Spine Center at OrthoManhattan.

The following precautionary measures have been established to ensure the safest environment possible:

  • All patients are screened both prior to and on the day of their office appointment. Patients will not be permitted in the office and will be asked to reschedule their appointment if:
    • You or anyone in your household are experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, congestion, runny nose, or shortness of breath.
    • You have been in contact with anybody who has tested positive for coronavirus or have traveled (both domestically and internationally) within the last 14 days.
  • We have updated our patient and visitor policies:
    • Only a limited number of patients will be permitted on the office hour schedule.
    • No additional visitors or family members are allowed to accompany the patient during their office visit, unless the patient is in need of an aide or a translator
    • Infants, children, and adolescents are asked to stay home and will not be permitted to accompany the patient to their appointment.

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