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Contrary to its name, degenerative disc disease is not a “disease” at all. It is rather a term used to describe changes to the spinal discs caused by everyday wear and tear, or aging. Degeneration can also be caused or accelerated by spinal trauma or injury. This condition can occur anywhere along the spinal column, but most often will affect the lower back.

When a disc deteriorates, its ability to cushion the spin and absorb shock becomes compromised. Due to the fact that discs have a unique biology and a limited blood supply, when an injury occurs, the disc is not able to repair itself.

Degenerative Disc Disease

When one develops degenerative disc disease, the discs lose their height, lose their normal fluid content, dry out, and become stiff. Disc degeneration may also lead to bulging or herniation. Nerve impingement, joint and adjacent bone inflammation and varying degrees of pain can occur when disc height is lost

If a disc becomes damaged or torn, the jelly-like material in the center of the disk can leak out onto nearby nerves, causing pain and inflammation. Tiny tears in the disc can also cause irritation to the nerves in the annulus (the thick, fibrous ring that surrounds the disc).


  • A dull ache to severe and incapacitating pain.
  • The location of the pain is dependent upon the region of the spine that’s affected.
  • For some patients, pain may be relieved by lying down.
  • A tingling, numbness, or weakness in the extremities.
Degenerative Disc Disease


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

Degenerative Disc Disease

Why Choose Dr. Stieber for Back Pain Relief?

Dr. Jonathan Stieber is an experienced, caring, and thoughtful authority in the field of spine surgery, known throughout New York and beyond as a leader in his industry. As a board-certified, Fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon in NYC with nearly two decades of experience, he delivers an outstanding patient experience that enhances quality of life. Dr. Stieber is an Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the prestigious NYU School of Medicine and is the lauded Director of the Spine Center at OrthoManhattan. He was named a Castle Connolly Top Doctor for 2022 and a New York Magazine Best Doctor for 2021. Dr. Stieber looks forward to meeting with you to discuss your concerns and creating a personalized treatment plan to resolve your discomfort.

Degenerative Disc Disease

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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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