Degenerative Spine Conditions

What Is Degenerative Spine Disease?

Degenerative spine disease, also known as degenerative spine disorder, is when the spine’s form and function gradually decrease over time. These conditions mostly develop due to aging, but other factors can play a role, including infections or tumors.

Types of Degenerative Spine Disease and Conditions

Whether your spine has experienced everyday wear and tear, or you have suffered an infection, there are different types of degenerative spine diseases that may affect you.

Lumbar Stenosis

Lumbar stenosis is the narrowing of the spine in the lower back. The narrowing occurs in the spaces between your spine and can cause pain to the nerves within. The main cause of lumbar stenosis is osteoarthritis, which is wear and tear on your joints over time. Symptoms can include numbness in your legs, pain in your back and sciatica may develop. Treatment options for lumbar stenosis can include surgery. During surgery, your surgeon will remove the vertebrae that are pinching the nerve to help alleviate the pain.

Herniated Discs

There are discs between the vertebrae that make up the spine. When the center of these discs is ruptured, it can cause irritation to the nerves surrounding it. Herniated discs can occur as we age from normal wear and tear. As we age, the discs become more vulnerable and can tear easily with strain. Symptoms of a herniated disc can include numbness in the legs, sciatica and pain in your back.

Osteoarthritis of the Spine

A common cause of back pain is osteoarthritis of the spine. This condition occurs when the cartilage in between the joints starts to break down. This can put pressure on the nerves causing back and neck pain. The main cause of osteoarthritis of the spine is general wear and tear as we age. Treatment options to help relieve the pain include physical therapy, pain medication and steroid injections. Surgery can be a treatment option depending on the severity of the osteoarthritis.


Sciatica can be caused by a pinched nerve in the spine or a herniated disc. This condition affects the lower back and can travel down one or both of the legs. Sciatica can be caused by other spine conditions including osteoarthritis and herniated discs. Symptoms of sciatica include numbness, tingling and pain that radiates from the low back into the legs and feet. Non-surgical treatment options such as physical therapy and pain medication are the best options to help manage and relieve pain.

Symptoms of Degenerative Spine Diseases

Common symptoms of degenerative spine diseases can include pain, limited movement or mobility and spinal deformities. If you experience signs and symptoms of a degenerative spine disease, it’s important to notify your doctor. Schedule an appointment to talk about your symptoms and any concerns you may have.

Degenerative Spine Diseases Testing and Diagnosis

Your spine specialist may order imaging tests to better determine the type of degenerative spine disease. Testings may include CT scan and MRIs. These tests can help show the soft tissue that may be affected by the disorder.

Learn more about spine testing and diagnosis.

Treatment Options for Degenerative Spine Diseases

At Banner Health, our specialists take the non-surgical approach whenever possible. Our specialists will often recommend physical therapy as the first route of treatment for your degenerative spine disease. This will help to strengthen the muscles in your back and keep your spine and back strong.

Learn more about the non-surgical spine treatment options available.