Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is not really a disease but a term used to describe the normal age-related changes in your spinal discs as you age. The discs act as “shock absorbers” for the spine, allowing it to flex, bend, and twist. Degenerative disc disease can take place throughout the spine, but it most often occurs in the discs in the lower back (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region). What causes degenerative disc disease? As we age, our spinal discs break down, or degenerate, which may result in degenerative disc disease in some people. These age-related changes include loss of fluid in the disc and tiny tears or cracks in the outer layer (annulus or capsule) of the the disc. These changes alone do not result in pain. If pain results it is do to inflammation or abnormal micromotion instability. Click on this link for more information about degenerative disc disease, About Degenerative Disc Disease

If degenerative disc disease is part of the normal aging process and may not result in pain, how is it determined that the disc is the source of the pain? This is done by a procedure called a discogram. A discogram is a procedure where normal and abnormal discs are “pressurized” independently in hopes that the pain is only reproduced when the abnormal disc is “pressurized.” Click on this link for more information about lumbar discograms, Discography.

Treatment options include medications, physical therapy and injections. The injection that is used typically to treat this condition is an epidural. For more information on epidurals, Click on the appropriate spinal segment for more information.

Caudal Steroid Injection
Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection
Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection
Thoracic Epidural Steroid Injection

If an epidural is not beneficial, the same medication can then be injected using a more direct approach to get the medication right next to the painful disc. This is called a transformational injection. This is done only in the lumbar region because doing this type of injection is dangerous to do in the thoracic or cervical spine region. Click on this link for more information about transformational injections, Lumbar Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection.

Another procedure that can be considered but is rarely approved by insurance is intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET). In this treatment a catheter is inserted through a needle into the herniated disc. The catheter is heated to a high temperature for up to 20 minutes. The heat thickens and seals the disc wall, reducing the disc herniation and the related spinal nerve compression. Click on this link for more information about IDET, Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET).

Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists is recognized as an industry leader in pain management. We have a state-of-the-art facility in Reno, Nevada, that allows for us to offer the highest possible level of quality care of our patients.

We are committed to providing a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach for each individual’s pain complaints to provide the most appropriate care. Our approach includes analysis of biomechanics, joint motion, as well as skeletal, nerve and muscle tissues. Every individual is evaluated for the root cause of their pain – not just a “quick fix” approach to only provide symptomatic relief.

Your pain will be evaluated with latest diagnostic tools and technologies used by the professionals at Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists to make accurate assessments including: EMG/Nerve testing, MRIs, x-rays, bone scans, and diagnostic pain injections.


Over 90% of our facet joint injection patients report improvement in their condition. Over 75% said their condition improved by more than 50%

Over 83% of our epidural patients report improvement in their condition. Over 75% said their condition improved by more than 50%

Overall, 83% of our patients report a better quality of life, 60% report less pain, and 62% report improvement in their function

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