Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease

Lumbar degenerative disc disease develops as the spongy discs between vertebrae in the lower back get drier and thinner with time, impairing their shock-absorbing function. They also crack and develop tiny tears in the outer wall near nerves. A rupture in the wall allows the gel inside to ooze out and irritate nearby nerves. All of these changes can cause pain, numbness or weakness.

Lumbar degeneration also can include the facet joints and supporting ligaments of the spine. These degenerative changes can lead to instability developing in the lumbar spine, such as spondylolisthesis or scoliosis. In addition, these degenerative changes can begin to secondarily compress nerves contained within the spine, leading to pain, numbness and tingling in the legs, known as spinal stenosis.

Pain and difficulty walking don’t need to limit your activities. Our skilled physicians have the knowledge and experience to diagnose your condition correctly and to identify the right treatment for a broad range of spinal conditions. These include the most complicated issues and more common conditions, such as lumbar degenerative disease, that can affect adults of all ages.

Our specialists know surgery isn’t right for everyone. If simpler treatments don’t work and relief will come only from an operation, you’ll want surgeons with the most experience and expertise. We’ll evaluate your case and give you a treatment plan customized for you.

Norton Leatherman Spine is respected around the world as a leading provider of spine care. We also are the premier destination for patients in Louisville, Southern Indiana and beyond with lumbar degenerative disc disease. The combined team of orthopedic spine and neuroscience specialists at Norton Leatherman spine provides comprehensive care.

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment

A herniated or bulging lumbar disc can compress nerves, leading to pain and numbness in the legs.

Many nonsurgical treatments can eliminate lumbar degenerative disc pain. Options include:

  • Cold/heat therapy
  • Therapy to help you better understand and manage your pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical therapy and occupational therapy
  • Mental health therapy to help you cope with your condition
  • Injections to reduce swelling around a nerve

Surgery is considered for patients who have not gotten relief or whose symptoms have worsened. Surgical options

Lumbar discectomy can surgically remove pressure from nerves compressed by a herniated or bulging lumbar disc. Our surgeons often can perform a lumbar discectomy through a minimally invasive approach, which leads to accelerated rehabilitation and return to full function.

Lumbar laminectomy removes all or part of the lamina — the back of the vertebra — in cases where the entire spinal canal is narrowed due to degenerative changes. Our surgeons can remove the pressure on the nerves with a laminectomy procedure, leading to significant improvement in pain and function.

Minimally invasive lumbar fusion in addition to nerve decompression is necessary in some cases to restore stability to the spine. Our surgeons offer a variety of minimally invasive procedures to get you back to full function as soon as possible. They are actively helping to pioneer the next generation of minimally invasive spinal fusion procedures.

International Reputation for Excellence

Kenton D. Leatherman, M.D., pioneered new approaches to spine care after World War II. His commitment to bringing the best and most innovative care to his patients provides the foundation for today’s practice. Our orthopedic and neurosurgical spine physicians combine proven treatments that have built our reputation for over 25 years with new developments at the leading edge of innovative care.

Norton Leatherman Spine surgeons are recognized experts in the evaluation and treatment of lumbar degenerative spinal conditions, having published extensively on this important topic:

  • Steven D. Glassman, M.D., has published extensively on the impact of diagnosis on patient-based outcomes following lumbar surgery.
  • Mladen Djurasovic, M.D., has published on predictive factors that help determine who will benefit most from surgery among patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease.
  • Charles H. Crawford III, M.D., has published on the factors which predict optimal outcomes with lumbar fusion surgery.
  • R. Kirk Owens II, M.D., has performed research and published about low back pain improvement following treatment of a lumbar herniated disc.

About Norton Leatherman Spine

Norton Leatherman Spine is a combined team of orthopedic spine surgeons, neurosurgeons from Norton Neuroscience Institute and pain management specialists who provide care for adults and children from Louisville and Southern Indiana, as well as from across the region, nation and world.

  • The multidisciplinary team incorporates expertise from a variety of specialties to offer a comprehensive array of treatment options that include minimally invasive and nonsurgical therapies.
  • Our team approach to the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of spine conditions works cooperatively with primary care physicians and other specialists to develop a treatment plan as unique as each individual.
  • Because you may not need surgery, you may work with our pain management team, physical therapy specialists and others who can create a care plan with the right types of treatments for you.
  • If you need surgery, you’re in experienced hands. Norton Leatherman Spine physicians perform more than 4,000 surgeries a year.
  • Our team has more than 45 specialists at nearly 20 offices across Louisville and Southern Indiana. Many offer same-day appointments and Saturday hours, with no referral needed
  • Our specialists are internationally recognized leaders in clinical research of spinal disease, injury and deformity, and have served in senior positions in the Scoliosis Research Society, the most prestigious organization for scoliosis surgeons around the world.
  • Norton Healthcare is the first health system in the nation to be recognized as an Advanced Orthopedic & Spine Center of Excellence by DNV.
  • We offer minimally invasive and robotic-assisted procedures that carry less risk and can speed your recovery.
  • We use the EOS Imaging system, which collects high-resolution images while exposing the patient to 50% to 85% less radiation than traditional X-rays and 95% less than basic CT scans. The system is especially beneficial to scoliosis patients who often need repeated imaging to monitor their progress.
  • Use MyNortonChart to communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions and more, anytime from a mobile device or computer

Related Stories

Minimally invasive spine surgery sets woman on path to healthy living, starting a family
After looking in Boston, woman finds back pain relief in Louisville
Bodybuilding chiropractor back to training after successful spinal surgery
A lifetime of scoliosis won’t stop this woman from hiking trails around the world

Schedule an Appointment

Select an appointment date and time from available spots listed below.