Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease. The phrase refers to the normal wear and tear of the discs (the "shock-absorbers" between our vertebrae) as we age.
The spine is composed of 33 vertebrae (bones) separated by soft compressible discs that cushion the bones of the spine as we move, rotate, bend and flex. While degenerative disc disease can occur anywhere along the spine, it most often happens in the discs of the lower back and neck.
Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
Over time, our discs can go through the following major changes:
- Loss of fluid in the discs, making them less flexible and less able to act as shock absorbers. This loss of fluid results in thinner discs which decreases the space between the vertebrae
- Tiny tears or cracks in the outer layer of the disc. Inside the disc is jelly-like material that can be extruded through these tears, causing the disc to bulge, break open (rupture) or break down into fragments.
Degenerative disc disease produces pain, the location of which depends upon which disc or discs are damaged. Some of the symptoms of degenerative disc disease are:
- Pain in the neck or arm if a cervical (regarding the neck) disc is affected
- Pain in the back, buttock, or leg if the affected disc is in the lower back (lumbar region)
- Bending, reaching up, or twisting often aggravate this pain
- Sensation of numbness or tingling in the arm or leg
- Weakness in the affected part of the body
The pain can start suddenly, if for example you are in an accident; after a minor injury (if you fall a short distance; or for no discernable reason.
Infuse® Bone Graft for Degenerative Disc Disease
The Infuse® Bone Graft involves surgery and is done only after alternatives have been shown to be insufficient. Such alternatives include a soft lumbar corset to support the back, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy.
Traditional spinal surgery involves a surgical procedure that harvests bone from the patient’s own hip for transplantation to the spine. One reason the Infuse® Bone Graft was developed was to avoid doing this first surgery.
Use of the Infuse® Bone Graft for degenerative disc disease involves placing the device between two vertebrae, which fuses them and stabilizes the spine. While the patient lies on his/her back or side, the surgeon or surgeons approach the surgical site by operating through the patient’s abdomen and moving the abdominal contents out of the way.
Once the surgeon can see the spine, he or she removes a portion of the affected disc. The graft is then implanted between the vertebrae which are on either side of the affected disc.
The graft is composed of a pair of two metal cages about the size of thimbles. The cages are the same height as the disc material that was removed. These cages contain sponges that absorb the Infuse® Bone Graft material — a mixture of sterile water and a powder containing rhBMP-2. The latter is a manufactured protein similar to a protein our bodies produce. This protein acts as a lattice into which new bone grows and attaches itself. The vertebrae thus are fused.
Some people have had problems with the implants. Data have shown the problems of Infuse® Bone Graft include bone growing where it should not be, the formation of inflammatory cysts, cancer and male infertility. Contact our Infuse® Bone Graft attorneys if you wish to seek finanical compensation for complications or injuries caused by implants.