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Degenerative Disc Disease


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The University of Miami Health System’s Spine Program delivers the latest in degenerative disc disease care, including minimally invasive spine surgery, led by a team of the region’s best neurosurgeons.

The discs in your spine are soft, rubbery tissue that lie between the bones. As you age, these discs start to dry out, shrink and degrade, leading to conditions like herniated discs  or spinal stenosis.

Most people will experience some degeneration in their lifetime and many do without feeling any significant discomfort. However, there are some who feel extreme pain, numbness or weakness. When this occurs, it is commonly referred to as degenerative disc disease, although it is really more of condition.

Our program is powered by the most advanced technology, groundbreaking research and medical education. That is why we are the best-in-class and why you should choose us to help alleviate your back and neck pain.


The experienced physicians at UHealth’s Spine Program determine if your back pain is caused by degenerative disc disease by reviewing your medical history, a thorough physical examination, and diagnostic tests.

During this test, you will receive an injection of saline into your disc(s) under CT guidance. This is done to provoke any pain and/or abnormal response. This can show abnormal nerve pathways generating pain inside the injured/degenerated disc.

Electromyography and Nerve Conduction Velocity
Electroneurophysiological testing is done with current and electrodes to determine nerve function/dysfunction. This can demonstrate nerve damage.

This diagnostic test uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce film images of internal tissues, bones and organs.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
This diagnostic procedure uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

This procedure uses dye injected into the spinal canal to make the structure clearly visible on x-rays.


Physical Therapy
Back rehabilitation focuses on relieving pain and improving mobility. Treatment plans include exercise programs to improve range of motion, improve flexibility and mobility, increase muscle strength, and increase endurance.

For less severe conditions, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen sodium) can help relieve pain and decrease inflammation.

Heat and Cold Therapy
Alternating a heating pad and cold packs on the injured area can help decrease inflammation and loosen muscles.

Our expert team of spine surgeons is specialized in managing these problems with the full array of surgical techniques, including minimally invasive approaches when applicable.

  • Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF): The XLIF is the process of accessing the intervertebral disc space and fusing the lumbar spine by approaching the spine through the side (lateral) instead of through the front (anterior) or back (posterior).

  • Laminectomy: A laminectomy is a surgery performed to relieve pressure or compression on a patient’s spinal cord or nerves. Experts at UHealth’s Spine Program remove the lamina, which is the bone on the back of your spine, in order to decompress your spine. This creates more space for your spinal cord and nerves. It is most commonly performed in the neck or lower back.

  • Cervical Disc Replacement: Cervical disc replacement surgery is an option for patients with cervical disc herniations who have not responded to non-surgical treatment. In this minimally invasive procedure, an intervertebral disc is removed and an artificial disc is inserted between the two cervical vertebrae. The artificial device is used to preserve motion at the disc space.

Why Choose UHealth?

Team-based approach. Our program consists of a team of highly specialized and caring professionals, including neurosurgeons, pain rehabilitation specialists and physical therapists, who will be there for you before, during, and after your surgery.

Precision medicine. At UHealth, minimally invasive spine surgery for degenerative disc disease is precision medicine at its finest. Everyone experiences back pain and nerve dysfunction differently. Our spine surgeons focus on the specific cause and location of your back condition. We are here to relieve your symptoms with as little impact to your body as possible.

Access to the largest variety of procedures.  We offer more than 30 unique minimally invasive spine procedures and treat both adult and pediatric patients. We also perform spinal fusions, decompressions, artificial disc replacement and other back surgeries. Our board-certified minimally invasive spine neurosurgeons perform more than 1,000 surgeries a year.

The latest technology. We use the latest technological advancements to achieve the best results. Our comprehensive array of highly-specialized, innovative technology and leading-edge instruments for minimally invasive surgery (MIS) procedures include:

  • O-arm®
  • Mazor Renaissance™ Spine Robot
  • Spinal endoscopy 
  • Tubular dilator retractor systems
  • High resolution microscopes
  • Neuro-navigation

Minimally invasive spine surgery (MIS). MIS is less painful and offers you a quicker healing time because it causes less damage to surrounding tissues. It also means you have a less noticeable scar than you would get from a traditional surgery. In fact, it is sometimes as small as two centimeters.

If you want to know the cause of your back pain and how to treat it, our expert team at the UHealth Spine Program can help. Request an appointment online or call 305-243-BACK (2225) today.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.