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Degenerative Disc Disease Specialist

Louisiana Pain Institute

Cathy Zhang, MD

Pain Management & Cosmetics located in Covington, LA & Denham Springs, LA

Have you been told you have degenerative disc disease, and it’s causing you pain that you can’t manage? Turn to Cathy Zhang, MD, at Louisiana Pain Institute, with locations in Covington and Denham Springs, Louisiana. Dr. Zhang offers degenerative disc disease diagnosis and treatment, including state-of-the-art spinal fusion treatments like Aurora Spine’s ZIP ULTRA® lumbar fusion implant. Book your appointment online or over the phone today.

Degenerative Disc Disease Q&A

What is degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease is a condition characterized by wear-and-tear and the breakdown of spinal discs. Spinal discs act as shock absorbers between the bones of your spine, and they help your back remain flexible, so you can comfortably bend and twist.

As it breaks down your spinal discs, degenerative disc disease almost always causes sharp and/or constant back pain and neck pain. It causes pain that:

  • Originates in your lower back, upper thighs, or buttocks
  • Comes and goes over the course of days to months
  • May be nagging or severe, or oscillate between the two
  • Feels worse when you sit down, bend, twist, or lift
  • Feels better when you change positions, lie down, or move and walk around

Degenerative disc disease can also lead to numbness and tingling in the arms and legs.

What causes degenerative disc disease?

Disc degeneration happens over time with age and wear-and-tear, but not everyone feels it. When you feel pain from disc degeneration, it’s likely caused by your spinal discs drying out or cracking.

Drying out

When you’re born, your spinal discs consist of a tough outer wall and a soft inner core made up mostly of water. 

Over the years, the discs lose some of that water and get thinner. Without the water, your vertebrae lose a layer of padding between them. As they get thinner, your spinal discs struggle to absorb shock as effectively. Breakdowns like these can lead to degenerative disc disease.


Cracking develops as a result of the accumulation of tiny tears to your spinal discs from minor injuries and the stress of everyday movements over the years.

Tearing near nerves always has the potential to cause pain, and the cracking of your spinal discs can lead to painful secondary conditions, like a bulging disc and a slipped (herniated) disc.

How do you treat degenerative disc disease?

Fortunately, degenerative disc disease has a number of treatment options. 

For mild degenerative disc disease, you can relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation with simple over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, like aspirin or ibuprofen. If your case is a bit more moderate, you may find relief with a combination of OTC medication and physical therapy.

However, sometimes these measures aren’t enough. In that case, Dr. Zhang might recommend treatments like epidural steroid injections or minimally invasive spinal fusion. 

She offers state-of-the-art spinal fusion treatments, including the ZIP ULTRA® lumbar fusion implant. The ZIP ULTRA implant sits between vertebrae to provide stabilization and load sharing. It uses a locking mechanism, eliminating the need for screws.

Regardless of the severity of your degenerative disc disease, pain relief is possible. To learn more about the possibilities with Dr. Zhang, contact Louisiana Pain Institute online or over the phone today.