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Advances in Orthopedics
Volume 2012, Article ID 970752, 7 pages
Review Article

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease: Current and Future Concepts of Diagnosis and Management

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Spine Service, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY 10021, USA

Received 1 December 2011; Accepted 26 January 2012

Academic Editor: Brian R. Subach

Copyright © 2012 Fadi Taher et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Low back pain as a result of degenerative disc disease imparts a large socioeconomic impact on the health care system. Traditional concepts for treatment of lumbar disc degeneration have aimed at symptomatic relief by limiting motion in the lumbar spine, but novel treatment strategies involving stem cells, growth factors, and gene therapy have the theoretical potential to prevent, slow, or even reverse disc degeneration. Understanding the pathophysiological basis of disc degeneration is essential for the development of treatment strategies that target the underlying mechanisms of disc degeneration rather than the downstream symptom of pain. Such strategies ideally aim to induce disc regeneration or to replace the degenerated disc. However, at present, treatment options for degenerative disc disease remain suboptimal, and development and outcomes of novel treatment options currently have to be considered unpredictable.