Although I can’t tell you which surgery is best for you, I can offer some guidance that can help make your decision. The decision to have surgery for degenerative disc disease (DDD) can be complicated. Often the back pain is intermittently manageable. Taking a hot shower or bath may help. A deep tissue massage may provide some relief. Even some gentle stretching can make the pain bearable. Before going straight to the operating table, please consider conservative treatments or modalities in which you have very little to lose and may result in a significant benefit to you. Epidural steroid injections, anti-inflammatory agents and physical therapy in general may be an effective non-surgical approach. Some people who have epidural steroid injections experience significant benefit for a prolonged period of time. If a normal epidural steroid injection lasts for approximately three months, and your injection lasts for much longer, you may be able to avoid surgery. If you do decide to try the epidural steroid injection, you may decide that it works so well that surgery may not be necessary at this time. In addition to epidural steroid injections many patients who have degenerative disc disease in the cervical spine find significant non-surgical pain relief with physical therapy, medications, exercise, chiropractic manipulation and even accupuncture. Whether we are discussing neck pain or low back pain, the pain itself is distracting but when arm or leg symptoms occur and are associated with pain, numbness, or weakness extending into one of both extremities, the possibility of nerve damage becomes very real. There a number of provocative tests which help your surgeon decide what to do and how quickly to do it.