For many patients, surgery is the only answer - salvation. But for all too many others, it can be a nightmare.
Which brings us to Dr. Kevin Pauza, a founder of the Texas Spine and Joint Hospital in Tyler, Texas.
"I spent decades treating patients who've had surgery, the surgery was fusions," Dr. pauza said. "Patients would do well for a year or two, and they'd always come to me and need more help."
In his experience, fusion was usually the wrong answer: "The spine's made to be a structure that bends with every movement we make, and if we immobilize a segment of the spine, the adjacent segment breaks down. That's known as the domino effect.
"So my thought was, can we do something to that disc so that we don't have to fuse it? Can we bring the disc back to life?"
And that's the headline of this story. Just imagine: A procedure that repairs and re-grows discs, that doesn't involve spinal fusion, that's no more than minimally invasive, outpatient surgery.
The inspiration came to him when he thought about something as basic as how an ordinary cut heals.
"I realized what heals a cut is something that's very simple: It's two products that are in you and I, they're in everybody."
In our blood plasma - they're called thrombin and fibrinogen. For the cut to heal, the two components come together, and they make a substance called fibrin.
When the two components, in concentrated form, are injected into the disc through a kind of squirt gun Pauza invented, just like epoxy glue, they combine and become fibrin.
Injected into the damaged disc, the compound acts like a sealant, filling cracks and crevices, and eventually allowing the disc to re-grow. "It allows our degenerated disc to turn into a young, healthy, normal disc," said Dr. Pauza.