Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease but a term used to describe changes in your spinal discs as you age.  Degenerative disc disease is best described as the weakening of one or more vertebral discs. Vertebrae discs act as cushions between the vertebrae they are soft, compressible discs that separate the interlocking bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine.

The discs act like shock absorbers for the spine, allowing it to flex, bend, and twist. The condition very often begins when small tears occur in the disc wall (annulas). Another cause of pain due to degeneration is damage to the center (nucleus) of the disc. When damaged the nucleus loses water content which is needed for the disc to absorb impact.

Facts about Degenerative Disc Disease:

normal vertebrae vs disc with degenerative disc disease

  • Degenerative disc disease can develop as a natural part of the aging process, but it may also result from injury to the back.
  • Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of lower back pain.
  • Degenerative disc disease can take place throughout the spine, but it most often occurs in the discs in the lower back (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region).

Pain associated with degenerative disc disease is generally the result of two factors, inflammation and abnormal micromotion instability both factors can cause back spasm and be very painful.

Back pain caused by degenerative disc disease can happen periodically over a long period of time, however, the condition can be managed with a number of non-surgical treatment options including, pain medication and Epidural Steroid injections.