Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease Q & A

What is degenerative disc disease?

Spinal discs are tough, rubbery pads that act as shock absorbers between your back bones (vertebrae). Age-related wear-and-tear to your spine may lead to degenerative disc disease.

Although it’s not actually a disease, this condition occurs when degenerative changes to a spinal disc cause pain.

What causes degenerative disc disease?

Several factors can cause degenerative disc disease, including:

Drying out of the disc

When you’re born, your spinal discs contain about 80% water. Over time, discs dry out and are no longer able to absorb shock as effectively.

Sports and activities

Playing sports or performing repetitive activities like lifting heavy objects can cause tears in the disc.


When a disc becomes injured, it can lead to swelling, soreness, and instability. Because spinal discs have very little blood supply, they can’t repair themselves the way other tissues in your body do. This can lead to disc degeneration.

What are the symptoms of degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease may cause pain in the neck or lower back, depending on the location of the disc damage. Common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:
• Pain that worsens when sitting, bending, lifting, or twisting
• Periods of severe back pain that come and go, lasting a few days to months
• Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs

You may experience temporary relief from pain if you walk, run, or change positions when lying down.

How is degenerative disc disease diagnosed and treated?

First, the team at Specialists in Spine Surgery reviews your medical history and performs a physical exam. They may also take tests, like a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to look for damaged discs.

Then, they explain your condition and discuss your best options for treatment. Depending on your needs, treatment for degenerative disc disease may include:
• Physical therapy
• Medications to reduce pain and inflammation
• Hot and cold therapy

If your pain and symptoms persist despite nonsurgical treatments, the team at Specialists in Spine Surgery may recommend a surgical procedure, such as artificial disc replacement or spinal fusion. They make sure you understand all your treatment options and feel confident making a decision.

To find relief from degenerative disc disease, call Specialists in Spine Surgery TODAY!

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