What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

The bones, or vertebrae, that make up the spine are separated by discs. These discs allow for range of motion, standing, sitting, walking and are subject to a lot of everyday wear and tear. Over time and with age, disc degeneration may happen and this typically causes low-level chronic pain, which can flare up at times resulting in numbness, weakness and shooting pain that radiates down the arms or legs. The most painful degenerative disc conditions occur in the neck and lumbar spine, or lower back because these areas of the spine move the most and receive the most amount of stress over a person’s lifetime.

Degenerative disc problems are actually considered a condition, rather than a disease and naturally occur with the aging process. The degeneration refers to the disc itself not the progression of the condition over time. Most of the time, degenerative disc disease can be managed with non-surgical treatments.

Talk to your doctor about taking steps to treat your degenerative disc problems with non-surgical techniques including physical and/or occupational therapy, rest, gentle and regular back exercises, anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications, muscle relaxants, adequate sleep, weight loss (if applicable), or perhaps an assistive device such as a cane.

If you have degenerative disc disease, it is important to seek treatment and monitor your pain to make sure that your condition does not lead to addition issues such as spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative spondylolisthesis or even scoliosis.