Degenerative Disc Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Degenerative Disc Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment | HealthSoul

Degenerative disc disease refers to a condition that causes pain as the discs in your spine break down. 

Your spinal discs are essentially built-in shock absorbers between your spine’s bones, or vertebrae. They’re responsible for keeping your back flexible, so you can carry out daily activities that involve bending and twisting without pain. 

However, as you age, your discs may begin showing signs of wear and tear. In fact, most people’s spinal discs break down over time, but the pain levels vary from person to person. If the pain is directly linked to your degenerative discs, chances are you have degenerative disc disease.

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative Disc Disease Causes

Pain from degenerative disc disease has many different causes, including the following:

  • Discs Dry OutWhen your fresh from your mother’s womb, your spinal discs are mostly water. As you grow and age, those same discs thin out and lose the water. As your discs thin and flatten out, they begin to lose their effectiveness in terms of absorbing shocks because there is less padding between your discs. Unfortunately, when this happens, you become vulnerable to other more painful spinal problems. 
  • Discs CrackEveryday wear and tear places a lot of stress on your discs, especially if you’ve experienced a minor injury or two over the years. Sometimes, that wear and tear cause discs to crack. When this happens, especially near the nerves, the resulting pain can be persistent and hamper your quality of life. In severe cases, as the cracks worsen, your discs may slip or bulge out of place, resulting in a herniated disc and even more pain.

Degenerative Disc Disease Causes

Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms

If you have degenerative disc disease, you may experience neck and back pain on a regular basis. Other symptoms vary depending on how severe your condition is. Some common symptoms include the following:

  • Pain in Your Upper Thighs, Buttocks, or Lower Back
  • Pain That Ebbs and Flows
  • Increase in Pain When You Sit, Lift, Bend, or Twist
  • Pain Decreases When You Lay Down 

In more severe cases, your condition may result in tingling or numbness in your legs, arms, and hands. Your leg muscles may also become weaker, meaning the condition is beginning to affect more nerves near your spine.

Degenerative Disc Disease Diagnosis

If you think you may have degenerative disc disease, you should consult with your doctor. During your appointment, your doctor will go over your symptoms and medical history and ask common questions, such as the following:

  • When Did the Pain Begin?
  • What Part of Your Spine Hurts?
  • Do You Feel Pain in Other Parts of Your Body?
  • Have You Ever Had a Spinal Injury?
  • Do You Have a Family History of Spinal Conditions?

Your doctor may also examine your spine for signs of the degenerative condition and may ask you to bend or walk to determine what type of movements cause the pain to flare up. Your doctor may also order an MRI or X-ray to diagnose the problem

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment

With degenerative disc disease, the goal of treatment is to alleviate any pain you’re feeling while preventing more damage from occurring. Based on your symptoms and severity of your condition, your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Steroid Shots
  • Physical Therapy
  • Medications
  • Surgery

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment

Degenerative Disc Disease Prognosis

Many degenerative disc disease patients have positive outlooks, thanks to the treatment options available. Over time, the right treatment plan can help you manage or eliminate any pain caused by the condition.