Degenerative disc disease or DDD, refers to a condition in which pain is caused from a damaged disc.

Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of low back and neck pain and can cause significant disability. It occurs when the circular discs between the bones of your spine develop degenerative changes that prevent them from acting as shock absorbers. 

In fact, by age 60, almost everyone’s spinal discs show some signs of deterioration. As you age, the discs may become dry, develop tears, weaken, or become thin. And if left untreated, it can lead to various complications.

Who’s at risk

Most people are only at risk as they get older. Athletes, on the other hand, can potentially develop DDD earlier in life. In some cases it’s caused by damage created from a twisting injury to the lower back. We’ve also seen clients develop DDD from the general overuse and early wear and tear that comes from rigorous training over many years.

Spinal discs

The moveable portions of the spinal column are composed of 24 individual bones (vertebrae) that make up the top three portions of your spine: your neck (cervical spine), upper back (thoracic spine), and lower back (lumbar spine). There’s a spinal disc between each pair of vertebrae. These discs have a tough exterior with a jelly-like core.

Spinal discs allow you to move and flex your spine without any pain by providing cushioning. 

Why is DDD problematic?

DDD is painful and problematic because it reduces the padding within the spine. The spine is made up of vertebrae which are padded with intervertebral discs. These discs serve as shock absorbers and allow for smoother, easier movement within the spine. Over time, some discs lose some of their hydration and height, which causes pain. Not all people will experience DDD as they age, and not all of those who do will show symptoms.

Symptoms of degenerative disc disease

In some people, spinal discs deteriorate and cause problems, including pain, abnormal sensations, and weakness. 

Symptoms vary depending on the location of the degeneration and the type of deterioration. Most people with degenerative disc disease experience chronic back and neck pain.

Complications of degenerative disc disease

Degenerative disc disease requires prompt evaluation and treatment to reduce the risk of complications. 

Among the complications that may arise are bone spurs, spinal canal compression, pain, herniated discs, and bladder problems.

Bone spurs

As part of the degenerative changes, bone spurs may develop. These bony growths develop at the edge of bones. This is the body’s reaction to the degenerative changes of the spine. Bone spurs can cause significant pain.

Spinal canal compression

Degenerative changes to the spinal column can place pressure on the surrounding nerves, causing compression of the spinal cord. This is called myelopathy. 

A group of nerves run through nearly the entire length of your spinal column. Degenerative disc disease can cause these nerves to become irritated or compressed, causing abnormal sensations such as numbness and tingling, as well as weakness.

Debilitating pain

Without appropriate treatment, degenerative disc disease can cause lasting, debilitating back pain. The pain may become so severe that you find it difficult to carry out your normal daily activities. It can interfere with your mobility and your overall quality of life.

Herniated discs

Herniated discs are one of the most common causes of degenerative disc disease. This occurs when a spinal disc develops a weak spot and the spongy inner tissue bulges out into the spinal canal. Low back pain is a common symptom. If the herniated disc is pressing against a nerve, you may experience numbness and other abnormal sensations.

Loss of bladder control

A severely herniated disc in the lumbar spine due to degenerative disc disease can cause loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence). You may also experience low back pain, leg pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness.

Get relief without surgery! 

Pain caused by degenerative disc disease can be debilitating. Early diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan can ease your pain and help you feel and function better.

If you’re a Charlotte, NC resident and you’re struggling with neck or back pain, Southern Pain & Spine Specialists Can Help!

Double board-certified Doctor Ammar Alamarie, and his team of specialists have extensive experience diagnosing and treating a full range of conditions, including degenerative disc disease.

We offer patients with DDD comprehensive treatment options to treat your pain at the source without surgery!So, if you’re ready to get out of pain, just Click Here to contact us online for more information and to set up your FREE consultation!

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