Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)
Although it’s a normal part of the aging process, degenerative disc disease can cause painful symptoms. Fortunately, there are minimally invasive treatment options that help provide relief and keep you active.
What Is Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)?
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is part of the natural process of growing older. As we age, our intervertebral discs lose their flexibility, elasticity, and shock absorbing characteristics. The outer fibers that surround the disc, called the annulus fibrosis, become brittle and are more easily torn. At the same time, the soft gel-like center of the disc, called the nucleus pulposus, starts to dry out and shrink. The combination of damage to the intervertebral discs, the development of bone spurs and the gradual thickening of the ligaments that support the spine can all contribute to degenerative arthritis of the lumbar spine.
To a certain degree, this process happens to everyone. However, not everyone who has degenerative changes in their lumbar spine has pain. Many people who have “normal” backs have MRIs that show disc herniations, degenerative changes, and narrowed spinal canals. Every patient is different, and it is important to realize that not everyone develops symptoms as a result of degenerative disc disease.
What Are The Symptoms Of Degenerative Disc Disease?
When degenerative disc disease becomes painful or symptomatic, it can cause several different symptoms due to the compression of the nerve roots. Depending on where your degenerative disc is located, it could cause:
- Back pain
- Radiating leg pain
- Neck pain
- Radiating arm pain
These symptoms are caused by the fact that worn out discs are a source of pain because they do not function as well as they once did, and as they shrink, the space available for the nerve roots also shrinks. As the discs between the intervertebral bodies start to wear out, the entire lumbar spine becomes less flexible. The result can be back pain and stiffness, especially towards the end of the day.