Degenerative disc disease is a common cause of low back pain and neck pain. Individuals with degenerative disc disease usually experience symptoms related to regular wear and tear of the spinal discs. Depending on how far the disease has progressed, you may have weakness, numbness, and hot, shooting pain in the arms or legs. This disease can result in chronic low-level pain with episodes of more severe, debilitating pain.
While everyone’s spinal discs will have some amount of wear and tear as they get older, not everyone will develop degenerative disc disease. Commonly referred to as DDD, this chronic condition is extremely common in people over the age of 20. It is a form of osteoarthritis that targets the spine, resulting in muscle spasms, inflammation, and abnormal instability. DDD can affect all parts of the spine, including the lower, middle, and upper spine.
Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
Most people will not experience any symptoms of DDD until the disease has progressed and becomes very painful. However, there are a handful of symptoms you should be aware of:
- Neck pain
- Leg pain
- Thigh pain
- Low back pain
- Buttocks pain
- Muscle spasms
It is important to note that the term “degenerative” can be misleading. In most cases, degenerative implies that the symptoms get worse as we age. With DDD, this is not the case. Degenerative describes how the discs degenerate over time. In fact, it is not a disease at all but, rather, a natural, age-related condition. Thanks to regular wear and tear and pain, the discs in the back can become painful. Generally speaking, the condition does not get worse over time, but actually starts to feel better as the body adjusts.
Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease
Pain that occurs as a result of degenerative disc disease usually comes from one of the following:
- The disc dries out as we age, meaning it can no longer absorb shocks as well as it used to
- Sports and regular wear and tear
- Both can lead to tears in the outer core of the disc
- Injuries that lead to swelling, soreness, and instability, usually in the lower back region
It is estimated that most people will have some degree of disc degeneration by the age of 60. This condition can be treated by using hot and cold packs to numb the area, doing aerobic exercises at least 20 minutes per day, and, in some extreme cases, spinal procedures and surgeries. To learn more about the treatment options for degenerative disc disease offered at our pain management clinics, please do not hesitate to contact one of our locations in Allen, Anna, Dallas, Frisco, or McKinney.