Degenerative disc disease is a condition that occurs due to aging. When one or more of your spinal discs between the spinal vertebrae column break down or degenerate, they cause back pain, hence degenerative disc disease. Although it is classified as a disease, degenerative disc disease is actually not an illness but a naturally occurring condition that occurs when you age.

There are rubbery discs in between the single components of the vertebrae. These discs are the reasons why you can bend your back ; they act as shock absorbers. Over time, these discs wear out as you age and are unable to provide the same level of protection as they used to.

Signs and Symptoms

Sometimes there is no pain. At other times, there can be intense pain that makes it difficult for one to perform routine tasks.

  • This condition begins with spinal degeneration. As time passes, the symptoms may spread to other body parts, causing pain, numbness and weakness. Usually these symptoms become worse as we age.
  • There can be mild to severe discomfort and even debilitating pain. The condition can lead to osteoarthritis, which is characterized by back pain and stiffness.
  • Weakness and pain in the back that extends to other body parts.
  • If the degenerative disc occurs in the lumbar or lower part of the spine, the pain may extend to buttocks and upper thighs.
  • If the degeneration occurs in the cervical spine or neck, pain in the shoulders, arms and hands may be felt.
  • Spinal instability can also be developed and will lead to spasms in the neck or lumbar region as your body attempts to stabilize your vertebrae.
  • There can be episodes of intense pain, which may worsen when you sit, walk, bend, lift, or change position.

Causes

Aging is the leading cause of degenerative disc disease, which may worsen due to stress on the spine and occasional injuries of the back.

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