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Degenerative Disc Disease

Symptoms, Causes, and General Information

Degenerative Disc Disease is not a specific condition but rather a term used to describe the degenerative process the spinal discs may undergo as a result of injury or the aging process. Degenerative Disc Disease occurs when the intervertebral disc loses the fluid within the disc that allows for flexibility of the disc. It is possible for Degenerative Disc Disease to impact any part of the spine but it would be most commonly found in the neck or lower back area.

The conditions that encompass Degenerative Disc Disease include:

  • Herniated cervical or lumbar discs
  • Spondylosis
  • Spinal Stenosis

Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms can include:

  • Pain in neck, thighs or lower back area
  • Feeling the need to switch positions constantly
  • Pain coming “in and out” for different lengths of time
  • Pain while: bending down, sitting down and/or twisting body
  • Anxious to lie down to subside the pain
  • A tingling sensation in all extremities

Causes:

  • Loss of fluid in the disc- A normal, healthy disc would consist of about 85% fluid. As we age it is known to lose a bit from time to time. This process flattens the disc, therefore bringing the vertebra closer together. This makes it harder for it to act as a cushion and less likely to absorb shock.
  • Miniscule cracks in the outer structure of the disc- It is possible for tears or cracks to form on the outer structure of the disc, which allows the fluid to make its way out more quickly. This is also the main cause of a ruptured disc.

Factors that can attribute to Degenerative Disc Disease

  • Overuse
  • Major or minor injury
  • Aging
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Obesity
  • Heavy Smoking