Conditions and Treatments

Degenerative Disc Disease

What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease is a common source of chronic pain in the lower back. The spine is made up of a column of stacked bones called vertebrae. Flat, gel-like discs that provide cushioning between the bones separate the vertebrae. The discs are made of a tough outer layer, called the annulus fibrosis, and a jelly-type center, called the nucleus pulposus. As we age, the discs begin to deteriorate, most commonly by drying out and shrinking. This reduces the disc’s flexibility and height. As a result, the weakened disc cannot hold the vertebrae together as well as it could previously. Unlike muscles or other body tissues, discs do not have the ability to heal themselves. The disc degeneration can lead to instability in the spine, where the spine can no longer bear the patient’s weight or perform normal activities without severe pain. In addition, as a result of the collapsed disc the foramen may become secondarily narrowed, giving rise to radiculopathy. For some, the condition may not cause any pain or symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease?

What Are the Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease?

What Are the Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease?

Non-surgical Treatment