Degenerative Disc Disease
Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment of Degenerative Discs
Although not necessarily a disease, Degenerative Disc Disease, is a major cause of chronic neck and back pain that occurs when a spinal disc in the back or neck degenerates, or degrades, over time producing irritation and inflammation.
Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease
Several factors can cause Degenerative disc disease, including age. At birth, the discs in the spine are made up of 80% water. Because discs in the spine do not have a direct blood supply to feed the discs with water, oxygen, and nutrients, the discs must rely on a process called diffusion. If the flow of these elements is disrupted, the vertebral discs can dry out and become dehydrated and lose their shock absorbing abilities. Dehydrated discs become more susceptible to injury from normal wear and tear, physical stress, slips and falls, and day-to-day activities.
Degenerative changes in the back also can diminish the ability of the spine to carry the load of the upper body. This can lead to forward slippage of one vertebra on another, a painful condition called spondylolisthesis.
Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative discs can cause chronic pain in the back or the neck depending the location of the degenerated discs. Symptoms may also include:
- Pain that worsens while seated or when bending or lifting
- Radiating pain in legs or arms (Sciatica)
- Numbness and tingling
- Difficulty Walking