Degenerative disc disease refers to damage that occurs to the intervertebral discs due to aging.
The individual bones in the spinal column are called vertebrae. The human spine is composed of a stack of 24 vertebrae. There are cushions composed of cartilage between each vertebra that are called intervertebral discs. These discs are pliable and compressible and function as shock absorbers. They allow flexibility of the spine. Age and the activities of daily life can damage these discs, resulting in neck and back pain.
Disc degeneration is one of the most common causes of lower back pain, but it’s frequently misunderstood. For example, 30% of people aged 30-50 years old will have some type of degeneration in their spine. When they hit 60, most people will have some changes. But, the majority of patients won’t experience any painful symptoms.
Further, if you do experience pain, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will get worse. Unlike the common understanding that a degenerative disc and associated pain would get worse, generally the pain does not worsen over time. Further, disc degeneration is a typical part of aging. Many people have changes in their spinal discs who experience no symptoms at all. But, for others, the damaged disc can lead to extreme pain that affects their overall quality of life. Talk to one of our doctors today to discuss what we can do to help you through this process.