What Is Disc Degeneration Disease?

January 29th, 2018 by LOC Team

Disc degeneration disease isn’t really a disease, this is just the name given to the normal changes that occur in your spine as you age. Your spinal discs act as shock absorbers for the spine. They are soft on the inside, with a hard shell. They allow the spine to bend, flex and twist. Disc degeneration disease can occur in any place throughout the spine, but it is most common in the lower spine.

The changes that take place to cause disc degeneration disease can be caused by a number of conditions including:

  • Herniated discs – this is where an abnormal bulge occurs in the spinal disc. The inner, softer part of the disc breaks through the hard shell.
  • Osteoarthritis – this causes a breakdown of the tissue that protects the joints in your spine.
  • Spinal stenosis – this is a narrowing of the spinal canal.

These are the conditions that can cause disc degeneration. However, the direct causes of disc degeneration can be found below.

What are the causes of disc degeneration disease?

As we said, disc degeneration disease is an age-related condition. Our spinal discs do breakdown as we age. Although the conditions above can speed up disc degeneration, other age-related issues that cause disc degeneration include:

  • The loss of liquid in the spinal discs – if you lose fluid in your spinal discs, this will mean they will lose the ability to act as shock absorbers for the spine. Fluid loss also makes the discs less flexible, thinner and narrows the space between the vertebrae.
  • Tiny cracks in the outer layer of the disc – the softer, inner part of the spinal disc may break through the outer layer if there is a tear or crack present. This can cause a bulge in the disc and the herniation mentioned above.

These changes to the spinal discs are more likely to occur in people who smoke and those who do a lot of physical work. People who are obese are also more likely to show symptoms of disc degeneration disease. If you have had a sudden injury causing a herniated disc, this can bring on symptoms of disc degeneration disease.

The symptoms of disc degeneration disease

Of course, one of the biggest symptoms of disc degeneration disease is back pain. However, you may also feel some back in your neck, but this varies from person to person. Many people have no pain at all; others have such severe pain that it can affect their daily life. An affected disc in your neck can send shooting pains down your arms, while an affected disc in your lower back can send shooting pains through your bum and down your legs.

The treatment for disc degeneration disease

To relieve the pain from disc degeneration, use ice or heat on the affected area. You can also use painkillers and nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. Your doctor can prescribe you with stronger painkillers if necessary.

The treatment you have for disc degeneration disease depends on the cause of it. While some people can manage the pain with strengthening exercises and physical therapy, others may need to have surgery.

We hope this look at disc degeneration disease has been helpful. To find out more about the causes of disc degeneration disease and the treatments available for them, please explore our website further.