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Degenerative Disc Disease

Although everyone experiences some wear on their spine at some point in their lives, not everyone develops degenerative disc disease (DDD). Not technically a disease, the condition is a wearing away of the discs that act as shock absorbers between the spinal vertebrae in the back.

Once a disc is injured or starts to wear, it can't repair itself. It can take years, but eventually the degeneration of the disc may begin to cause back pain.

This degeneration is most common in active people over 30 and can be due to:

  • The disc drying out with age, causing decreased shock absorption
  • Daily activities, such as exercise, sports, and physical exertion, that tear the outer core of the disc
  • Injuries that cause swelling, soreness, and instability of the disc, resulting in lower back pain

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain in the lower back that may radiate to the buttocks, legs, hands, or arms, depending upon where the worn disc is located
  • Severe pain that comes and goes and ranges from discomfort to disabling pain
  • Back pain that’s worse when seated (sitting puts three times more pressure on the discs than standing or lying down)
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet
  • Pain that worsens with bending, lifting, or twisting
  • Less pain when changing positions, lying down, walking, or standing

Diagnosis and Treatment

The spine specialists at the Kelsey-Seybold Spine Center diagnose degenerative disc disease through imaging technology, such as X-rays and MRI. They then develop a treatment plan that may include nonsurgical options such as acupuncture, bracing, and medication. In most cases of DDD, surgical treatment isn’t necessary.

If you have frequent back pain and suspect degenerative disc disease may be the culprit, or if you are seeking nonsurgical treatment for DDD, contact the Kelsey-Seybold Spine Center today.

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