Your spinal discs are important — they help your back stay flexible and absorb shock to your body. Unfortunately, degenerative disc disease is fairly common and is a frequent cause of lower back pain. Many adults have some degree of degenerative disc disease due to aging, but it may require special attention if the pain becomes persistent.
What are the symptoms of degenerative disc disease?
Symptoms of degenerative disc disease include pain in various spots that depends on the particular discs that are degenerated. The pain often occurs in your lower back, thighs, buttocks, or neck. It can be constant or sporadic and is often made worse by sitting or bending due to the increased load the actions place on your discs. Degenerative disc disease can also make you more prone to experiencing disc herniation, or damaged or bulging discs.
What are the causes of degenerative disc disease?
Each of your spinal discs has a firm outer layer, which contains the nerves, and a soft inner core. Disc degeneration is caused by inflammation in the proteins of your discs in the soft core. The thickness of your discs diminishes over time from general wear and tear as you age. Daily activities and physical activity can also cause tears in the outer core of your discs. There is not much blood supply to your spinal discs, so once they are injured, they do not repair themselves.
How is it treated?
The pain that results from degenerative disc disease can be treated in a few ways. An epidural delivers relief in the form of anti-inflammatory medicine in the fluid surrounding your spinal cord. Spinal stimulators send electrical impulses to your spinal cord in order to interrupt pain signals, while spinal fusion removes damaged discs and fuses the spine together for stability.