Degenerative Disc Disease (D.D.D) is one of the most common causes of low back and neck pain and also one of the most misunderstood!
The term “degenerative” implies that the symptoms will get worse with age. However the term does not refer to the symptoms, but rather describes the process of the disc degenerating over time.
Degenerative Disc Disease refers to the symptoms of back and neck pain caused by wear and tear on a spinal disc. Spinal discs act like shock absorbers between the vertebrae of the spine. They help your back to to stay flexible so that you are able to bend and twist. In some cases Degenerative Disc Disease also causes weakness, numbness and hot, shooting pains in the arms and legs. It typically consists of a low-level chronic pain with intermittent episodes of more severe pain.
Painful Degenerative Disc Disease is most common in the neck and lower back as these areas of the spine undergo the most stress and motion making them more vulnerable.
Despite what the name suggests this condition is not a disease but rather a condition in which natural, age related wear and tear on a disc causes pain, instability and other symptoms. The good news is that most cases can be managed without surgery!
What causes it?
The spinal discs are made up of a soft inner core and a tough outer wall. The discs change in ways that may cause Degenerative Disc Disease!
CRACK – The stress of everyday movement and minor injuries over the years can cause tiny tears in the outer wall which contains nerves, Any tears near these nerves can become painful and if the wall breaks down, the disc’s soft core may push through the cracks. The disc may bulge or slip out of place.
DRY OUT – When you are born the discs in your spine are mostly made up of water. As you age they lose water and get thinner. Flatter discs do not absorb shocks as well. The water loss also means less cushion or padding between your vertebrae.
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