Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of low back pain and also one of the most misunderstood, according to conversations with our patients in Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Hampton Roads.  Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is typically associated with aging. As you age, your discs, like other joints in the body, can degenerate (break down) and become problematic: that’s a natural part of growing older as your body deals with years of strain, overuse, and maybe even misuse. However, DDD can occur in people as young as 20, according to our non-surgical back doctor.  In fact, some patients may inherit a prematurely aging spine.

Degenerative disc disease involves the intervertebral discs. These are the cushions between your vertebrae in your spine. As you age, the discs can lose flexibility, elasticity, and shock absorbing characteristics. They also become thinner as they dehydrate. When all that happens, the discs change from a state that allows fluid movement to a stiff and rigid state that restricts your movement and causes pain.

Symptoms

If you have chronic back or neck pain, you may have degenerative disc disease. The most frequent symptoms are lower back pain and spasm, according to our physical therapists. Pain is made worse by sitting, bending, or standing, and is often relieved by lying down.  It commonly occurs in your low back (lumbar spine) or neck (cervical spine).

Diagnostic tests such as an MRI are performed at our  non-surgical pain relief center and are helpful in identifying areas of disc degeneration.

Image of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Lumbar Disc
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Prevention

A tailored combination of conservative measures such as physical therapy with spinal stabilization training and anti-inflammatory medications from our nonsurgical back doctor are used initially in treating this condition.

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Make an appointment to meet with Dr. Bragg to discuss treatment options for Degenerative Disc Disease.