Degenerative Disk Disease


Degenerative disk disease is an age-related disease that arises from normal wear-and-tear on the spine. It involves the breakdown of the structure of the intervertebral disks that cushion each of the joints in the spine. The disks may lose some of their inner fluid layer, becomes thinner, and less durable. Due to these changes, they are more likely to spread out (bulging disk), tear (annular tear), or have the inner layer push through the outer layer (herniated disk or extruded disk).

Causes and Symptoms

Many individuals with degenerative disk disease do not have any symptoms related to it. However, others may experience pain to the point that they are unable to carry out their daily activities. The most common symptom of the early part of the disease is pain from the lower back to the upper buttocks and upper thighs (sciatica).

Degeneration (breakdown) of intervertebral disks due to normal aging processes
Traumatic injury, usually due to high-impact sports or motor vehicle accident

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your doctor will carry out a physical exam to check your nerve function, muscle strength, and movements that cause pain. Most people over 40 have at least some evidence of degenerative disk disease in diagnostic imaging, such as MRI. The doctor may carry out a discography, a procedure in which dye is injected into intervertebral disks to determine if they are damaged.

Physical Therapy
Epidural Injections
Steroid Injections


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