Without discs, your spine could not properly function. The discs act as a cushion in
between your vertebrae. Each disc has two parts to it; a strong, tough outside layer and
then a soft, jellylike inside. On the outside, nerves can be found, while on the inside are
proteins. However, as time goes on, the discs in your spine begin to wear down; they
can become dehydrated and brittle which causes them to break.
In reality, almost everyone’s discs will experience regular wear and tear as they age.
This natural process which results in pain in your spinal area is known as degenerative
disc disease. Some people may not notice any pain as the discs begin to break down,
others though may experience an uncomfortable pain. Though the word disease is in
the name, it is known as more of a condition rather than an actual disease.
Aside from dehydrating and drying out like a contact does, discs can also crack. When
discs crack, this is referred to as a slipped or herniated disc. This kind of disc can cause
other issues to arise due to its effect on nerves that are close by.
Unfortunately, once a disc is damaged or has broken, it is unable to repair itself and
assistance will be needed.
Aside from natural break down, every day activities such as playing sports while
growing up can lead to degenerative disc disease. In the same way, any type of injuries
involving the neck, back or spine can cause this condition, too. If you’ve been told you
have degenerated disc disease, then you have probably experienced one or more of
these symptoms: pain in your lower back, buttocks or thighs, pain that may last a few
days, or pain that lasts a few months; you may feel a stronger sense of discomfort or
pain when you are sitting, or when you twist or bend a certain way, but are able to find
relief when you stand or walk around; the pain goes away or lessens when you switch
positions or lay flat. One of the most common symptoms is a pain that seems constant
in either your neck or your back, depending on where the broken disc is located. Some
numbness or tingling in the arms and legs may also be felt.
To determine whether or not you have degenerative disc disease, the doctor will do a
physical exam and also want to review your medical history. An MRI will more than
likely be done to see how severe the damage to the discs are, but other tests will
probably be performed as well to confirm that it is degenerative disc disease and not
another condition or issue in the spine.
If confirmed, treatments may include acupuncture, a back brace or over the counter
pain medication. If the case is severe, the doctor may require you to look into the option
of replacing the disc(s) through surgery.