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You may have heard of degenerative disc disease as a cause of back pain. Degenerative disc disease is not a true disease, despite its name. But that doesn't make the suffering any less genuine. 

Degenerative disc disease, whether caused by aging or an injury, might limit your activities. Some people require surgery. In this article, we will tell you everything you should know about degenerative disc disease.

What is degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a prevalent source of back pain, particularly as you age. The discs that cushion the vertebrae begin to dry out. Normal wear and tear or an injury can also cause disc deterioration.

The amount of the breakdown, as well as how it affects people, differs. A person may have significant disc disintegration but just modest discomfort, whereas another person may have little disc injury but horrific agony.

Causes of degenerative disc disease

Several causes, including aging, can contribute to the development of disc degeneration. Specific considerations include:

  • The disc is drying out. The disc is around 80% water when we are born. The disc dries up and no longer absorbs shocks as efficiently as it used to.
  • Daily activities and sports that produce rips in the disc's outer core Most people have some degree of disc degeneration by the age of 60. However, not everyone at that age suffers from back discomfort.
  • Injuries can result in pain, pain, and instability. 

Changes in the discs are more common if you smoke, engage in strenuous physical activity (such as repetitive heavy lifting), or are extremely overweight.

Symptoms of degenerative disc disease

Disc degeneration may be asymptomatic, or the pain may be so severe that the sufferer is unable to maintain their normal activities. The problem begins with spinal damage, but symptoms can spread to other sections of the body over time. Symptoms frequently worsen with aging. The discomfort can range from minor to severe and incapacitating. It can progress to osteoarthritis, which causes back discomfort and stiffness.

The most frequent initial symptom is back pain and weakness that extends to other areas. Tingling and numbness in the legs or feet are also possible. The discomfort may expand to the shoulder, arm, and hand as well.

Instability in the spine may also cause muscular spasms in the lower back or neck as the body tries to stabilize the vertebrae. This may be excruciating. The individual may have acute pain flare-ups. Sitting, bending, lifting, or twisting may aggravate the discomfort. It may be relieved by walking, lying down, or changing positions.

Treatment options for degenerative disc disease

The degree of degenerative disc disease will determine the course of treatment. In most cases, the condition is not serious enough to necessitate surgery. Before contemplating surgery, the doctor may begin any of the noninvasive procedures such as heat and/or ice therapy, activity adjustment, pain medicines, physical therapy, and epidural injections of steroids or pain medication. 

Surgery to treat degenerative disc degeneration is typically advised only when non-surgical therapies have failed. The purpose of surgery is to change the underlying processes that cause discomfort in the spine, such as excessive micro-motion, inflammation, and/or muscular tension. Surgery to replace the injured disc with an artificial disc may be necessary at some stage. To stabilize the spine, the surgeon may also prescribe a spinal fusion.

Prevention of degenerative disc disease

Lifestyle adjustments can help to prevent or decrease the course of spinal degeneration. Obtaining and maintaining healthy body weight, avoiding or stopping smoking, and frequently exercising to improve strength and flexibility can also decrease your risk of developing degenerative disc disease. 

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