Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Risk Factors of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a condition that occurs when your spinal discs wear and tear. It is common in older people. As you age, the fluid in your spinal discs dries out, leading to wearing. Injuries, sports, or repetitive physical activities can cause degenerative disc disease. The bones in your spinal column act as shock absorbers and stabilize your movements, bending and twisting. Therefore, damaged spinal discs can lead to abnormal movements. Severe degenerative disc Shrewsbury damage can lead to other complications like adult scoliosis, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. 


The most common symptoms of degenerated disk disease are neck and back pains. This pain can be irregular, lasting for weeks or months, and lead to numbness or tingling in the arms and legs. Pain can also radiate down your buttocks and lower back and worsen when sitting, bending, or lifting.


Physical examination: Your doctor can check for muscle strength by observing atrophy, wasting, or unusual body movements, indicating your nerve is damaged or degenerated disc. Pain, when you move or touch your lower back, can indicate degenerated disk. Your physician can use a reflex hammer on different back parts to check for nerve function. Poor or no reaction may indicate compression on your nerve root. Hot and cold stimuli show how your nerves react to temperature changes.

Imaging scans: Doctors use CT or MRI to observe the state of your spinal nerves and discs and their alignment. MRI can show the presence of a tumor or cyst on your discs.  


The treatments of degenerative disc conditions aim at easing pain and stopping more damage. They include:

Over-the-counter medication: These medications are pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, which fight inflammation. They ease your pain and reduce swelling. A degenerative disc can cause muscle spasms, so your doctor can suggest painkillers to relieve these tremors.

Steroid injections: Steroid shots are strong medications that reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. Your doctors can inject steroids into the fluid-filled site of your spinal cord or in the affected nerve or muscle.

Radiofrequency neurotomy: Your specialist can use electric currents to burn your sensory nerves to prevent pain from going to your brain.

Physical therapy: Engaging in exercises can help relieve pain and strengthen your back muscles. Consult your healthcare provider on the exercises that best fit your condition.

Hot and cold therapy: You can use cold packs to reduce pain associated with damaged discs and heat packs to reduce inflammation.

Surgery: Your doctor will recommend surgery when other treatment techniques have not worked. Your surgeon can perform a discectomy which involves removing the injured part of the disk. This relieves pressure off the nerves. In severe cases, your specialist can remove the entire disk and replace it with an artificial one.

Risk factors

Degenerative disc disease mostly affects older people. Injuries like falling, obesity, smoking, and jobs that require more physical engagement are the factors that can increase your chances of getting this complication.

Early diagnosis and treatment of degenerated discs can prevent severe spinal column damage. Schedule an appointment at the Center for the Functional Restoration of the Spine to relieve pain from degenerative disc disease.