Degenerative Disc Disease of one or more intervertebral disc(s) of the spine, often called “degenerative disc disease” (DDD) or “degenerative disc disorder,” is a condition that can be painful and can greatly affect the quality of one’s life. Disc degeneration is a disease of aging, and though for most people is not a problem, in certain individuals a degenerated disc can cause severe chronic pain if left untreated.
It is estimated 80 – 90 percent of people in the United States will suffer from back pain at some time during their lives. Back pain is the second most common reason people visit their family doctors. On any given day, almost 2 percent of the entire United States workforce is disabled by back pain. It is the cause of enormous healthcare expenses.
For some of us, degenerative disc disease is part of the natural process of growing older. As we age, our intervertebral discs can lose their flexibility, elasticity, and shock-absorbing characteristics. For others, degenerative disc disease can stem from an injury to the back. There may be no symptoms. In some cases, the spine loses flexibility and bone spurs may pinch a nerve root, causing pain or weakness.
Degenerative disc disease may cause back and/or leg pain, as well as functional problems such as tingling or numbness in your legs or buttocks, or difficulty walking.
Treatments can vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and how much they limit your everyday activities.