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Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview

Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), in fact, is not a disease. The term Degenerative Disc Disease is referred to to describe the condition in the body when a disc in the spine is worn out, degraded due to aging process through time. Continue reading to find more about this body condition.


What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease Signs and Symptoms

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatments

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), in fact, is not a disease. The term Degenerative Disc Disease is referred to to describe the condition in the body when a disc in the spine is worn out, degraded due to aging process through time. Degenerative Disc Disease  is a common phenomenon that occurs to most of aged people and does not cause any serious symtoms. However, the patients have this disease would suffer annoying attacks, affecting their daily life activities.

Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview - 1

Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview – 1

No matter how simple Degenerative Disc Disease definition may sound, many patients diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease are still struggling when trying to figure out what this diagnose precisely means for them.

This article will help you understand what Degenerative Disc Disease really is and what you can do when you diagnose it.

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease 

Take an in-depth look into the actual causes of Degenerative Disc Disease , is it true that time is the only culprit causing Degenerative Disc Disease ?

A young, normal back always has the existence of intervertebal discs between the block-like bones of the spine to provide height and allow the person to have various movements like bending, twisting flexibly. The spinal discs act as a shock absorbers that help our back stay flexible during restraning pressure.

From time to time, those discs gradually lose their durability and become weaker as a normal consequnce of aging process.

Most of the people show their signs of Degenerative Disc Disease when they get old. There are several factors trigger the disc degradation, including age:

  • The fluid of discs is dried out. This will make your discs lose the function as shock absorbers, as the loss of fluid makes your discs thinner and less flexible.
  • Tears or cracks in the outer core of the discs from injuries, or even high intense sport activities. These cracks will let nucleus inside the disc go out, resulting in the bulge, rupture, breakdown of the the disc.
Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview - 2

Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview – 2

These factors are more possibly to occur to smokers and physical workers who have to lift heavy things regularly. Obese people are also at greater risk of having symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease.

The degeneration process may start after a serious injury that affect the spinal discs.

When the space between the spinal bones gets smaller, the filling between them is also reduced, making the spine become less durable and stable. Because of that, the body response by creating bony growths which are also called bone spurs (osteophytes). Bones spurs will push forces on the spinal nerve roots or spinal cord. This is one of the causes leading to pain and the effect on nerve operation.

Degenerative Disc Disease signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease are mostly unclear. They can be easily mistaken with common back pain, hip pain, pain at buttocks and thighs. However, these can be signals of Degenerative Disc Disease. You should be aware of the following signs:


This is always the very first sign of Degenerative Disc Disease. The pain affects the areas like your back, lower back, hip, thighs,  neck, arm and leg. The pain is excacerbated when you conduct movements, such as benching, twisting or lifting. Sitting can also trigger pain. The pain ranges from niggling to the most severe. And it usually lasts for a few days to months.

2. Numbness

The numbness happens depending on the position of the pinch nerve roots. The parts that often get numb are: foot, heel, the back of the foot, thigh, etc.

This symtom does not necessarily happen right after the pain attack. Numness occurs at various levels but mostly at extremities.

3. Weakness in muscles

This symtom shows a sign of a damage relatedto nerve roots. The weakness is mostly leg muscles or foot drop.

4. Myasthenia

Myasthenia is the last symptom you see after a long time, when you notice the decrease of the size of your arms, legs that challenges you to conduct simple movements. The possible outcome is when you can not walk anymore.

Degenerative Disc Disease Diagnosis

  • Cervical spine X- ray: The X-ray images are often taken after a neck injury. This is to draw out the damaged parts like crack, disorder or instability. If degenerative changes can be seen right after the injury, then it will be assumed that they existed prior to the injury.
  • CT scan: This is the most costly method to evaluating bone injury like cracks or disorder. Protuberant or herniated discs can not usually be seen on  CT scan as well as related to the symtoms of the patients. CT scan is really useful when it comes to illustrating bone structures although it is not as precise as MRI in displaying nerve roots, discs or spinal cords.
  • MR checking (MRI) of the cervical spine is the best strategy for imaging the spinal string and nerve roots, the intervertebral plates, and the ligaments. Notwithstanding, MRI discoveries must be of quality when they are translated together with and in the light of the whole clinical picture, and precisely match the clinical discoveries.
  • Cervical myelography comprises of neck x-beams taken after the infusion of radio-hazy complexity material into the spinal liquid by means of a lumbar cut, and is trailed by post-myelogram CT sweep of the cervical spine (myelo-CT). It might give helpful pictures of the inside of the spinal channel, and can uncover spaces of the spinal liquid sac brought about by swelling or herniated circles or bone goads that may be pushing on the spinal line or nerves. X-ray gives predominant pictures of the spinal line, nerve roots and circles.
  • Electrodiagnostic studies (EMG and nerve-conduction velocities) are considered very helful in identify the ill capacity of muscles of arms and hands. This method can even detect the reasons for the weakness, which could be the abnormality or constriction of nerve roots or other reasons.
Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview - 3

Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview – 3

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatments

  1. Medical Treatment

Moderate treatment incorporates back instruction and back school, exercise, prescriptions, physical modalities, and infusions.

Back training and back school

The objective is to show patients how to offer themselves some assistance with managing their back torment. To start with, information of typical spine life structures and biomechanics is taught, together with the instruments of harm. At that point, the determination is disclosed to the patient, making utilization of spine models. The impartial or adjusted position, which varies from patient to patient, is looked for.

Back school educates the patient essential body mechanics, for example, the right stance for standing, remaining at a work area or planning phase, sitting, brushing teeth, washing the face, pushing and pulling a weight, lifting a weight, getting in and out of bed, resting, getting into an auto, and sitting in an auto. Back school additionally shows patients the best possible and uncalled for methodologies for sitting, twisting forward, resting, hacking, or sniffling when their back is difficult.

Physical Exercise

Distinctive sorts of activities are recommended, contingent upon every patient’s conclusion. Floor practices comprise of stomach supporting, changed sit-ups, twofold knee-to-mid-section or low back extends, seat lifts, mountain and droop works out, knee-to-elbow works out, hamstring extends, expansion activities, and augmentation adaptability works out. Swimming activities are a percentage of the best exercises for back agony. Vigorous activities enhance perseverance if performed routinely (ie, ≥ 3 times/wk). Unwinding activities are useful for easing solid pressure that might disturb back agony.

Make sure that there is a specific exercise plan. Conducting regarding to the plan will help you strictly adhere to the treatment and get the most of it.

Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview - 4

Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview – 4


These incorporate muscle relaxants, nonsteroidal mitigating medications, and analgesics.

Physical modalities

These incorporate the utilization of ice packs, warming cushions, electrical incitement, phonophoresis, iontophoresis, unwinding, and biofeedback.


Epidural steroid infusions are most generally utilized for remedial purposes. The sort and measurements of steroid differs broadly. Methylprednisolone (80-120 mg) blended with ordinary saline to accomplish a volume of 8-10 mL is a powerful and safe measurements and volume. In a few focuses, 2-3 infusions are given over a 1-to 2-week course, however long haul results don’t give off an impression of being any not quite the same as those accomplished with a solitary infusion.

The reaction to epidural infusions is variable, and numerous powers trust the infusions are just of transient worth. Regardless of the fact that an ideal reaction happens, close to 4 infusions ought to be given every year. Prompt agony alleviation might be accomplished by including 4-6 mg of additive free morphine to the epidural steroid infusion. Pruritus is a solid indication of epidural situation.

Patients ought to be watched for 24 hours for respiratory dejection or urinary maintenance taking after morphine epidural steroid infusions, despite the fact that these are phenomenal antagonistic impacts. On the off chance that morphine is to be maintained a strategic distance from, lidocaine or bupivacaine can be utilized as a part of mix with the steroid to accomplish prompt agony control, yet of brief length of time.

Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview - 5

Degenerative Disc Disease: Overview – 5

2. Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment is utilized as a part of roughly 5% of patients and incorporates lumbar surgeries and cervical surgeries. Here are several surgical treatments.

Lumbar Surgeries

The most well-known lumbar surgical systems for degenerative circle malady fall into 2 classifications. The main, decompression, includes evacuation of bone or plate material from around a compacted nerve root to alleviate squeezing of the nerves and give more space to their recuperation. This methodology is performed through laminectomy and diskectomy. The second, spinal combination, includes utilizing a bone joining to breaker one or more vertebrae and stop movement at an agonizing vertebral section. This, thusly, ought to stop or reduction the torment produced from the joint. Below are some types of Lumbar Surgeries.

Lumbar diskectomy

Amid surgery, the influenced level is distinguished through a back midline approach. The cut in the ligamentum flavum is begun in the midline, where it is tented far from the dura. The ligamentum flavum is extracted in 1 piece to uncover the interlaminar space on 1 side. The excising so as to open is enlarged parts of lamina. Trouble in withdrawing the root recommends that it is packed by a circle herniation or entangled in a limited sidelong break.

Once the nerve root is distinguished, it is withdrawn and a cruciate cut is made in the protruding annulus. The free parts of the plate are extricated with pituitary rongeurs. The nerve root ought to be unreservedly versatile and effectively withdrawn, else it might even now compacted or parallel stenosis might be available. In the last case, the sidelong break and the neural foramen ought to be broadened (see beneath, Lumbar laminectomy for 1-level focal and parallel stenosis). A free fat joining is put over the presented dura to anticipate attachments.

Lumbar laminotomy for 1-level focal and parallel stenosis

The operation includes a way to deal with the stenotic level through a 1-level reciprocal insignificant halfway laminotomy. A gage is embedded into the parallel waterway to decide its size. The average third of the second rate articular procedure is evacuated with an osteotome or rongeur. The average and foremost parts of the unrivaled articular procedure are uprooted with a force instrument, a Kerrison rongeur, or an osteotome and hammer. For parallel stenosis, evacuation of a greater amount of the predominant articular procedure until the horizontal waterway breadth is 6 mm normally is essential. Toward the end of the methodology, a free fat union is put between the dura and the back muscles to anticipate attachments.

Lumbar laminectomy for central and lateral stenosis at several levels

In the event that moderate measures come up short, the operation is basically the same with respect to 1-level stenosis. The dura frequently is uncovered simply above or just beneath the injury through a typical interlaminar space. The gap is then broadened as depicted above, and the average bits of substandard and unrivaled features are uprooted. The introduction is then extended longitudinally with a Kerrison rongeur, taking consideration to not harm the dura. The laminectomy ought to be as short as could be expected under the circumstances. In any case, a long laminectomy does not make the spine flimsy, gave the sidelong 66% of all the aspect joints are saved.

Postoperative consideration is the same as after diskectomy, yet these patients more often than not encounter less postoperative inconvenience.

Cervical surgeries

The objective of surgery for cervical radiculopathy is to satisfactorily decompress the nerve roots. The alternatives accessible are (1) foremost cervical diskectomy (ACD), (2) ACD and combination (ACDF), (3) ACDF with inside obsession (plating), and (4) back foraminotomy. The decision of the suitable technique relies on upon various variables, including the area of the neural pressure, the vicinity of deformation or flimsiness, and potential horribleness. All in all, front pathology, for example, a halfway herniated circle and foremost osteophytes, is dealt with anteriorly, and back pathology, for example, posterolateral osteophytes/plate herniations, might be treated with a back methodology.

The objective of surgery for degenerative cervical circle malady with myelopathy is to decompress the spinal line sufficiently. Writing with respect to spondylotic myelopathy does not show obviously the prevalence of either the front methodology or the back methodology. Choices for surgery incorporate (1) single-or different level ACDFs, (2) single-or numerous level foremost corpectomy with combination, (3) laminectomy with or without combination, and (4) laminoplasty. The decision of methodology depends on the area of the pathology, the dangers and advantages of every system, and the geometry of the spinal waterway.

We have provided you some overall information about Degenerative Disc Disease. With these information, we hope you can have better understanding of the disease and have good prevention.