Degenerative disc disease is usually the result of normal disc changes from the aging process. The discs are inflamed, becoming painful. As a person ages, the outer layer of the disc (the annulus) might thin or tear, causing disc herniation. The disc can also lose volume, which means there’s less gel for the disc to act as a proper buffer or shock absorber. The thinner disc means the vertebrae sit closer together, making the twisting and flexibility of the spine more difficult.
Degenerative disc disease can cause pain, usually in the lower back or neck area. Patients often find success with conservative approaches like physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory injections. If these measures don’t work, surgery is an option, most commonly spinal fusion.
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