Degenerative Disc Disease
What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of low back and neck pain, and also one of the most misunderstood. Degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine, or lower back refers to a condition where one or more of your discs becomes dehydrated and deteriorated and begins to cause low back pain. In some people, this condition can be genetically related, but in most it is related to multiple factors. Our vertebrae and discs can simply wear down and develop micro tears in the outer wall of the disc called the annulus. Sometimes theses conditions can also result from a trauma such as an accident or excessive lifting of heavy objects.
The discs in our spine do not have a blood supply, so when they do sustain a traumatic injury they do not repair themselves. Sometimes insignificant insult or injury to the disc can start a degenerative cascade that begins to wear out the disc. Degenerative disc disease is fairly common and estimated to affect 30% of people 30-55 years of age. Not all people with degenerative disc disease will suffer from pain or be diagnosed formally. In fact, people 60 years of age are expected to have some level of disc degeneration and usually have abnormal findings on an MRI scan.