Degenerative Disc Disease

degenerativeDiscDegenerative disc disease is not really a disease but a term used to describe the normal changes in your spinal discs as you age. Spinal discs are soft, compressible discs that separate the interlocking bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine. The discs act as shock absorbers for the spine, allowing it to flex, bend, and twist. Degenerative disc disease can take place throughout the spine, but it most often occurs in the discs in the lower back (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region).

The changes in the discs can result in back or neck pain and/or:

  • Osteoarthritis, the breakdown of the tissue (cartilage) that protects and cushions joints.
  • Herniated disc, an abnormal bulge or breaking open of a spinal disc.
  • Spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal, the open space in the spine that holds the spinal cord .

These conditions may put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, leading to pain and possibly affecting nerve function.


Treatments can vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and how much they limit your everyday activities. Not all patients with pain from degenerative disc disease require surgery. For mild to moderate pain, more conservative treatment methods including massage therapy, physical therapy, and chiropractic care, can manage the condition. A proper core strengthening program will also help in the long term management of the spine.  For more severe patients our doctors can discuss other options  for pain management.