If you are experiencing back pain but haven’t been involved in any type of traumatic accident, there’s a good chance you’re suffering from a degenerative disc ailment. This condition, which can be quite debilitating, is caused by relatively normal changes that occur in the discs in your spine.
Your discs perform a function similar to the shock absorbers in a car. They provide a cushion between your vertebrae (the bones in your spine). Your discs also ensure flexibility in your back, allowing you to bend over, turn right or left without moving your feet, and engage in most types of sports and leisure activities.
Throughout life, your discs are subjected to a certain amount of wear and tear—more so if you have an active lifestyle or regularly lift heavy objects. With wear and tear, your discs will lose some of their cushioning capacity, leading to bone-on-bone friction and inflammation of nerves and nerve endings. Discs may dry out (they’re mostly made of water) and offer less shock absorption. They also can crack or tear, allowing the inner core of the disk to come out, a condition referred to as a herniated, bulging, or ruptured disc.
The Common Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease typically involves some type of pain, usually in the upper thighs, buttocks, or lower back. The pain may come and go and can be excruciating. In most instances, the pain worsens if you sit, bend, twist, or lift and subsides when you move, walk, or lie down.
Treating Degenerative Disc Disease
The pain caused by degenerative disc disease can be managed in the short term with proper medication. However, to more permanently and effectively treat it, physical therapy and/or surgery may be necessary.