The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae. These bones are separated intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers and allow the spine to bend.
As people age, discs age, too. They are not as flexible anymore, because they lose fluid and shrink, moving vertebrae closer together. This natural aging process is called degenerative disc disease (even though it is not a disease-related condition). Most often, degenerative disc disease is found in discs of the low back and the neck.
The disc is made up of two main parts: the firm outer layer and the soft inner layer. When a disc is damaged, the outer layer can tear, causing the inner layer to bulge, leak or break off and place pressure on nerves roots in the spine, which can cause pain in other areas of the body. Even if the degenerative disc does not press on any nerves, you can still experience achiness in your back or neck.
While the term “degenerative” suggests the condition gets worse over time, this is often not the case. Discs degenerate in everyone, but degenerative disc symptoms caused by this condition can be improved and even completely resolved.
Degenerative discs can cause the facets to be more painful when pressure increases. It is called lumbar facet syndrome when a disc collapses and begins to move abnormally.
One of our physicians will give a physical exam to identify degenerative disc symptoms. A herniated disc can also be diagnosed by X-ray, MRI or CT scan.
Coastal Spine has several methods of providing degenerative disc treatments.