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Degenerative Disc Disease


Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is not really a disease but a term used to describe the normal changes of the discs in the spine as a person ages. The breakdown of the discs can result in back pain, neck pain, or other problems.

Age-related changes that cause DDD include a loss of fluid in the discs and tiny tears or cracks in the outer layer (annulus or capsule) of the disc. A sudden (acute) injury leading to a herniated disc may also begin the degeneration process.

Pain from DDD is first treated with ice or heat and with over-the-counter medicines. If you develop health problems such as osteoarthritis, a herniated disc, or spinal stenosis, you may need other treatments. These include physical therapy and exercises. In some cases, surgery may be recommended.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRobert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last RevisedMarch 12, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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