Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of low back pain and also one of the most misunderstood. Disc degeneration is a natural part of aging and over time all people will exhibit changes in their discs, some more than others and some may never even develop symptoms. The onset of symptoms typically starts with an injury, a rotation to put something on a shelf or the swinging of a golf club. However, the pain can also be caused by the simple wear and tear of the spine. Pain from this condition can vary, but generally:

  • Centered on the low back, and can possibly radiate into the hips
    and legs
  • Can worsen with sitting
  • Exacerbated by certain movements, such as bending, twisting,
    or lifting

Treatment Options

Following the review of a patient's history and physical information, a formal diagnosis can be confirmed with an MRI. For most people, degenerative disc disease can be treated with conservative treatment options. These can range from medication to control the inflammation, applying heat or ice packs, chiropractic manipulation, to physical therapy and exercise. Many times, epidural steroid injections can aid in delivering medication directly to the painful area to decrease inflammation. Surgery is typically only considered an option for patients who have not received relief over six months of conservative care and/or are significantly constrained from performing activities of daily living.