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Degenerative Disc Disease

Over time, your spine can start to show signs of wear and tear. When these start to break down the vertebral discs and cause pain, this is Degenerative Disc Disease. 

What is Degenerative Disc Disease

The discs in your back are located in between the vertebrae of the spine. They act as cushions and shock absorbers. Discs help you stand up straight. And they also help you move through everyday motions, such as twisting around and bending over.

At birth, your intervertebral discs are made up of up to 80% water. This is a normal part of the aging process and, in many cases, is not painful as we age; however, the discs “dry out”, leading to poorer shock absorption ability and increased risk of small tears developing in the outer layer of the disc.

Degenerative Disc Disease can usually be shown in four phases, as seen below.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Signs and Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

Some of the most common symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease include:

  • pain in lower back, buttocks, or upper thighs
  • Pain aggravated by prolonged sitting or activities which load the intervertebral discs, such as bending, lifting or twisting
  • Relief of pain by changing positions, standing up, lying down, or walking
  • Pins and needles or numbness down the leg may also occur when the spinal nerves around the affected disc become sensitive or irritated

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease is usually a result of 'wear-and-tear', and therefore age can be a risk factor for it. This condition can also be caused by injury and overuse, which may result from sports or repetitive activities. Other risk factors can include:

  • car accidents
  • obesity
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • family history of disc degeneration
  • conditions affecting the spine, such as osteoarthritis or scoliosis

Statistics and Epidemiology related to Degenerative Disc Disease

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Shoulder Recovery Program

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Shoulder Pain Sydney CBD, Wynyard, Martin Place, Town Hall, Darling Harbour, Barrangaroo NSW | (02) 9934 9979

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