What is spondylosis (degenerative disc disease)?
As we age, the water and protein content of the body’s cartilage decreases. This makes the cartilage thinner, weaker and more delicate. Because both the intervertebral discs and joints of the vertebral column (facet joints) are partially composed of cartilage, these structures are increasingly subject to wear and tear and degenerative changes throughout the years. The ongoing deterioration of discs between vertebrae is referred to as degenerative disc disease.
Degeneration of the disc is medically termed spondylosis. Spondylosis can be diagnosed by examining an X-ray or MRI scan of the spine, where it can be visualized as a narrowing of the normal “disc space” between neighboring vertebrae. An MRI scan also may show the loss of water content in the disc.
When degenerative disc disease progresses
Degeneration of the disc tissue makes the disc more susceptible to herniation and can cause local pain in the affected area. Disc degeneration can occur at the cervical, thoracic and lumbar levels of the spine, possibly causing pain in the affected area and radiating pain along the nerves emerging from the spinal canal. When disc degeneration affects the neck, it is referred to as cervical disc disease, whereas disc degeneration that affects the lumbar spine is called lumbago. Lumbago refers to generalized pain that is localized to the low back. Symptomatic lumbar disc degeneration is most common in people of working age, usually between 30 and 50.
Your next steps…
If you are concerned that you are showing signs of degenerative disc disease and would like to investigate your suspicions, take a moment to visit our symptoms page. Please note, however, that only a physician can accurately diagnose degenerative disc disease.
One of the best ways to prevent this condition is gaining knowledge of how it develops. With this knowledge, useful predictions can be made concerning activities that accelerate or slow the progression of degenerative disc disease. We suggest you take a few moments to review our page dedicated to the causes of degenerative disc disease.