Degenerative disc disease causes and symptoms

Degenerative disc disease causes symptoms like pain, muscle spasms or weakness and numbness, though symptoms vary greatly from person to person. Despite its frightening name, degenerative disc disease (DDD) is not a serious illness in itself. It is neither a disease nor always degenerative – it simply refers to the progressive deterioration of one or more of the spine’s discs, the cushion-like parts between the vertebrae, and a person who is diagnosed with DDD will not necessarily have progressively worse symptoms.

Degenerative disc disease causes

There is no one cause of degenerative disc disease, but in general, it begins with the weakening and dehydration of the discs over time. However, there are a number of factors that can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing degenerative disc disease or make it worse if they already have it. Such factors include:

  • Excessive alcohol or tobacco use
  • Being overweight
  • Trauma to the discs, such as herniation caused by a sports injury or a car accident
  • An active job, such as one that involves repetitive heavy lifting, bending or twisting

Degenerative disc disease symptoms

Some people with degenerative disc disease don’t experience any symptoms. If the damaged disc comes into contact with the spinal cord or a nerve root, though, it’s possible to experience symptoms like:

  • Pain in the area of the damaged disc or in the arms, legs or extremities
  • Traveling or radiating pain
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Reduced reflexes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Chronic headaches

If you believe you’re experiencing degenerative disc disease symptoms, and they aren’t improving with time and rest, it’s important to see your physician for a proper diagnosis. Once your physician determines you have degenerative disc disease, he or she can offer solutions that may provide you with the relief you need to return to your normal activities. In general, it’s best to start with conservative treatments like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and physical therapy, but if those don’t sufficiently relieve your symptoms, surgery may be an option.

If you have degenerative disc disease and you’d like to receive a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you’re a candidate for minimally invasive, outpatient surgery at Laser Spine Institute, please contact us today.