As we age the discs in our back can wear down and lead to back pain leading to Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD). Degenerative disc disease usually occurs in active and healthy people who are in their thirties or forties. Some people with deterioration have no pain and do not become of aware of the condition until they go in for a check up or other health problems occur. This can occur in any level of the spine, which leads to localized pain.
There are three different ways that can cause pain to occur:
- Pain that starts gradually and then gets worse over time.
- A major injury followed by sudden and unexpected pain.
- A small injury followed by sudden back pain.
Symptoms are different depending on the location of where degenerative disc disease occurs.
- Cervical Degenerated Disc Disease is located in the neck.
- Thoracic Degenerated Disc Disease is located in the mid-back.
- Lumbago Degenerated Disc Disease is located in the lower back.
Cervical Degenerated Disc Disease Symptoms
- Sore and or stiff neck.
- The pain can radiate into your shoulders, arms, and hands.
- Over time your neck becomes less flexible.
- Numbness, tingling, and weakness in your shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers.
- Disc degeneration occurs less frequently than in the lower back.
Thoracic Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
- Muscle spasms.
- Pain while twisting the back.
- Slumped/bad posture.
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction.
This is not as common as neck or lower back because you do not bend or flex as much so there is less stress on the disc. It can also be caused by genetics, injury, illness, or trauma. This can also lead to spinal stenosis.
Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
- Pain increases while sitting, twisting, bending, or lifting.
- Pain is localized in the lower back.
- Pain radiates to your hips all the way down your legs.
- Irritation and pain felt in one or both of your legs and buttocks. (Sciatica)
- Severe episodes that generally last from a few days to a few months before going back to their normal pain level.
Lumbar DDD is most often caused by normal wear and tear but can be caused by and injury in the lower back due to a twisting motion.
The most pain from DDD usually occurs while sitting because the position puts more weight on them. Lying down typically relieves the pain since this relieves stress on the disc space. Activities like bending and twisting usually make the pain worse. Many studies have shown that people with DDD tend to feel better while walking or running rather than sitting or standing for long periods of time.