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What is Meant by Degenerative Disc Disease? Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis of DDD


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Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is part of the natural process of growing older. Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a condition in which the spinal discs start to dehydrate and shrink. Degenerative disc disease causes loss of disc height and less room between the vertebrae. This condition is usually found in the neck (cervical) and lower back (lumbar) regions of the spine. Degenerative disc disease is also called spinal degeneration or simply disc disease.

There are several possible causes for Degenerative disc disease. Sometimes discs becomes dry and shrunken due to leaking of protein from the disc. Degenerative disc disease can result from trauma (acute or chronic / repetitive), infection, or the natural processes of aging. It can euphemistically be referred to as the “grey hairs of the spine".


1. Local Pain
2. Stiffness
3. Muscle tingling, numbness, or weakness
4. Restricted activity / Loss of mobility
5. Symptom relief with certain movements or positions
6. Radiating upper body symptoms with cervical DDD.
7. Pain in the low back, buttocks, thighs, or neck
8. Pain that worsens when sitting, bending, lifting, or twisting
9. Pain that feels better when walking, changing positions, or lying down
10. Periods of severe pain that gets better after a few days or months
11. Numbness and tingling into the legs
12. Weakness in the legs
13. Foot drop


Degenerative disc disease is diagnosed with a medical history and physical examination. During the exam, your doctor should check for range of motion and pain associated with the affected area, as well as any tenderness, numbness, tingling, or weakness.

1. Blood and / or urine tests to rule out other causes of pain
2. MRI Scan -a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
3. X-ray -a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially the bones
4. Discography -injecting dye into the affected spinal area of an awake patient to obtain clearer x-ray images

Conservative treatments are tried first for Degenerative Disc Disease and surgical treatment options are considered last resort for Degenerative Disk Disease.

For more details about the spine treatment availability and cost, please visit at


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