Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)

Having good spinal function is integral in daily living and health and wellness. Degenerative disc disease sounds like a vicious and troubling disease however it is not a disease at all. It’s simply a collective term that describes natural and typical ageing of the spine. Our spine is made up of interlocking bones with shock absorbers in between them. We call these shock absorbers intervertebral discs (discs). Over time, with years of ageing and recreational and sporting activities this can all add up and lead to some wear and tear of these discs and eventually they may start to degenerate (get a bit used).

We can get wear and tear or degenerative disc disease in any part of the spine and this usually relates to our occupation and the pressures we have placed on our spine throughout life. As we age we naturally lose fluid from our intervertebral discs and this can lead to small tears (annular and radial tears) and bulging and ruptured discs (herniated). All these things lead to spinal stiffness and pain. When the loss of fluid the degeneration of the disc advances the discs thin and this causes the vertebrae to become unaligned (like weak mortar between bricks) and transmit large forces to the parts of the vertebra bones that are not meant to take force ultimately leading to the formation of boney spurs (arthritis). This leads to more degeneration and the cycle continues.

Symptoms of lumbar degenerative disc disease

Depending on where you get degenerative disc disease will determine what your symptoms are. Symptoms can range from nothing at all to marked low back pain. a For example the neck and the low back are the two most common regions for degenerative disc disease to occur. In the neck patients may complain of headaches, dull and sharp pain, shooting pains into the base of the neck, shoulder, arm and hand or just spinal stiffness with or without pain. In the low back symptoms may range from spinal stiffness, all the way through to intense pain and sciatica symptoms. Sometimes people may find walking to be too painful and the most comfortable position is simply lying down.

Treatments of lumbar degenerative disc disease

Unfortunately patients with degenerative disc disease usually rely on medications. At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) our chiropractors and physiotherapists use a combination of advice, reassurance, exercise therapy and rehabilitation, and mechanically specific exercises to improve spinal flexibility and limit the progress of pain and dysfunction associated with degenerative disc disease. Our treatments are based on the best available research and guidelines. Our chiropractors in the Balmain and Dee Why use treatments that are extremely gentle, safe and effective.

Causes of low back pain

The following conditions are common causes of low back pain.