Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a condition that occurs when the discs in the spine, which act as cushions between the vertebrae, begin to deteriorate with age. This can lead to a loss of height, stiffness, and increased pain in the affected area. Symptoms of DDD can include chronic back pain, stiffness, numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, and weakness in the muscles. Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination, medical history review, and imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans. Treatment options for DDD may include non-surgical measures such as physical therapy, pain medications, or chiropractic care, or surgical options such as spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement. It's important to seek medical advice if you are experiencing persistent or severe back pain.
Stiffness: People with DDD may experience stiffness and a reduced range of motion in the affected area.
Numbness or tingling: DDD can also cause numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, depending on the location of the affected disc.
Weakness: In some cases, DDD can cause weakness in the muscles and difficulty with coordination.
Genetics: Some people may be genetically predisposed to developing DDD.
Trauma: A sudden injury or trauma to the spine, such as a fall or car accident, can cause the discs to degenerate faster than they would otherwise.
Repetitive motions: Repetitive motions, such as those involved in certain types of manual labor, can put excessive stress on the discs in the spine and contribute to the development of DDD.
Overweight or obesity: Excessive weight can place additional stress on the discs in the spine and increase the likelihood of developing DDD.
Smoking: Smoking has been shown to reduce blood flow to the discs, which can impair their ability to heal and regenerate, and increase the risk of developing DDD.
Medical history review: Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, including when they started, how often they occur, and what makes them better or worse. They will also ask about any previous injuries or conditions that could contribute to your symptoms.
Imaging tests: Your doctor may order one or more imaging tests, such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans, to get a detailed view of the affected disc and the surrounding structures. These tests can help your doctor determine the cause of your symptoms and assess the severity of your condition.
Nerve tests: In some cases, your doctor may order nerve tests, such as an electromyogram (EMG) or nerve conduction study, to assess the function of the nerves and muscles in the affected area.