The upper vertebrae (cervical – in the neck) and lower vertebrae (lumbar – lower back) are the portions of your spine most subject to injury and deterioration.
And it’s in these portions of your spine that you’re most likely to encounter degenerative disc disease.
Not truly a “disease”, degenerative disc disease describes the natural process of wear and tear on your spinal discs.
Let’s review some of the most common symptoms of degenerative disc disease.
A dull, continuous pain may indicate degenerative disc disease. This pain will often flare up and may do so repeatedly as the degenerative process continues. Flare ups can last for several days or even several weeks. These are sometimes attributed to increased activity and stress.
Other symptoms to be aware of are as follows:
- Pain resulting from bending or twisting and lifting heavy objects.
- The feeling that something is “giving out” and not able to support other structures.
- Reduction in range of motion.
- Spasms and muscle tension. With degenerative disc disease, there may be no pain aside from that caused by spasms.
- Pain may radiate and be sudden (like being stabbed or sudden heat sensations). For problems in the cervical spine, pain will be experienced in the upper extremities. For lumbar occurrences, pain is in the lower extremities.
- Pain increases when maintaining a standing or sitting position beyond a certain point. For the cervical vertebrae, pain increases when looking down at a mobile device or book.
- Pain is reduced when positions are changed often. Stretching and walking can help reduce pain, also.
People experiencing pain from degenerative disc disease don’t experience it uniformly. Pain is a highly individual, subjective phenomenon to begin with. How it manifests with DDD is extremely diverse from patient to patient. Some people have almost no pain, others experience pain as an annoyance, while others experience debilitating pain that impacts quality of life and critical function.
Important to Note
In the case of degenerative disc disease, patient pain level does not indicate the severity of the condition. Some serious cases of DDD produce little to no pain. It’s also been widely observed that minor cases can produce a disproportionate pain response. That’s why the diagnostic process is so crucial to treating DDD.
It’s only with the support of competent medical professionals that your condition can be properly assessed, using diagnostic imaging, medical history and a physical examination.
Do you suspect you have degenerative disc disease? Then it’s time to get a professional opinion.
CTSI – Patient-Centered Spine Care
Central Texas Spine Institute, under the directorship of award-winning spine surgeon, Dr. Randall Dryer, is here to treat all conditions of the spine.
Offering modalities as diverse as pain management, non-invasive treatments and surgical solutions, we center the patient in all we do.
Our team is committed to delivering the highest quality care available, and to restoring quality of life and patient wellbeing.
Whether you suspect your back problems are caused by degenerative disc disease or something else, come talk to us. We’re spine specialists who care about our patients and their total health.