What Is Degenerative Disk Disease?

Degenerative disk disease may be the root of your back pain.

Aching back? If you experience back pain and other associated symptoms, you may have degenerative disk disease. 

What it is
Degenerative disk disease involves compromised disks between the vertebra that make up the spine. When healthy, these disks act as shock absorbers as you move through your daily life. When worn down due to degenerative disk disease, these disks are no longer able to act in this way effectively, which can result in pain, numbness, weakness, sciatica and other symptoms in the back, buttocks, legs and neck. While a certain degree of wear is often associated with aging, degenerative disk disease involves wear beyond what is typical.

How it's treated
Treatment depends on the severity of the condition and what does or does not provide relief for you. Treatment options range from physical therapy to steroid injections to surgery. Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles in your back and other areas to help compensate for the degenerated disk. Steroid injections can help reduce inflammation and lessen nerve pain. While they provide some people with temporary relief, others sometimes find them ineffective. In more severe cases, surgery is sometimes recommended to remove the degenerated disk and fuse two vertebra together.

To learn more about degenerative disk disease, have your condition evaluated and discuss possible treatment options including surgery, schedule an appointment with your doctor. If you need to find an expert who is skilled in treating back problems, use our online Find a Physician service or call us at 1-855-296-6265 for a physician referral.

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