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Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease


Degeneration of the intervertebral disc is a condition that results from age-related changes to the discs that serve as cushioning between the vertebrae in the spine. As we get older, the discs become drier, worn down, and thinner which make them provide less support in between the vertebrae. The discs have a tough outer later and a soft inside, similar to a jelly donut, and with age the outer layer can tear (annular tear). The soft material can leak out and irritate the nerve roots. The facet joints can become inflamed and even become loose (subluxation) and bone spurs can develop, causing narrowing in the spinal cord (spinal stenosis). Symptoms can include pain in the neck with possible radiation into the arm or shoulder, neck stiffness, and muscle spasms. Treatment options include exercise, physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, pain medication, heat and ice, epidural steroid injections, and surgery.