Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) of the spine is caused by progressive degeneration of the spinal discs. Spinal discs are soft, compressible discs that separate the interlocking bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine. The discs act as shock absorbers for the spine, allowing it to flex, bend, and twist. Degenerative disc disease can take place throughout the spine, but it most often occurs in the discs in the lower back (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region).
Degenerative disc disease may result in back or neck pain, but this varies from person to person. Many people have no pain, while others with the same amount of disc damage have severe pain that limits their activities. Where the pain occurs depends on the location of the affected disc. An affected disc in the neck area may result in neck or arm pain, while an affected disc in the lower back may result in pain in the back, buttock, or leg. The pain often gets worse with movements such as bending over, reaching up, or twisting.
Often, degenerative disc disease can be successfully treated without surgery. One or a combination of treatments such as physical therapy, chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) and other chiropractic treatments, osteopathic manipulation, anti-inflammatory medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, traction, or spinal injections often provide adequate relief of these troubling symptoms.
Surgery may be recommended if the conservative treatment options do not provide relief within two to three months. If leg or back pain limits normal activity, if there is weakness or numbness in the legs, if it is difficult to walk or stand, or if medication or physical therapy is ineffective, surgery may be necessary, most often spinal fusion. Degenerative disc disease is caused by progressive degeneration of the spinal discs. World over Degenerative disc disease s is one of the main causes of musculoskeletal disorder and Lifetime incidence of DDD is reported to be 60-90% with annual incidence of 5%. Each year, 14.3% of new patient visits to primary care physicians are for DDD, and nearly 13 million physician visits are related to complaints of chronic DDD. Current management of DDD is only for temporary symptomatic relief and neither addresses the cause of disease nor reverses the disease process. Moreover the adverse effects of medication and complication of interventions along with presence of other co-morbidities limit their use.