Degenerative disc disease happens gradually and is a normal part of aging. Although it is relatively common, its effects usually are not severe enough to need medical attention. However, sometimes degenerative disc disease can cause problems that require treatment.
Degenerative changes in the spine often cause loss of normal structure and/or function. Each movement of the spine can contribute to wear and tear, and, over time, these daily stresses and minor injuries can accumulate without you even being aware or feeling pain. Eventually, the disc begins to degenerate. As the disc space collapses and loses height, stability can be lost and the nerves housed in the spinal canal can become compressed. It is important to remember that disc degeneration is part of the natural process of aging and does not necessarily lead to low back pain.
Bone spurs, sometimes called osteophytes, may begin to form around the disc space. This may be the body’s response to try to stop damaging movement. The spurs can become a problem if they start to grow into the spinal canal and press on nerves or the spinal cord. This condition is called spinal stenosis and, many times, accompanies degenerative disc disease.
For more information about the spine or to make an appointment with a spine specialist, call (502) 629-1234.