Degenerative Disc disease (DDD) is a long-term condition that develops over many years, it is characterised by a reduction in disc height and a reactive change of the joint line. As seen in the picture below. To be clear here, everybody will have degenerative changes at some point in their lives. Recent evidence is showing that from as early as 21 people can have what would be termed degenerative changes on X-ray or MRI (now just because this is “normal” does not make it optimal but that’s a post for a later date) without any pain what so ever. Pain from degenerative changes is only termed DDD when it starts to cause pain.
Although degeneration can be present from a young age, 90% of those with DDD are 65+ this is due a lifetime of mechanical “wear and tear” on the discs and joints but also from around 50 years of age there are collagen changes (the substance that makes up your connective tissues) that result in the tensile strength of the collagen diminishing. Females tend to suffer more than men likely due to hormonal differences, but their may also be a genetic component.
The symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease are: -
- Pain in the lumbar or buttock region, sometimes referring down towards the knee
- Pain often comes and goes and can range from a nagging ache to sharp and severe.
- Pain can last for days to months
- Aggravated by sitting for long periods
- Relieved with general movement especially walking
- Bending is often a problem and can aggravate symptoms
- Lying down can also relieve pain
Andy has been involved in the health & fitness industry for over 10 years, specialising in corrective exercise, injury prevention and rehabilitation of low back, neck and shoulder pain. He also has an interest in the use of Osteopathy for the management of headaches.