Degenerative disc disease is when the cushiony discs between the vertebrae of the spine deteriorate. Without cushioning, the spine experiences additional pressure, causing mild, moderate or severe pain. Learn more about how this condition is diagnosed and treated.

Causes & Triggers

  • Aging
  • Genetics/heredity
  • Injury
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Trauma

Signs & Symptoms

  • Difficulty lifting foot or ankle
  • Numbness
  • Pain:
    • Especially low back, buttocks, thighs, neck
    • Worsens with sitting, bending, lifting, twisting
    • Improves with walking, changing positions, lying down
  • Tingling
  • Weakness

Tips & Treatments

  • Symptoms may be relieved with lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or participating in physician-recommended exercise.
  • Non-surgical treatment may include ice packs, anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy or complementary medicine, such as biofeedback and relaxation techniques.
  • Surgical treatment may be indicated in some cases, so seek the opinion of a well-qualified orthopedic physician.