The spinal discs are located in between each vertebra and absorb impact in order to prevent damage to the spine. Over time, impact on the spine can cause the spinal discs to wear down, often leading to degenerative disc disease.
Degeneration of the spinal discs is considered a normal part of aging. However, not everyone experiences pain with the degeneration of the discs. When pain does occur with wear and tear on the spinal discs, it’s called degenerative disc disease. This common condition can lead to several uncomfortable symptoms that may affect your ability to perform certain activities.
Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease most commonly occurs in the lumbar spine, which is the lower back, and the cervical spine, which is the neck. These parts of the spine are the most frequently in motion and, as a result, often undergo the most strain.
The most common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:
- Continuous pain in the area of the degenerating disc that periodically becomes more severe and possibly disabling
- Stretches of severe pain that may last anywhere from days to months before improving
- Worsening pain with motions that twist, bend, or place strain on the spine
- Worsening pain when holding positions for prolonged periods, such as standing for a long time
- Lessened pain when changing positions or with specific positions, such as lying down with a pillow beneath the knees to relieve pressure from the spine
- Muscle tension and/or muscle spasms
- Sharp or hot radiating pain
- Those with lumbar disc degeneration commonly feel radiating pain down the back of the leg, in the hips, or in the buttocks
- Those with cervical disc degeneration often feel radiating pain in the hand, arm, or shoulder