Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. Also referred to as a herniated disc, DDD typically affects individuals over the age of 30. DDD occurs when the softer part of a spinal disc pushes through the crack of the exterior, causing irritation to nearby nerves and resulting in pain.
Patients suffering from DDD typically have the following symptoms:
- Low back pain that worsens when sitting
- Back pain that worsens with certain activities
- Walking and running may feel better than sitting and standing
- The feeling that changing positions often helps ease and relieve stress on the disc space
Physicians will examine patients who are experiencing symptoms of DDD with a physical exam focusing on the spine and lower extremities. If the doctor detects DDD, an x-ray or MRI may be done.
Treatment for DDD begins with rest and anti-inflammatory medications, followed by physical therapy. Courses of treatment may include:
- Pain medications
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
- Narcotic painkillers
- On occasion, steroid injections may be given Physical therapy for muscle strengthening techniques
- In rare cases a discectomy may be performed