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
  •  Surgery