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Degenerative disc disease

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CERVICAL DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE / LUMBAR DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE



Degenerative disc disease refers to symptoms of back or neck pain caused by wear-and-tear on a spinal disc. In some cases, degenerative disc disease also causes weakness, numbness, and hot, shooting pains in the arms or legs (radicular pain). Degenerative disc disease typically consists of a low-level chronic pain with intermittent episodes of more severe pain.

Painful disc degeneration is common in the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine). These areas of the spine undergo the most motion and stress, and are most susceptible to disc degeneration.

Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease Cervical degenerative disc disease is a common cause of neck pain and radiating arm pain. It develops when one or more of the cushioning discs in the cervical spine starts to break down due to wear and tear.

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Degenerative disc disease in the lumbar spine, or lower back, refers to a syndrome in which a compromised disc causes low back pain. Although there is a slight genetic component to individuals who suffer from DDD, the true cause is probably multifactorial. It could be from simple wear and tear, or may have a traumatic cause. However, it rarely starts from a major trauma such as a car accident. It is most likely due to a low energy injury to the disc that progresses with time.

Bone Spurs (Osteophytes) and Back Pain Many patients are told that they have bone spurs in their back or neck, with the implication that the bone spurs are the cause of their back pain. However, bone spurs in and of themselves are simply an indication that there is degeneration of the spine; the presence of bone spurs does not necessarily mean that they are the actual cause of the patient's back pain.

The term "bone spurs" is really a bit of a misnomer, as the word "spurs" implies that these bony growths are spurring or poking some part of the spinal anatomy and causing pain. However, contrary to this implication, bone spurs are in fact smooth structures that form over a prolonged period of time.

A common cause of bone spurs is Osteoarthritis of the Spine

The medical term for bone spurs is osteophytes, and they represent an enlargement of the normal bony structure. Basically, osteophytes are a radiographic marker of spinal degeneration (aging), which means that they show up on X-rays or MRI scans and are by and large a normal finding as we age. Over the age of 60, bone spurs on the spine are actually quite common.