This can occur in people as young as 20 years of age, but more usually is part and parcel of the wear-and-tear of normal aging of the spine, as the spongy pads (intervertebral discs) between the vertebra lose their flexibility, elasticity and ability to absorb shocks. People with DDD generally have ongoing back or neck pain, with occasional flares of acute pain when their ‘back goes out’. DDD can affect any part of the spine, with pain usually occurring where disc deterioration occurs. Pain may increase when sitting for long periods, bending, twisting or lifting and reduce during walking, running or lying down.
Treatment may be indicated if pain becomes disabling or leads to leg weakness, numbness or tingling and loss of bowel or bladder control.
© St. Joseph's Hospital 2019