Degenerative Disc Disease

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a condition that affects the intervertebral discs in the spine. These discs act as cushions between the vertebrae and allow for flexibility and movement in the spine. DDD can occur in any part of the spine but is most common in the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) regions.

Disc Desiccation

Disc desiccation is a common symptom of DDD. It occurs when the intervertebral discs lose their water content, making them less pliable and more prone to damage. Disc desiccation can cause pain and stiffness in the affected area, as well as a reduced range of motion.

Causes of Disc Desiccation

Disc desiccation can be caused by a number of factors, including aging, injury, and poor posture. As we age, the water content in our intervertebral discs naturally decreases, making them more susceptible to damage. Injuries, such as a herniated disc, can also cause disc desiccation. Poor posture, such as slouching or hunching over a computer, can put extra pressure on the intervertebral discs, causing them to lose their water content.

Intervertebral Discs

The intervertebral discs are the cushions that sit between each vertebra in the spine. They are made up of a tough outer layer (the annulus fibrosus) and a soft, jelly-like center (the nucleus pulposus). The intervertebral discs help to absorb shock and provide flexibility in the spine.

Changes in Intervertebral Discs with DDD

In DDD, the intervertebral discs may become thinner and less pliable. This can cause the vertebrae to rub against each other, leading to pain, stiffness, and a reduced range of motion. In severe cases, the intervertebral discs may herniate, which can put pressure on the nerves in the spine and cause radiating pain.

Things to Avoid with Degenerative Disc Disease

There are several things that people with DDD should avoid in order to prevent further damage to the intervertebral discs and reduce pain and discomfort.

Avoid Sitting for Prolonged Periods

Sitting for long periods of time can put extra pressure on the intervertebral discs, causing them to lose their water content and become more prone to damage. People with DDD should take frequent breaks from sitting and try to stand or walk around for a few minutes every hour.

Avoid Heavy Lifting

Lifting heavy objects can put a lot of strain on the intervertebral discs, especially if the lifting is done improperly. People with DDD should avoid lifting heavy objects and should use proper lifting techniques if lifting is necessary.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking has been linked to increased disc degeneration and can make the symptoms of DDD worse. People with DDD should quit smoking or avoid smoking altogether.

Avoid High-Impact Exercise

High-impact exercises, such as running and jumping, can put extra strain on the intervertebral discs and should be avoided by people with DDD. Low-impact exercises, such as swimming and yoga, are generally safer for people with DDD.

Avoid Poor Posture

Poor posture can put extra pressure on the intervertebral discs and should be avoided by people with DDD. People with DDD should try to maintain good posture throughout the day, avoiding slouching or hunching over. They should also use ergonomically designed chairs and desks if they spend a lot of time sitting.

Treatment Options for Degenerative Disc Disease

While there is no cure for DDD, there are several treatment options available to help manage the symptoms and prevent further damage to the intervertebral discs.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help to strengthen the muscles in the back and abdomen, which can help to support the spine and reduce pain and discomfort. Physical therapists can also teach people with DDD how to properly lift and move to avoid further damage to the intervertebral discs.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is a non-invasive and drug-free treatment option that focuses on the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Chiropractors use a variety of techniques, including spinal manipulation, to alleviate pain and improve function in patients with DDD.


Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can help to reduce pain and inflammation in people with DDD. In more severe cases, prescription medications, such as muscle relaxants and opioids, may be necessary.


Injections of corticosteroids or numbing medications can help to reduce pain and inflammation in people with DDD. These injections are typically administered directly into the affected area of the spine.


Surgery is usually considered a last resort for people with DDD. In some cases, however, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged intervertebral discs or fuse vertebrae together to stabilize the spine.

At Healthquest, we witness our patients go from living with chronic pain to enjoying a pain-free life every day. We see the incredible physical and emotional relief our patients experience as their severe back pain, which they’ve endured for weeks, months or even years, disappears. Our commitment is to restore your quality of life without the need for surgery, injections or medication. 

Don’t settle for short-term solutions. Visit a clinic that specializes in non-surgical back pain treatment techniques to experience lasting relief. Schedule your appointment with Healthquest today and see the real difference it can make.

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*Results may vary from patient to patient.