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Degenerative Disc Disease - Spine Degeneration

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Degenerative Disc Disease is a condition that causes the intervertebral discs in the spine to deteriorate or breakdown.  Intervertebral discs are the shock-absorbing pads located between your vertebrae.  The vertebrae are the series of bones that make up your spine.

Degenerative Disc Disease can occur in any part of the spine.  It develops more frequently in the lower back.  Aging can cause the discs to lose fluid, collapse and sometimes rupture.  This decreases the space between the vertebrae, which is why some people become shorter as they age.  As the disc deteriorates, it affects the structure of the vertebrae.  These changes can lead to conditions that put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.  Most symptoms of pain can be treated non-surgically.  However, surgery is recommended if the spine is unstable or when pain cannot be relieved by other means.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit