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Disc degeneration can happen to anyone. It is an age-related condition and a normal progression that happens over time. In fact, nearly everyone’s discs break down as they age but not everyone will have the symptoms of disc degeneration. Understanding the symptoms and the causes of disc degeneration can help you find relief from your pain.

What Causes Disc Degeneration?

With aging, the cartilage of a spinal disc becomes weak and brittle. They can develop cracks and tears. A disc might even break into fragments.

The gelatin-like substance in the core of the discs may leak through the cracks. This causes the discs to flatten, much like a deflated tire. This makes them less effective in providing cushion. The spine becomes less stable from the loss of padding in between vertebrae.

What Are theSymptoms of Disc Degeneration?

Disc degeneration might not display any symptoms. Sometimes it only causes mild pain. Other times it creates unbearable pain. Common symptoms for disc degeneration include:

  • Damaged discs in the vertebrae of the neck may cause pain that runs to the shoulder. It may travel into the arm and even to the hand.
  • Damage in the lumbar spine, or lower back, can send pain into the buttocks. It may spread into the legs and feet.
  • Intense flare-ups of pain that last for days or weeks.
  • Tingling and numbness occurring with the pain.

If you think you are experiencing the symptoms of disc degeneration, you may need treatment. Find your condition below with our online condition tool.


The goal with treating disc degeneration is to ease the pain while reducing —or stopping completely— more damage to the spine. Based on your symptoms, and the extent of your conditions, the spine experts at Oasis Orthopedic and Spine will determine the best treatment for your specific situation.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Disc Degeneration

  • Pain medication. Take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or prescribed anti-inflammatory medicines.
  • Heat and cold therapy. An ice pack helps reduce inflammation. A heating pad helps increase blood flow.
  • Physical therapy, yoga, tai chi. Gentle stretches and movements can ease back pain.
  • Spinal manipulation. A chiropractor or orthopedic specialist makes adjustments to the spine and surrounding tissue.
  • Injections. A specialist injects a steroid and anesthetic mixture into the spinal joint.

Surgical Treatments for Disc Degeneration

If conservative treatments are not effective, your spine specialist may want you to consider a surgical treatment. Most disc degeneration treatments can be performed with a minimally invasive procedure, such as:

If you think surgical treatment might be the answer to your disc degeneration pain, we can help. Find out what treatment is right for you with our treatment finder tool below.

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