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Back Pain from Worn Discs

  • Only 1 in 10 are NOT affectedDegenerative disc disease is so common that it affects about 90% of the population.
  • More prevalent with ageAbout 40% of those over 40 have at least one degenerated disc. At age 80, about 80% do.
  • Limits mobilityDegenerative discs often cause pain when bending, twisting, or standing for too long.

The spinal column is composed of 33 vertebrae separated by rubbery fibrous discs with a core of cartilage. These discs cushion the spine, allowing it to bend and flex with body movements. These discs undergo changes with aging. They may thin, dry out, or crack, or the softer cartilage core may begin to bulge out and cause pressure on the spinal canal.


Although the degeneration that comes with aging is normal, it is not recognized as degenerative disc disease unless it causes pain or other symptoms.

Symptoms of degenerative disc disease may include:

Sharp and severe but temporary back or neck pain.
Chronic back or neck pain that lasts for more than a month
Difficulty bending over, turning or twisting your spine or neck
Pain from standing or sitting for a period of time
Painful muscle spasms (cramps)

Treating Degenerative Discs

Although degenerative disc disease is caused by natural aging processes for which there is no cure, treatment of symptoms and associated conditions can substantially improve a patient’s mobility and quality of life.

Saville Spine Institute may recommend any or all of the following treatments to patients:

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to some of the most common questions patients ask about degenerative disc disease

  • What are the risk factors for degenerative disc disease?

    Degenerative disc disease is considered to be a natural part of the aging process. The discs that cushion vertebrae will flatten, bulge, or break down over time at different rates depending upon genetics, as well as use and other environmental factors.

  • How is degenerative disc disease diagnosed?

    Degenerative disc disease is common enough to be revealed by its symptoms, which include neck or back pain, spasms, and limited mobility. However, it will need to be confirmed by imaging – X-rays, MRIs, or CAT scans – in order to rule out other possible root causes.

  • Is there a cure for degenerative disc disease?

    No. Just as there is no cure for aging. Disc degeneration is recognized as a natural physiological process that occurs in about 90% of individuals over the age of 60. It is considered a disease when accompanied by pain or impairment.

  • Can surgery remedy degenerative disc disease?

    Sometimes. Not all discs degenerate at the same rate, which may allow badly worn discs to be surgically replaced. However, there are 33 vertebrae in the spinal column, with a vertebral disc separating each one. The more discs that are damaged, the lower the chances of replacement surgery being an option.