Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a process where the intervertebral discs lose height and hydration. When this occurs, the discs are unable to fulfill their primary functions of cushioning and providing mobility between the vertebrae. Although the exact cause of the disease is unknown, it is thought to be associated with the aging process. Degenerative disc disease may develop at any level of the spine but is most common in the cervical and lower lumbar regions.
The number of patients who told me that they have been diagnosed with (DDD) is astonishing. Patients typically present with neck or back stiffness and pain. Degenerative disc disease is a very scary term, which makes it sounds like a progressive, threatening disease where pain will only get worse. I had patients tell me that they are afraid they will end up wheelchair-bound.
Unfortunately, the name of this condition is very deceiving. To make this clear, degenerative disc diseases is not actually a disease, it is a part of the normal aging of the spine. Anybody over the age of 20 will start showing some changes in their spine. A great study that shows spinal degeneration and abnormalities are common in healthy individuals who are not experiencing any pain or discomfort (Asymptomatic) who has taken (CT Scan or MRI).(Read more).
Diagnosing a patient with degenerative disc disease is like diagnosing somebody with skin wrinkles disease. It happens to all of us – and labeling it as a “disease” gives the impression that these changes are abnormal.
So if it happens to all of us why do some of us have pain and others don’t?
The patient has pain and they are sent for an x-ray/MRI. MRI imaging shows degenerative changes and the patient is diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. The back/neck pain typically has nothing to do with these expected degenerative changes. It is the way the patient moves and the muscles and joints they overuse/underuse during their movement patterns that make the difference.
The research highlighted any imaging must be interpreted in the context of the patient’s clinical condition. We always reinforce to our patients this massage. This helps and they will start to believe this is not going to be a permanent pain and with the right education, exercise program, and modified daily activities they will be pain-free and getting back to their daily lifestyle even stronger. Read More
Feel free to share this with someone who is worry about their back pain / MRI scan.
Dublin Sports Injury Clinic is a Physical Therapy Clinic based in Pearse Street, Dublin 2. We have a high volume of patients who are treated with low back pain. Initially, our treatment will be focusing on helping our patients to get pain free as quickly as possible. We educate our patients to understand the cause of their back pain and how they can stay pain-free. Rehabilitation exercises will be customized for every patient and we show them the correct techniques and progression.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. You can contact us if you would like to book an appointment or get some advice from our therapist.