(DDD) Degenerative Disc Disease: How to prevent it?

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) also called Disc Disease is a condition in which the structural changes brought about in the discs between the vertebral column can manifest in loss of function & various symptoms.


  • Lower back pain
  • Upper neck pain
  • Pain radiating to the arms & shoulders
  • Tingling in the fingers
  • Pain radiating to the hip joint
  • Pain radiating to the buttocks, thighs or legs
  • Tingling or weakness in the knees
  • Pain can worsen on movements like sitting, lifting, bending, etc.
  • Impact on the quality of life.


  • Facet joint malalignment
  • Arthritis
  • Scoliosis, sideways curve of the spine.
  • Cervical hyperlordosis, inward curving of the cervical vertebral spine.
  • Thoracic hyperkyphosis, excessive convex curvature of the back.
  • Lumbar hyperlordosis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Vertebral foramen stenosis
  • Radiculopathy, pinched nerve.
  • Herniated disc.


  • Intervertebral discs are filled with water & their role is to absorb shocks & provide cushioning to the daily activities that can put stress on the back.
  • In DDD, daily stress & minor injuries can lead to loss of water from these discs.
  • The gradual water loss can lead to narrowing of the gap between the vertebral column & weakening of the shell of the disc.
  • Thus in DDD, along with the drying out of the discs, daily stress & injuries can produce cracks in the discs & eventually lead to leaking of the nucleus material in the disc.
  • This leads to damage to the nerves in the spinal cord & pain.
  • The closing gaps can lead to the joints in the spine to produce bone spurs, which when growing in the spinal canal will cause damage to the spinal root & disruption of function.
  • In women menopause & loss of estrogen is a contributing factor for DDD.
  • Also use of hormonal drugs is a risk factor.
  • Some other risk factors are;
  • Genetics
  • Being involved in sports, combat sports, weight lifting, Olympic sports etc.
  • Lifting of heavy weights & labor.
  • Musculoskeletal diseases.
  • Poor posture & obesity.
  • Smoking.


  1. Physical examination & noting of indicative symptoms like back pain, radiating pain, etc.
  2. X-Ray & MRI for analysis of the damage to the spine & its nerves, to generate images of the spine & to rule out possibility of any other condition.
  3. Histologic examination of the fragments of discs, to rule out any other condition, than DDD.


  • Pain management by using anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin.
  • Epidural steroid injection for relief from symptoms.
  • Glucosamine injection
  • Using a traction to relieve pressure & straightening of the back.
  • Physiotherapy
  • Various surgical procedures like facetectomy, anterior cervical discectomy, laminoplasty, etc.
  • Cell replacement therapy.


  • Back exercises
  • Staying hydrated
  • Not lifting heavy weights
  • Diet that is adequate in calcium.