What are Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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The most common degenerative disc disease symptoms include pain in neck or the back. Other areas of the body may be affected as well, though these areas may not always be painful. For example, degenerative disc disease symptoms may include tingling or numbness in an individual’s legs or arms. Sometimes the tingling is accompanied by pain; other times, it is not. It usually begins to affect people in their 30s and 40s, and may or may not worsen with age.

The name degenerative disc disease is really a misnomer. It is not actually a disease, and it often does not get progressively worse over time; in fact, it sometimes improves. Degenerative disc disease is a medical term used to describe what happens to the discs of the spine as a person ages. The discs separate the vertebrae of the spine and work as the spine’s shock absorbers, letting it twist and bend with movement. Although degenerative disc disease usually affects the spine, it typically affects the neck and lower back as well.


There are some common degenerative disc disease symptoms that are rather typical for most people affected by the condition. For example, if a healthy 30- or 40-year-old individual has degenerative disc disease, the pain should not be severe or continuous. If it is extreme and never lets up, then the patient’s doctor may want to consider other medical diagnoses. Since the condition is usually related to physical activity, the flare up of pain often occurs after periods of physical activity. After the flare up, the pain will typically either go back to a low level pain or entirely disappear.

One of the problems with the condition is that the degenerative disc disease symptoms vary for each person. For example, some people will have a high level of pain after any physical exercise, while other people will experience no pain at all. Generally, degenerative disc disease symptoms are usually felt in the back or neck, but some people with the condition only have pain in an arm, leg, or buttock.

There are some less common degenerative disc disease symptoms. For example, lower back pains are sometimes more severe after periods of sitting down. In addition, people affected with the condition may notice that walking or running may feel better than sitting or standing for long periods of time. Most people with the condition will feel better if they can change their position from time to time as well. Also, certain movements, such as twisting, bending, or lifting may cause the condition to flare up.


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Post 4

When I was younger I never gave much thought to the way I moved. If something needed to be picked up and moved, I just bent down and took care of it.

Now that I am older, my back and spine give me problems. Sometimes I even have some numbness, but this usually happens after I have been standing on my feet for a long period of time.

My treatment for degenerative disc disease depends on how much pain I am having. Usually some pain relievers and a hot pack helps relieve my symptoms.

Since I know this is caused by doing something I shouldn't have, the best thing I can do is rest and baby it along for awhile.

Post 3

I started having cervical degenerative disc disease symptoms in my 40's. This mostly affects my back and neck.

At first I thought I was just sleeping on my neck wrong, but after having some x-rays done, it showed that I had degenerative disc disease. It was a relief to know this was something that didn't have to get progressively worse as I got older.

Post 2

@John57-- I have also been told that sitting with your legs crossed is hard on your spine alignment. I don't have daily pain in my back, but sure notice when I do too much.

We recently moved to a new house and did most of the moving ourselves. My back was really hurting me after all that work I am not used to.

When the pain started going from my back down my legs, I knew it was time to take a break. A long soak in a hot tub helped me relax and I didn't do much for a couple weeks after that.

My back can be pretty forgiving, up to a point, but when I start having a lot of aches and pain, it is telling me to take it easy for awhile.

Post 1

I always thought degenerative disc disease was something that progressed as you got older. That was encouraging to know that is not always the case, and that sometimes it can even get better.

I have some spine degenerative disc disease which I thought was just from the aging process. I see a chiropractor once a month for treatments and this has been helping with my symptoms.

I am also much more aware of how I twist, bend, sit and stand. My chiropractor told me not to sit with my legs crossed, which is a very bad habit I have, and is hard to break.

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