Degenerative disc disease refers to the pain that results from wear and tear of the spinal discs. These are like soft washers that stop the vertebrae that make up the spine from rubbing together. They are filled with water inside and have a harder outer crust to stop the liquid from flowing out.
As one ages, there is less water that stays in the soft centre. It can suffer from inflammation. The outer crust can tear letting water escape, so that there is no longer a protective cushion or not as big a protective cushion between the vertebrae. This can be painful and is a condition known as “herniated disc” – “slipped disc,” in common parlance.
Apart from the friction between the vertebrae, if a disc outer crust tears near to a nerve, this will also lead to pain.
Degenerative disc disease tends to feel worse when sitting and better when moving around. It can also feel better through a simple change of position or just by lying down. It can feel worse when bending or lifting things. It tends to come and go, lasting from a few days to a few months. Sometimes there is a numbness or tingling in the arms or legs.