The discs between the vertebra are shock absorbers, protecting the spine and keeping it flexible. The wear and tear on those discs is known as degenerative disc disease.

The discs in the spine are made up of a great deal of water, which gives the discs that spongy quality to absorb shock. If the disc is dehydrated, it’s not as resilient. The tissue that holds the disc material in place may tear, which can lead to further damage. For some people genetics also may play a part in degenerative disc disease.


  • Physical exam
  • Blood/urine tests
  • MRI scan
  • X-ray
  • Discography


  • Physical therapy to learn how to manage the back pain
  • Steroid injections for pain relief
  • Surgery may be needed in some cases