Degenerative Disc Disease – Symptoms and Prognosis Needs More Clarity

November 12, 2012

Degenerative Disc Disease – Symptoms and Prognosis Needs More Clarity

If you have low back pain then you may suffer from degenerative disc disease. One of the most frequent reasons for low back pain, this condition can affect many aspects of life. What a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease actually means is still open to some debate within the medical community. This leads to confused or baffled patients who are unsure of the seriousness of their condition and what aspects of their life may be curtailed. Some doctors say that it is neither degenerative nor is it a disease. In fact the pain often gets better over time with this condition however the discs do not heal and may well continue to degenerate, but with no degeneration in quality of life or physical condition. The word disease is also misleading; most doctors accept that this is a condition, not a disease. It is a condition caused through a damaged disc which then generates pain in the lower back region. Degenerative disc disease is quite common in younger adults but again the medical fraternity aren’t too sure on the best course of action or what the prognosis is long term. Generally though it is accepted that the disc is damaged and that is the cause of the pain and disc will not get better. It will always remain damaged and will slowly get worse, however this does not mean the symptoms will worsen.

The actual definition of degenerative disc disease is vague and misunderstood and so diagnosis becomes vague too, as does the implications to the sufferer. Patients want to know how their life will be affected in the future. They want to know how bad things will become, will they become crippled, can they still play their favourite sport or what can they do to increase their chances of minimizing the effect of degenerative disc disease.

All of these questions are valid but perhaps the answers still depend on the doctor rather than accepted medical expertise.

The discs in the spine do degenerate with time, pretty much everything in the human body degenerates. It’s the rate of degeneration and the symptoms seen throughout the process that matters to most people. Because degenerative disc disease is so diverse in seriousness it is possible to have it and not suffer any symptoms.

Because many doctors disagree on what degenerative disc disease actually means being diagnosed with it is very ‘hit and miss’. And what it actually means to the patient suffering and their future is also lacking in clarity. However active debate now occurs within the medical community addressing areas such as diagnosis, clarification as to what constitutes degenerative disc disease and what should be excluded. This can only be positive in the long run and hopefully as more aspects relating to the condition become apparent so will more definitive diagnoses.

Category: Articles