Degerative Disc Disease
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Disc problems such as herniations are usually associated with leg pain and symptoms. However, in degenerative disc disease, the patients usually complain of low back pain as the main symptom that they have.

When you look closely at the discs, you notice that the L5/S1 disc [white arrow] is dark compared to the rest of the discs which are more whitish in color. The dark disc is considered degenerated and has lost its "normal fluid".

Degenerative disc disease is controversial. Many asymptomatic individuals above the age of 25 have "black discs" that do not cause any problems. As such, its difficult to blame a black disc for back pain in some whereas others have no problems with it. Discography is commonly used to try to identify discs which are "painful'; again, discography is also controversial as normal, asymptomatic people may have painful discs on discography.

Nevertheless, if the symptoms are not resolving/improving with time, physical therapy is a good option with minimal risks. Injections tend not to be as helpful in this type of problem.

For patients that can absolutely not live with their pain, surgical fusion may be an option.

The information contained above is intended for general reference purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice or a medical exam. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment. No health information on Spine Specialty Institute, including information about herbal therapies and other dietary supplements, is regulated or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and therefore the information should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease without the supervision of a medical doctor.