Degenerative Disc Disease is a general term for the condition in which a damaged vertebral disc causes chronic pain – either low back pain (and/or leg pain, sciatica) in the lumbar spine or neck pain (and/or arm pain) in the cervical spine.
Damage to the disc occurs naturally or through a twisting injury where the inner and/or outer portions of the disc may tear, exposing or irritating the nerves on the outer edge of the annulus.
The injury can also create excessive micro-motion instability at the adjacent vertebrae because the disc cannot hold the vertebral segment together as well as it used to.
The disc itself has very few nerve endings and no blood supply. Without a blood supply the disc does not have a way to repair itself, and pain created by the damaged disc can last for years, either as a chronic condition or with periodic painful flare ups. The symptoms are most common in individuals age 30 to 60 years old.