Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a fairly common cause (10-percent) of acute LBP (lasting two to four weeks). It is usually a consequence of normal aging or less frequently trauma. In DDD, the normally pliable disc between vertebrae (backbones) loses its elasticity. The disc loses its ability to cushion forces on the spine causing individuals to experience stiffness and LBP. Individuals with DDD have periodic flare-ups of LBP that do not get worse over time.
Most cases of DDD are best treated with non-surgical methods. Pain may be addressed with OTC pain relievers (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen), muscle relaxers, and a short-term prescription (less than two weeks) for narcotic drugs (opioids). Chiropractic manipulation, ultrasound, and massage have also been reported as helpful in the treatment of DDD. Lastly, epidural steroid injections (ESI) and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be helpful for DDD-associated inflammation and pain.