Degenerative disc disease symptoms often include pain in the center of the low back as often the first symptom. Injured employees may notice this in the morning before going to work and then in the evening after work. It can starts to affect workers in their twenties or thirties, but is most common in the fifties or sixties. Pain tends to worsen after heavy physical activity or staying in one posture for a long time. The back may also begin to feel stiff. Resting the back eases pain. At first, symptoms only last a few days.
This type of back pain often comes and goes over the years. Doctors call this recurring back pain. Each time it strikes, the pain may seem worse than the time before. Eventually the pain may spread into the buttocks or thighs, and it may take longer for the pain to subside.
Causes of DDD are wear and tear, although traumatic or single incident accidents or injuries can certainly accelerate the process. Our intervertebral discs change with age, much like our hair turns gray. Conditions such as a major back injury or fracture can affect how the spine works, making the changes happen even faster. Daily wear and tear and certain types of vibration can also speed up degeneration in the spine. In addition, strong evidence suggests that smoking speeds up degeneration of the spine. Scientists have also found links among family members, showing that genetics play a role in how fast these changes occur. Note, under workers compensation law in Wisconsin, neither smoking nor genetic predisposition is a defense to degenerative disc disease, if its proven job duties or a traumatic incident are a causative factor.
First, the nucleus in the center of the disc begins to lose its ability to absorb water. The disc becomes dehydrated. Then the nucleus becomes thick and fibrous, so that it looks much the same as the annulus. As a result, the nucleus isn’t able to absorb shock as well. Routine stress and strain begin to take a toll on the structures of the spine. Tears form around the annulus. The disc weakens. It starts to collapse, and the bones of the spine compress.
This degeneration does not always mean the disc becomes a source of pain. In fact, X-rays and MRI scans show that people with severe disc degeneration don’t always feel pain.
Pain caused by degenerative disc disease is mainly mechanical pain, meaning it comes from the parts of the spine that move during activity: the discs, ligaments, and facet joints. Movement within the weakened structures of the spine causes them to become irritated and painful.
McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin gets workers compensation benefits.