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Spinal Conditions: Degenerative Disc Disease in Portland, OR

Degenerative Disc DiseaseDegenerative disc disease is not a disease but rather a medical term used to describe aging and degeneration of discs in the spine. Everyone develops degenerative disc disease as they age, but it happens at different rates in different people. Sometimes degeneration occurs at the same rate throughout all the discs of the spine, however it is more common that certain discs degenerate faster.

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease

Doctors do not have a good understanding of why individual discs degenerate or why certain people have degeneration earlier than others. Genetics likely play a role, some people simply have discs that age and degenerate faster than others. In addition, activity, or load, upon the disc is likely to play a role. People who play football or lift heavy objects repeatedly place more load across their discs and the discs can be expected to degenerate faster than if those activities were not performed.

Degeneration occurs within the disc’s inner cushion (nucleus pulposus), as well as in its outer ring (annulus fibrosis). As we age, the nucleus pulposus loses its water content; this can be seen on MRI as a dark disc. Without water, the disc provides less cushioning between the vertebrae. The annulus, or outer ring of the disc, begins to tear and the disc bulges more as we age. This too can be seen on MRI.

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Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment in Portland

Dr. Gavin Button is a Board-certified orthopedic surgeon who has extensive training and experience in both general orthopedics and spine surgery. Specializing in neck and low back conditions, Dr. Button utilizes innovative medical techniques in the treatment of his patients. To make an appointment, call his Portland office at (503) 234-9861.