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Degenerative disc disease (DDD)

Worn spinal disc

Our world-leading spinal specialists treat the pain caused by degenerative disc disease

What is degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is caused by wear-and-tear on a spinal disc in the lower back and neck. The condition usually causes low-level chronic back pain, with episodes of weakness, numbness, and shooting pains in the arms or legs.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of degenerative disc disease? icon plus

    DDD happens when the discs between our vertebrae age over time, losing their flexibility, elasticity and ability to absorb shocks. It can affect any part of the spine but often starts in the areas of the spine we use the most — the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine). DDD can be associated with a dull, continuous pain in the back, or even episodic severe pain lasting a few days to a few weeks.

    Other symptoms include:

    • Increased pain when you move
    • Feeling as though your spine isn't supporting you
    • Sharp pain in the shoulder, arm or hand or the hips, buttocks or leg
    • Pain when standing too long - muscle spasms.
  • How is DDD diagnosed icon plus

    There are a number of ways to diagnose degenerative disc disease.


    • Physical and subjective examination: your doctor will examine your spine in the first instance and discuss the types of pain you’ve been having.
    • MRI scan: this displays the soft tissues in your spine and can highlight a bulging or worn disc. It can confirm a formal diagnosis of degenerative disc disease in the neck or lower back and help when planning corrective surgery.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    There are a number of ways to diagnose degenerative disc disease.


    • Physical and subjective examination: your doctor will examine your spine in the first instance and discuss the types of pain you’ve been having.
    • MRI scan: this displays the soft tissues in your spine and can highlight a bulging or worn disc. It can confirm a formal diagnosis of degenerative disc disease in the neck or lower back and help when planning corrective surgery

Our spinal consultants

We're proud to work with leading orthopaedic and neurosurgical experts, who specialise in spinal conditions and injuries, and whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.
Consultant in theatres

Our locations

From complex spinal surgery to diagnostic tests and procedures, we provide exceptional back care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

  • The Wellington Hospital

    The Wellington Hospital Spinal Unit

    South Building, Wellington Place

    St John's Wood, London

    NW8 9LE

    Call 020 7483 5148

  • London Bridge Hospital

    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments & Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773

  • The Lister Hospital

    Chelsea Bridge Road

    London

    SW1W 8RH

    Appointments 020 7730 8298
    General enquiries 020 7730 7733

  • The Princess Grace Hospital

    42-52 Nottingham Place

    London W1U 5NY

    Appointments 020 7908 8001
    General enquiries 020 7486 1234

  • The Portland Hospital

    205 - 209 Great Portland Street

    London

    W1W 5AH

    Children's enquiries 020 7390 8020
    Maternity enquiries 020 7390 6068
    Gynaecology enquiries 020 7390 6200

  • The HSC exterior

    The Harley Street Clinic

    35 Weymouth Street

    London  W1G 8BJ

    Appointments 020 7935 7700
    General enquiries 020 7034 8181

  • HCA UK at The Wilmslow Hospital

    52-54 Alderley Road

    Wilmslow

    SK9 1NY

    Appointments 020 7483 5148
    General enquiries 01615 160 961

  • The Wellington Hospital - South Building

    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 020 7483 5148
    General enquiries 020 7586 5959

  • London Bridge Hospital Facility

    HCA UK at The Shard

    The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street

    London

    SE1 9BS

    Call 020 3131 6888
    Opening hours 7:30 - 20:00 Monday - Friday

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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