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.

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.

Request an appointment

Our team can help with any enquiries or you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

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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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