Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common causes of disability in the United States. This condition is a type of arthritis in which wear and tear affect the cartilage of the spine, causing back pain and loss of mobility.
Review the symptoms of DDD and explore treatment options for this debilitating disease.
Signs of spinal arthritis
DDD often progresses for months or even years without symptoms. As the disease advances, individuals often experience pain in the neck that radiates through the shoulders and into the arms and hands. The person may also notice tingling, numbness, weakness or loss of strength in the arms and hands.
If spinal arthritis advances, the nerves in the lower back, hips and legs may also become affected. Some people even experience bladder or bowel incontinence as a result of DDD.
Treatment for spinal arthritis
Some cases of DDD respond to self-care measures like heat and ice application, stretching exercises, and over-the-counter pain medications. When these treatments fail to resolve the symptoms, the health care provider may recommend topical, injectable or oral prescription pain medications. Advanced cases of DDD may require spinal surgery to prevent permanent nerve damage.
When a person cannot work for at least a year because of severe spinal arthritis, he or she may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. He or she must submit medical records, imaging studies and other documentation that supports the inability to work because of DDD. For SSDI approval, a person with DDD generally must be unable to stay in the same position for more than two hours or have a limited range of motion.