A true understanding of the degenerative disc disease facts should start off with the most basic of lessons: DDD is not a disease. This vilified spinal condition is merely a normal and completely expected part of the aging process and is virtually universal in every human on this planet (and many animals too).
If every adult over the age of 30 inquired as to whether they have DDD, about 99% would be diagnosed positively. Most patients do not understand the realities of disc degeneration or why the condition has perfectly and unfairly filled the role as a potential cause of pain for decades. The same degenerative processes have been going on in our collective human spines for millennia. It was not until recently that these processes have been implicated in causing the explosion of back and neck pain syndromes which have also only really showed up in great numbers over the past 70 years or so.
This dissertation provides a factual account of DDD that can help diagnosed patients to separate truth from fiction when it comes to their health.
Degenerative disc disease is not inherently painful or harmful in any way. DDD does contribute to the incidence of developing arthritis in the spine, but this condition is also normal, expected and rarely seriously symptomatic.
DDD is also responsible for increasing the likelihood of suffering a herniated disc, due to break down of the outer disc wall structure, called the annulus fibrosus. However, these degeneration-induced herniations are seldom problematic or painful in any way. In fact, many exist for years without being discovered.
Degenerative disc disease sounds like one of the worst possible disorders a person could have, which is part of the reason for the substantial nocebo effect delivered during the diagnostic process. When I was first diagnosed at age 16, I could not believe that my young and healthy body was suffering from a degenerative disease in my spine.
Doctors should use a less psychologically affective diagnostic term, such as disc desiccation, to give the patient a fighting chance at overcoming the nocebo effect imparted during many orthopedic or chiropractic consultations.
Knowledge therapy can be instrumental in treating DDD, not directly, but in terms of helping a person understand the truths of the condition. Simply learning the realities of disc degeneration is enough to ward off many of the psychological effects of the grim sounding diagnosis.
If I knew then what I know now about DDD, I doubt that I would have ever begun that deep dark descent into the realm of chronic back pain which controlled my existence for 18 of what should have been the best years of my young adult life. Luckily, it is never too late to learn and learn I did… I still have no fear of DDD, despite it being severe in most areas of my cervical and lumbar spine. I have more serous structural concerns at this point and I am sure the mindbody contributors are still very active to my own painful expressions, as well.
It is vital to comprehend that if any psychoemotional cause or contributor plays any role at all in your back or neck pain, the diagnosis of DDD will give the syndrome structural credibility and will likely escalate and perpetuate the suffering. This is a basic tenet of mindbody medicine which has been proven time and time again.
Do not be intimidated by DDD. If you are diagnosed, do not be surprised. I have degenerative disc disease, you have it and we all have it to some degree. True, there are cases of advanced degeneration which can, in extremely rare instances, become real problems, but these scenarios do not represent the average 99% of diagnosed people with the condition.
DDD is merely a term which describes structural changes in the intervertebral discs. It does not mean that there is any pain or neurological symptoms necessarily associated with theses changes, now or ever. The more you learn about DDD, the less you will fear it. The less fear you have, the better your chances of overcoming any pain which has likely been mistakenly blamed on the degenerated discs in your spine.