Spine Associates - Back to Normal

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)

Degenerative disc disease also referred to as DDD or spinal disc degeneration is not really a disease. It refers to changes in the spinal discs as a result of chronic wear and tear, injury, or natural aging that occurs over a long period of time. They are like grey hairs on the inside of your body. Degenerative disc disease is commonly found in the lumbar (low back) and the cervical (neck) regions of the spine, but may also occur in the thoracic (mid-back) as well. Severe degenerative disc disease can limit your range of motion, as well as cause pain from minor motion that occurs in your spine as the disc no longer performs its job properly. As your intervertebral discs lose water, flexibility, and height, your vertebrae lose their cushion and begin to rub against each other. It is, therefore, very important to identify the symptoms of degenerative disc disease and catch this condition early.

Dr. Francis is a fellowship-trained, board-certified spine surgeon and has extensive experience treating DDD. Spine Associates offers accurate diagnosis and advanced treatment for a variety of spinal conditions. To learn more about treatments for degenerative disc disease, request a consultation in Houston or Beaumont. Or you can call us at 1-713-383-7100 to schedule your appointment.

Disc DegenerationSymptoms


  • Neck stiffness causing mild pain and discomfort.
  • Neck Pain that may radiate through to the shoulders and down the arms.
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the neck, shoulder, and arm.


  • Mild pain in the lower back that may radiate through the hips and into the legs.
  • Moderate to intense pain when carrying heavy objects or while seated.
  • Pain that increases in intensity while bending, lifting, twisting, sneezing, or even coughing.



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Degenerative Disc disease is commonly diagnosed using a three step process which includes taking a detailed history, physical exam and x-rays. If Dr. Francis suspects that degenerative disc disease is what is causing your pain and other symptoms, Dr. Francis may order additional diagnostic testing to confirm his diagnosis. If symptoms are intense and continue for several weeks, it’s likely you need treatment. Dr. Francis is highly experienced in diagnosing degenerative disc disease and other spinal disorders as well as providing both surgical and non-surgical care.


Dr. Francis takes a conservative approach by recommending non-surgical treatments whenever possible. He recommends surgery as a last resort when symptoms do not improve with conservative measures. Treatment options for DDD may include one or a combination of the following: