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Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD)

This is a weakening of one or more vertebral discs, which normally act as a cushion between the vertebrae. This condition can develop as a natural part of the aging process, but it may also result from injury to the back.

Disk Wall Tears: Degenerative disc disease generally begins when small tears appear in the disc wall, call the annulus. These tears can cause pain.

Although tears can heal, the scar tissue that is created is not as strong as the original disc wall. If the back is repeatedly injured, the process of tearing and scarring may continue, weakening the disc wall. Overtime, the nucleus (center) of the disc becomes damaged and loses some of its water content. The center is called the pulposus, and its water content is needed to keep the disc functioning as a shock absorber for the spine.

Collapsed Nucleus: If the nucleus collapses, it becomes unable to act as a cushion. The vertebrae above and below this damaged disk begin to slide closer together. This impropers alignment causes the facet joints-the areas where the vertebral bones touch -to twist into an unnatural position.