Degenerative Bone Disease

Our spine, back and shoulders carry most of our weight and thus experience a lot of wear and tear throughout our lifetime. Unfortunately, that means degenerative disc disease (also known as DDD or degenerative bone disease ) is also a normal part of the average aging process and there isn't much we can do to prevent it. Although DDD can cause a number of painful symptoms, including back pain and shoulder pain, there are some safe and minimally invasive options that can provide you with pain relief and allow you to maintain your healthy and active lifestyle.

Degenerative disc disease is caused by the natural impacts of growing older. In our later years, our spinal discs start to become less flexible, less elastic, and lose their ability to effectively absorb the shocks and impacts of regular exercise. Each invertebral disc is surrounded by special fibers that help keep your spine flexible and well-protected, but as we age, these fibers start to become more brittle and can tear more easily than in our youth. This problem is usually partnered with the shrinking and drying of the center of the disc (nucleus pulposus) which is soft and gel-like and helps to ensure smooth gliding actions in the spine. When these problems occur together with other age-related developments, such as bone spurs and/or the thickening of other ligaments, your chances of experiencing back pain and shoulder pain are greatly increased. These age-related developments can also contribute to degenerative arthritis.

This process is a normal part of aging, to some extent, and will happen to everyone at some point in their lives. However, back pain is not always experienced in everyone with degenerative spine developments. MRI scans have shown even patients who believe they have normal, healthy spines may be suffering from degenerative effects in in their invertebral discs and the spinal canal. Symptoms may vary from patient to patient, and the most effective solution, whether minimally invasive back surgery or another approach, will also vary accordingly.


Back pain and shoulder pain are common responses to normal wear-and-tear or injury in the spine. In most cases, back pain can be treated with enough time and through non-surgical procedures or treatments, but in some more serious cases, you may need to seek professional medical attention.

The Spine, Back and Shoulders

In most patients, degenerative bone disease can be very painful and cause a number of painful symptoms resulting from the compression in the nerve roots. Pain may be experienced in a number of ways, depending on the location of the problematic disc. It may be typical back pain, leg pain, arm pain, or shoulder pain. Over time, the pain may grow into a sore stiffness. These symptoms are due to the degenerative function in the spine and the reduced space for nerves and nerve roots to function.


A physical examination is the first step to diagnosing DDD. Your physician will check you for flexibility in the back, your range of motion, and look for signs that your back may be suffering from degenerative changes. Your reflexes and muscle strength may be tested to make sure they are working properly. Your doctor will ask you to describe the location and type of pain that you are experiencing. After the physical, your doctor will take X-rays to examine your invertabral discs and check for narrowed spaces and bone spurs. In some cases, your doctor will perform an MRI to diagnose the severity of degeneration in the spine.


After your diagnosis, your physician will discuss with you your options for the most appropriate treatment. The first line of treatment typically involves a prescription of physical theraphy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help you manage pain and relieve stiffness. After the first line of therapy has failed to achieve positive results, then your doctor will discuss your surgical options with you. Minimally invasive surgery can help reduce the stress and muscle trauma caused by bone disease, joint disease and disc disease. For more information on "what is degenerative joint disease" please browse through through our website.


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- Gary M., Portland

"I had pervasive and severe pain in my hip that had been battling for years, so my doctor referred me to the Degenerate Spine Clinic. I had such a positive experience. The staff is wonderful and I feel excellent."
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Contact Info

2851 W 82nd Ave, Suite 100
Portland, OR 97266
Appointments: (503) 551-8794
Information: (503) 551-8799
Fax: (503) 551-8755