Degenerative disc disease is a term used to explain the changes that occur in a person’s spinal discs as they age, although some patients may inherit a prematurely aging spine. It commonly occurs in the lumbar spine or cervical spine. Developing degenerative disc disease is a gradual process; the discs can bulge, herniate, or thin. As the space between the vertebrae gets smaller, there is less padding between them, and the spine becomes less stable. The body reacts to this by constructing bony growths called bone spurs (osteophytes). Bone spurs can put pressure on the spinal nerve roots or spinal cord, resulting in pain and affecting nerve function. Patients with degenerative disc disease notice more pain when sitting for a long time, bending, lifting, or twisting.
Tyler Wheeler, M.D., What is Degenerative Disc Disease?, WebMD (Dec. 17, 2017), https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/degenerative-disk-disease-overview#1