What Is a Degenerative Disc vs a Herniated Disc?


Asked by BlooMustang

What Is the Difference Between a Herniated Disc and a Degenerative Disc/Desiccated Disc?

Also are both symptoms treated the same way?


A degenerated disc is an aging disc that is dried and cracking. A herniated disc does not necessarily have to be older/degenerated, but it is bulging beyond its normal boundries.

Normally, a degenerated disc is asymptomatic, just like aging skin is painless. A disc becomes painful if there is a tear or a herniation. Disc pain is primarily triggered by pressure. Bending over at the waist or coughing are examples that increase disc pressure and pain. Unloading the disc (depressurizing the disc) with a zero gravity chair or tractioning are great ways to relieve disc pain.

Discs have trouble healing themselves, so good health is required like good nutrition and not smoking. In fact, smoking is probably the single biggest cause of chronic pain. Staying healthy and managing disc pressures are the best treatments for disc pain.

Dr. Christina Lasich, MD

You should know: The answer above provides general health information that is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment recommendations from a qualified healthcare professional.