Intervertebral Disc Disease

Cody Hiles


Any disorder with the intervertebral disc. This is usually caused by the degenerative process with aging or taking a forceful impact to the spine which causes the disc to either rupture or slightly slip out of place.

Incident Rate

  • Low back pain is the most frequently reported musculoskeletal problem and the third most frequently reported symptom of any kind. Nearly 20% of all visits to physicians for low back pain involved individuals over age 65.
  • It is estimated that about 18% of the population is having low back pain at any time.
  • Although degenerative disc disease can occur before age 20, it tends to peak in the fourth and fifth decades of life and declines after that.
  • It is thought that discogenic pain from internal disc disruption accounts for the largest proportion of chronic low-back pain.
  • Medicare data from 1991-2002 shows a 132% increase in low back pain patients and a 387% increase in related charges for low back pain.
  • Its lifetime prevalence is 58-84% in the labor force, and is a leading cause in number of working days lost per year in the US (exceeds 100 million).

Body Parts Affected

Intervertebral discs between the vertebrae throughout the whole spine


  • X-Rays
  • MRI
  • Discogram
Cervical Intervertebral Disk Disease Pre-surgery--Southeast Veterinary Neurology

Signs and Symptoms


  • no visual signs that others may see


  • intense pain and/or discomfort throughout the back

What are two ways to diagnose an abnormal condition with the intervertebral discs?



  • Use proper lifting techniques and other body mechanics.

Mild Severity:

  • Physical therapy, exercise and gentle stretching to help relieve pressure on the nerve root.
  • Ice and heat therapy for pain relief.
  • Manipulation (such as chiropractic manipulation)

High Severity:

  • Invasive Surgery
  • Non-invasive treatments should be done for 4-6 weeks to reduce and/or get rid of the pain.
  • Surgery is very rarely unsuccessful and most patients resume their normal daily lives within 2 weeks of surgery. A 2 year follow up is sometimes scheduled in order to see if over time the procedure lasts.
Cervical Intervertebral Disk Disease after surgery--Southeast Veterinary Neurology


Without proper treatment then the condition will most likely continue to get worse until immobility becomes the case.

How long should non-invasive treatments be done for in order to successfully treat pain?

Term Chart

  • Disc/o- referring the the intervertebral discs