Facebook Pixel

Are Degenerative Disc Disease and Arthritis the Same Thing?

As people age and the tissue in their spine changes they can develop degenerative disc disease. Arthritis is also a condition which affects the joints and is known to progress with age.  So, are degenerative disc disease and arthritis the same thing?

Are degenerative disc disease and arthritis the same thing?

What’s Degenerative Disc Disease?

Between each bone of the backbone are fluid filled discs that act as “shock abosrbers” for the spine. As we age these sacks become more brittle and dehydrated. This can cause the disc to lose its elasticity, bulge, tear, or become flattened. When this occurs a person is said to have degenerative disc disease.

Interestingly, people can have degenerative disc disease and not know it. In some cases the disc changes don’t lead to any pain or symptoms. Or, in other cases, the individual experiences symptoms but doesn’t relate them to problems with the spine, as was the case with this patient of Dr. Herzog’s.

What Exactly Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is word that’s commonly used but what exactly is it? Arthritis is a broad term used to describe joint pain or a disease of the joint. There are many types and causes of arthritis. For example, arthritis can be caused by inflammation, infection, or normal joint degradation.

Osteoarthritis, one of the most common forms of arthritis, is the term used to describe arthritis resulting from the loss of cartilage in the joint. Without the cartilage present on the ends of the bones, the bones will rub together as the joint moves and cause pain and irritation.

So, Are Degenerative Disc Disease and Arthritis the Same Thing?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) describes changes to the discs in the spinal column. But, as we talked about earlier, many people with DDD will have no pain. Therefore, these individuals would not be said to have arthritis.

However, in other individuals, DDD may cause the intervertebral discs to wear down so significantly that the vertebrae rub together as they move. The resulting pain would be an example of osteoarthritis of the spine.

So, are DDD and arthritis the same? Not really. But they can be related. DDD can cause spinal osteoarthritis in some patients.

The key difference is that degenerative disc disease describes what is happening to the spinal discs. These changes in the discs can then lead to arthritis or radiculopathy such as sciatica or a pinched nerve in the neck.



Degenerative Disc Disease Specialist Near Me

Saratoga Springs, NY

For a degenerative disc disease specialist in Saratoga visit our Saratoga Spine office at 31 Myrtle Street in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Glens Falls, NY

For a degenerative disc disease specialist in Glens Falls visit our Saratoga Spine office at 7 Murray St. Glens Falls, NY.

Plattsburgh, NY

For a degenerative disc disease specialist in Plattsburgh visit our Saratoga Spine office at 16 DeGrandpre Way, Suite 100 Plattsburgh, NY.



  • https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/what-is-arthritis.php
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3606549/


*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery