In some patients, as the spine ages, an intervertebral disc can degenerate. A degenerated disc can result in deep-seated low back pain that usually becomes worse with prolonged sitting or standing. In addition, bending or axial loading will make the pain worse. In contrast to herniated disc pain, pain from degenerative disc disease tends to cause isolated low back pain without referred pain to the legs.
Degenerated discs are usually treated non-surgically. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can be helpful for managing the pain. Physical therapy can also be helpful for patients as part of the pain management and to stabilize the core muscles that support the spine. Physicians may advise patients to modify activity such as avoiding prolonged periods of sitting. Low impact aerobic activity can both improve symptoms and help patients who would benefit from weight loss. Surgery is only advisable in cases of severe symptoms lasting for more than six months and when all other methods of treatment have been ineffective.