Degenerative changes of the intervertebral disc occur as a natural part of
aging. What the initiating events are, what influences progression, and to
what degree the degenerative process by itself is a source of pain remain
unclear. From a clinical perspective, disc degeneration is considered one
cause of chronic pain. Disc degeneration is also the source of important
secondary clinical problems such as disc herniations, spinal stenosis, and
degenerative spondylolisthesis.In September 2005, a group of clinical, basic-science, and biomechanics
experts gathered for a workshop on degenerative disc disease. The workshop was
sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the National
Institutes of Health, the Orthopaedic Research Society, and private industry.
The presentations from the workshop, along with a research agenda outlined at
the sessions, are published in the supplement to the current issue of The
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. This article is a condensed report of
the workshop. All references appear in the supplement.