Disc degeneration can lead to pain, nerve root or spinal cord irritation, stenosis and restricted mobility and can occur one of two ways. We have primary disc degeneration which is just normal wear and tear, also known as primary osteoarthritis. The other is secondary disc degeneration or secondary osteoarthritis which is accelerated primary due to an injury.
Diagnosis is clued in on history, but really confirmed by x-ray examination. The space the disc occupies will be reduced and many times will be accompanied by misalignment, roughening of the borders of the vertebrae and bone spurs (calcium deposits).
Disc degeneration can be secondary to a bulge or disc herniation where the discs pump mechanism has failed. In this case the only treatment I know that can effectively restore the discs pump mechanism and allow it to regain its health is spinal decompression.
In the absence of disc herniation and loss of the pump mechanism, the best approach for treatment is to try and restore normal joint mobility and stabilize the surrounding muscles and ligaments. Doing so will slow the progression of arthritis in the low back.