Moderate disc desiccation is another term for degenerative disc disease. The term is term used to describe the disc dehydration that occurs with the condition, according to UCLA Health.
Disc desiccation occurs when the disc's nucleus, which is found in the gel-like cushion between each vertebra in the spine, loses its ability to retain moisture, according to The Back Pain Authority. This cushioning is called the annulus, and it acts as a shock absorber for the spine, Spine Universe notes.
When a disc degenerates, it dries out and shrinks, causing the padding to become thinner and the vertebrae to move closer together, The Back Pain Authority explains. A moderate disc desiccation refers to the outer layer of the annulus having deteriorated and dried out as a result of damage from trauma or aging.
Desiccation of disks is a normal progression in the body. Most people have at least one degenerated disc by the time they reach 30 years of age. Although back pain is frequently attributed to it, it's unlikely that desiccation causes symptoms in most cases, because discs lack the ability to feel pain. However, some theorize that the discs' end plates might have small nerve endings capable of producing pain.