Low back pain (LBP) is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, with a significant socioeconomic burden on healthcare systems. It is mainly caused by degenerative disc disease (DDD), a progressive, chronic, and age-related process. With its capacity to accurately characterize intervertebral disc (IVD) and spinal morphology, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been established as one of the most valuable tools in diagnosing DDD. However, existing technology cannot detect subtle changes in IVD tissue composition and cell metabolism. In this review, we summarized the state of the art regarding innovative quantitative MRI modalities that have shown the capacity to discriminate and quantify changes in matrix composition and integrity, as well as biomechanical changes in the early stages of DDD. Validation and implementation of this new technology in the clinical setting will allow for an early diagnosis of DDD and ideally guide conservative and regenerative treatments that may prevent the progression of the degenerative process rather than intervene at the latest stages of the disease.