Degenerative disc disease is a common condition that impacts the spine. It is progressive and occurs when the discs between the vertebrae in your spine wear down. This can cause them to lose their flexibility and ability to be effective in absorbing shock from your movements. This can cause pain and even impact your daily life. Below you will find the risk factors for degenerative disc disease and the available treatment options.
Risk Factors for Degenerative Disc Disease
The exact cause of degenerative disc disease is not completely clear, but it often coincides with the natural aging process. This is because natural aging impacts the vertebrae in your spine. The vertebrae lose their water content which makes them more prone to damage as they become inflexible. The natural wear and tear of daily life can increase your risk for degenerative disc disease. In addition to the aging process, there are factors that can increase your risk for the condition.
Spinal trauma can increase your risk for degenerative disc disease. Car accidents, sports injuries, or even falls can damage the discs in your spine. This will accelerate the degenerative process that can lead to the condition.
Repetitive movements can put unnecessary stress on your spine. This is especially true when it comes to athletes or those with physical jobs. Repetitive twisting, bending, and lifting can impact your spine and increase your risk for degenerative disc disease.
Poor posture can have a serious impact on your spine. This is because it puts extra pressure on your spinal discs. Over time, this can accelerate the degenerative process and increase your risk for the condition.
As with many conditions, your family history can have an impact on your health. Some people are predisposed to developing degenerative disc disease due to genetics. If you have a close family member who has the condition, you are likely at a higher risk for it.
Smoking negatively impacts your health in a number of ways. In fact, it can decrease blood flow to your spinal discs. This can impair healing and increase your risk for degenerative disc disease.
Treating Degenerative Disc Disease
If you experience any of the symptoms of degenerative disc disease it’s important to consult with a medical professional. Common signs you may have the condition include numbness, weakness, pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility. These symptoms often radiate down one of both of your legs and can be chronic or flare-up.
Depending on the severity of the condition, there are multiple degenerative disc disease treatment options. There are conservative treatments that are often beneficial for mild cases. However, severe cases may require more intervention.
Treatment options include occupational or physical therapy, special exercises, medications, lifestyle changes, localized injections, and surgery. The first step in determining if you have the condition is setting up an appointment with a spine surgeon and board-certified neurosurgeon. From there, a treatment plan can be created based on your unique needs.
Maintaining A Healthy Spine
While you cannot entirely prevent degenerative disc disease, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Consider incorporating the following into your daily routine.
- Regular Exercise: Unless your doctor has recommended otherwise, regular exercise is excellent for your health and spine. This is because it can strengthen your back muscles that support your spine. Try to exercise a few days a week for 30 minutes as you begin incorporating it into your routine.
- Good Sleep: Sleep is necessary for your physical and mental health. It can also be beneficial for your spinal health as well. Quality sleep allows your body to repair itself which can be restorative for your spine.
- Address Pain: The worst thing you can do if you have spinal pain is avoid addressing it. Early intervention is key when it comes to health issues, especially your spine. Contact a medical professional if you experience any back pain or other unwanted symptoms.