Degenerative disc disease causes and risk factors

While most degenerative disc disease causes can be attributed to the natural aging process, there are certain things an individual can do to limit the risk for developing the condition.

Degenerative disc disease is a spinal condition that involves the gradual deterioration of the discs, which are found between vertebrae and act as shock absorbers to allow the vertebrae to bend and pivot without touching each other.

Because this condition is largely caused by the natural aging process of the spine, certain lifestyle changes can make individuals less susceptible to developing a degenerative disc disease. By understanding what contributes to the breakdown of a spinal disc, you can focus on how to avoid these risk factors and increase the health of your spine.

Preventative measures for a degenerative disc

In order to maintain good spine health and help prevent the development of degenerative disc disease, you should make an effort to avoid the following:

  • Being overweight — Carrying excess body weight forces the spine to work extra hard to support everyday movements like sitting, standing and walking. Shedding excess pounds can remove some of the strain from the discs and reduce the likelihood for developing degenerative disc disease.
  • Using tobacco products and abusing alcohol — These unhealthy habits deprive the body of an optimal level of hydration and can prevent the absorption of essential nutrients. Quitting smoking, and drinking in moderation, can help to keep the spine — and the entire body — healthy.
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle — A lack of exercise can cause the muscles and ligaments in the neck and back to become lax, which may require the discs to work extra hard to absorb impact and support movement.

While maintaining a healthy lifestyle won’t guarantee that you do not develop a degenerative disc disease, it does increase your chance of preventing or postponing any damage to your spine caused by age.

When treatment is needed

If you do develop degenerative disc disease, which can cause pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness, several noninvasive treatments are available. These treatments include physical therapy, pain medication and other nonsurgical options to reduce your pain and symptoms.

If several weeks or months of these conservative treatments prove ineffective, you may want to pursue a minimally invasive procedure from Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive discectomy and stabilization surgery helps relieve the pain of a degenerative disc by removing the disc from the pinched nerve that is causing the symptoms. This can be done through a minimally invasive decompression surgery that removes a small portion of the damaged disc or through a stabilization surgery that simply replaces the disc with an artificial one to maintain support for the spine.

Contact us to learn about our effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery.