Why degenerative disc disease in the lower back is so common

While degenerative disc disease can develop at any level of the spine, nowhere is it more common than in the lower back. The lumbar (lower) region of the spine is tasked with supporting the majority of the body’s weight and is also partially responsible for providing the full range of motion that we require from our lower back. This combination of weight burden and mobility takes its toll over the years and can result in the natural deterioration of the parts of the spine, which helps to explain why lower back pain is so prevalent later in life. However, there are steps that can be taken to slow the onset of degenerative disc disease in the back.

Disc deterioration

The lumbar spine is under a constant amount ofpressure. As a result, the spongy discs responsible for cushioning and separating the lumbar vertebrae tend to become gradually worn and weakened over the years. This natural disc deterioration isn’t necessarily problematic, but if herniated disc material or a swollen disc comes in contact with a nerve or the spinal cord, a number of painful symptoms can be experienced.

Risk factors

While the normal aging process is a leading cause of degenerative disc disease in the back, there are otherfactors that can increase the likelihood of the condition developing or can worsen the symptoms associated with the condition. Some of the risk factors for degenerative disc disease are:

  • Obesity — Carrying excess body weight increases the burden placed on the lumbar spine.
  • Poor posture — Improper spinal alignment increases strain on the anatomical components of the lumbar spine.
  • Improper lifting techniques — Lifting incorrectly greatly increases the chance of experiencing a lower back injury.
  • Participation in high-impact sports — Football, hockey, rugby, and other high-impact sports can take their toll on the lumbar spine.
  • Golf — The frequent bending, twisting, and exertion associated with golfing makes degenerative disc disease in the back a common condition for avid golfers.
  • Abusing nicotine — Nicotine can interfere with the discs’ ability to absorb nutrients and stay hydrated.

Treatment

Conservative treatments such as medication, physical therapy, and exercise should always be attempted to treat degenerative disc disease prior to any surgical option. If you are experiencing degenerative disc disease in your back and conservative, non-invasive treatments have proven ineffective, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive, outpatient spine procedures have helped tens of thousands of patients find relief from chronic back pain without the invasive nature of traditional open spine surgery.