Degenerative disc disease causes
The most common cause of degenerative disc disease is just as the name implies: degeneration.
In this case, the term “degeneration” refers to the natural aging process of the spine. The spine is responsible for supporting the body, allowing movement and bending and giving the body posture. While the spine is made largely of discs, vertebrae and joints, each little piece is vitally important to the overall health of the spine.
For example, the discs are the cushions that allow the vertebrae to move and hinge, which ultimately allows the spine and the body to move. Each disc is made of a tough, elastic outer layer that holds in the gel-like inner disc fluid. As the body bends and twists, the elastic outer layer helps maintain the disc’s proper shape and height to support the spine. This is also true when weight gain adds unnecessary pressure to the discs and vertebrae. Eventually the elasticity in the outer disc layer gives way, causing the disc to lose shape and become damaged.
Other causes of a degenerative disc
While degenerative disc disease represents a disc that slowly deteriorates over time, there can be other factors that progress this condition other than simply age. For example, certain lifestyle choices may make you more susceptible to developing a damaged disc early. Understanding the causes of degenerative disc disease can help you make small changes in your lifestyle to promote a healthier spine and possibly avoid or postpone a degenerative disc condition.
Some tips to maintain overall spine health include:
- Maintain a healthy weight to reduce pressure on the spine.
- Limit alcohol and tobacco use because it dehydrates the discs in the spine and lowers the circulation to the discs.
- Exercise regularly to strengthen the muscles around the spine so they can help support the body’s weight.
- Avoid high-impact activities to prevent the unnecessary jostling of the spine.
Treating degenerative disc disease
While the causes of degenerative disc disease are not always preventable, related symptoms — neck pain, back pain, tingling, muscle weakness, numbness, stiffness and inflammation — typically can be managed using conservative treatment methods. Your physician can recommend a series of conservative treatments after diagnosing your condition and reviewing your medical history. These treatments can include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Pain medication
- Physical therapy
- Water therapy
- Yoga and stretching
Typically, conservative treatment takes several months before any lasting relief is felt. If after several months of treatment you are still experiencing pain, contact the spine care specialists at Laser Spine Institute to ask about our minimally invasive spine surgery for degenerative disc disease.
Our minimally invasive spine surgery offers patients a safer and more effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery, and our procedures are often the clinically appropriate first choice over traditional spine surgery. During our procedure, a small incision is made in the back, through which the surgeon moves the muscles aside to reach the spine. The disc is then removed and replaced with an artificial disc and bone grafts to support the spine while removing pressure from the pinched nerve. Sometimes just a small portion of the spine can be removed through a decompression surgery, making a stabilization surgery unnecessary. For many patients, in fact, a decompression surgery is the most appropriate treatment option for a damaged disc.
To see if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact our team at Laser Spine Institute and request a review of your MRI or CT scan.