Three rare degenerative disc disease causes
As the name of the condition suggests, degenerative disc disease involves the gradual degeneration of the spinal discs. In most cases, this degeneration is the result of the normal aging process. As the body gets older, it’s normal for the bones — including those in the spine — to become drier and more brittle, which can, in turn, make them more prone to further damage. Less commonly, however, this process can also be triggered or accelerated by non-age-related causes, three of which are outlined below.
Uncommon cause one: sports injuries
High-impact sports place a great deal of stress on the body. Those in which high-speed collisions are common, such as football, lacrosse and hockey, are especially capable of triggering the degenerative disc disease process.
Uncommon cause two: automobile accidents
While car crashes are more commonly associated with whiplash, a condition that develops when the body continues moving forward and then jerks back suddenly, leading to pain the neck or back, they are also capable of triggering degenerative changes in the spine. The trauma of the sudden impact can also make degenerated discs that are already damage-prone more likely to crack or herniate.
Uncommon cause three: tobacco use
To be clear, smoking does not directly cause degenerative disc disease. However, smoking does interfere with circulation, which means that the spine is less likely to get the oxygen and other nutrients that it needs to repair ongoing degeneration. Smoking also reduces bone density, which can make the spine more prone to damage.
While avoiding tobacco, driving carefully and choosing low-impact exercises instead of more strenuous ones can help people lower their risk of spinal degeneration, it still remains a fact that the majority of cases are related to the normal aging process, and therefore, deterioration is not entirely preventable. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and using conservative treatments, such as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and exercises, are often enough to help keep the symptoms of degenerative disc disease under control.
However, if spinal degeneration leads to persistent pain that doesn’t improve with nonsurgical treatment, surgery might become a consideration. At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive outpatient procedures for degenerative disc disease. Our board-certified surgeons+ have helped thousands of patients reclaim their lives from chronic pain. To find out if you’re a candidate, contact us today.