Slipped disc causes are associated with aging

A slipped disc is a common term used to describe a herniated disc, and there are a range of causes for this condition. Although there are other factors like injury, weight, posture and genetics, the single biggest underlying cause of slipped discs is the natural aging process.

While aging is something that none of us can avoid, fortunately there are steps that can be taken to both prevent and treat this condition. Educating yourself about slipped discs and the role aging plays in their development can be an important first step in either direction.

What is a slipped disc?

In a healthy spine, the spinal discs cushion the vertebrae and absorb the shock and stress of normal activity. In doing so, they separate adjacent vertebral bodies and provide the flexibility needed for a wide range of movement.

Each disc is made of a gel-like material, called the nucleus pulposus, contained within a firm outer shell, called the annulus fibrosus. The term slipped disc is generally used to describe a condition where the nucleus begins to push through a tear or a weak point in the annulus fibrosus. This is not necessarily painful, with the most debilitating symptoms usually being the result of nerve compression by displaced disc material.

Spinal deterioration and the role of aging

Over time, the discs slowly begin to deteriorate due to the cumulative effects of:

  • Supporting the body’s weight
  • Performing movements such as bending, twisting and lifting
  • Becoming naturally weaker and more dehydrated

Aging causes disc slippage because the discs begin to lose water and protein content over time, making them lose elasticity and become less able to absorb the pressure being placed on them every day. This can lead to the cracks and tears that eventually cause a slipped disc to occur.

Treatment options

When debilitating neck or back pain is attributed to a slipped disc and conservative treatments are unable to provide sufficient relief, Laser Spine Institute may be able to help. Our board-certified+ surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgery that is an alternative to traditional open spine procedures. Our outpatient procedures involve a less than 1-inch incision that spares muscles and has a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open neck or back surgery.

To learn more about our procedures and to find out if you may be a candidate, contact our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today.