One of the leading herniated disc causes: aging

The natural aging process is one of the leading herniated disc causes that affects people over the age of 50. In fact, many people will develop some sort of degenerative disc disease, often a herniated or bulging disc, as the spine wears down due to age.

This can be frustrating information to hear because we can’t avoid getting older and it feels as if we are not in control of the condition of our spine. However, there are many different risk factors in addition to age that can increase the likelihood that you may develop a herniated disc, and having a basic understanding of these causes may help you reduce the chance of developing a problem in your neck or back as you grow older.

What is a herniated disc?

In a healthy spine, discs act like the body’s natural shock absorbers. These thick, spongy pads separate vertebrae and give the neck and back the flexibility they require for regular movement. Each disc features a tough outer shell (annulus fibrosus) and gel-like inner material (nucleus pulposus).

A herniated disc refers to a disc that develops a tear in the tough outer layer, which leads to the inner disc fluid seeping into the spinal canal and possibly impacting a nerve root, which causes pain and discomfort.

What does aging have to do with spinal deterioration and a herniated disc?

As we grow older, the discs in the spine naturally begin to deteriorate as a result of:

  • The burden of supporting the majority of the body’s weight
  • The strain of constant bending, lifting, twisting and other movements
  • The normal dehydration of the nucleus pulposus
  • The natural weakening of the disc walls

When you consider all of the changes that occur in the spine over time, it’s no wonder that aging is one of the most common causes of a herniated disc in the neck or back. The pressure of the surrounding vertebrae on a disc, coupled with the natural dehydration of the disc, could easily result in a damaged and herniated disc in the spine.

Treatment for a herniated disc

The problem with herniated discs is that the ruptured disc material sometimes comes in contact with a nearby nerve root or even the spinal cord, which can lead to a number of painful symptoms.

In the event that you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc and traditional, nonsurgical treatments have failed provide pain relief, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive spine procedures as an alternative to traditional open spine surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive discectomy and stabilization surgery to remove a damaged disc (or piece of the damaged disc) and replace it with an artificial disc to relieve pressure on the pinched nerve and still stabilize the spine. If a small amount of the herniated disc is removed, an artificial disc and/or bone grafts may not be necessary to support the spine. Because of our minimally invasive approach, these procedures are safer and effective than traditional open back surgery^ and fusion.

To find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute and ask for a review of your MRI or CT scan.

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