Degenerative disc disease and the neck or back pain that often comes with it is mainly an age-related condition. However, there are many lifestyle factors that can cause the discs in your spine to break down at a faster rate than normal. While some degree of disc degeneration will happen to everyone, the tips outlined in the following article can help keep your back strong and healthy as you get older.
Why degenerative disc disease occurs
Your spine is cushioned by spongy discs designed to act as shock absorbers. Over time, these discs begin to dry out and flatten due to decreased circulation, causing the vertebrae to press against each other. If this compression affects the nerves in your spine, the painful symptoms of degenerative disc disease occur. Although degenerative disc disease is part of natural aging, the following lifestyle factors can greatly speed along the process:
- Obesity — puts unneeded pressure on discs from excess body weight
- Inactivity — exercise, even walking and basic stretching, has numerous benefits, including strengthening supporting muscles and increasing circulation
- Smoking — the nicotine from tobacco accelerates the destruction of discs
- High-impact sports — like football, hockey and basketball increases wear and tear on the spine
- Repetitive activities — like bending or twisting in unnatural angles can be bad for your spine
- Poor posture — like stooping over your desk or slouching while you walk places extra pressure on your discs
Ask for help with your degenerative disc disease
Sometimes, it can be helpful to have someone to talk to about your lifestyle choices and to help you make necessary changes. Always consult a professional or your doctor when making a significant lifestyle change, such as altering your dietary habits or planning to quit smoking. In the event that you experience chronic neck or back pain from degenerative disc disease and have unsuccessfully exhausted several weeks or months of conservative treatment options as prescribed by your doctor, surgery may be recommended.
If this is the case for you, contact USA Spine Care to learn how one of our minimally invasive spine surgeries may be able to help you find relief from your pain and discomfort. Many cases of degenerative disc disease can be treated with our minimally invasive decompression surgery. This procedure is performed through a less than 1-inch incision and simply removes part of the damaged disc to free up the compressed nerve. In more extreme cases, degenerative disc disease might require surgical treatment in the form of full disc removal and spinal fusion.
The minimally invasive stabilization procedures performed by the board-certified+ surgeons at USA Spine Care are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ Instead of cutting through the nearby muscles and installing bulky hardware into the spine, our minimally invasive stabilization surgery removes the damaged disc and replaces it with an artificial disc while not disrupting any surrounding muscles. Reach out to us today for a free MRI review* and find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient degenerative disc disease procedures.