Home » Spine Conditions » Degenerative Disc Disease » Can degenerative disc disease be cured?
Degenerative disc disease refers to a common spine condition that naturally occurs in almost everyone who lives to age 50 or longer, although it can be accelerated by an injury, poor lifestyle choices or a genetic predisposition to the condition. As a natural condition, it can’t be cured or even totally prevented. However, there are steps you can take to slow the progression of age-related disc deterioration. What’s more, even if you’re already experiencing pain or other debilitating symptoms caused by degenerative disc disease, there are treatments you can pursue to help relieve your symptoms so that you can go about your everyday activities without putting a serious crimp in your lifestyle.
When medical professionals describe degenerative discs, they are usually referring to dehydration of the round components that cushion your vertebrae. Each spinal disc is made up of a tough outer layer that surrounds a moist, gel-like inner material. As time goes on, the natural aging process and everyday wear and tear can cause spinal discs to dry out, and that can make them shrink and also become more susceptible to damage. Generally speaking, there are two primary ways that degenerative discs can lead to debilitating symptoms:
- A disc can break down and encroach on an adjacent spinal nerve. If you’ve been told you have a bulging disc, for example, a portion of the disc’s outer layer has weakened and may be rubbing against the spinal cord or a nearby nerve. If you have a herniated disc, that means the outer layer has ruptured and allowed some of the inner material to escape into the spinal canal, which can also lead to painful nerve compression.
- A shrinking disc may no longer fully protect nerves from other components of the spine. In some cases, a weakened disc may not properly support the vertebrae, thus allowing bone, ligaments, tendons or other tissue to irritate surrounding nerves.
Treatment for degenerative disc disease
One of the best ways to slow the progression of degenerative disc disease and potentially relieve its symptoms is to adjust your lifestyle habits. Healthy weight management can reduce the everyday stress on your spinal discs, and daily exercise that’s approved by your doctor will help improve your circulation and the flexibility of your spine. Improving your posture and making sure you’re lifting heavy objects correctly can also help. Moreover, if you smoke, you’ll want to stop because smoking can accelerate the dehydration of your discs.
If you’ve been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, your doctor has probably outlined a conservative treatment plan that includes stretching exercises and ice/heat therapy. For many people, these nonsurgical remedies and lifestyle changes can provide satisfactory relief from their symptoms. Others may decide they want to pursue surgery as a treatment option.
Degenerative disc disease is one of the numerous spine conditions treated with minimally invasive outpatient surgery at USA Spine Care. Our minimally invasive procedures provide many advantages versus open spine surgery, including a lower risk of complication and shorter recovery times.^
Contact us today to learn more about the procedures our surgeons perform for degenerative disc disease. We’ll also be happy to provide a free MRI review* that can help determine if you’re a candidate for treatment at our facility.
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