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At what age does degenerative disc disease typically start?

As we get older, our bodies begin to wear down as a result of natural changes caused by aging. This can result in a wide array of conditions, including degenerative disc disease, which is the breakdown of the discs in the spinal column. Degenerative disc disease results from loss of water and protein content in the discs, causing them to thin out and become less elastic. These changes happen to everyone to some degree or another and are not necessarily painful, although symptoms can be debilitating if they do develop.

Whether you have been diagnosed with this condition or you are trying to prevent it, you may be wondering at what age degenerative disc disease typically develops in patients. Although it is an age-related condition, degenerative disc disease can develop among people with a wide range of ages. In fact, some patients develop degenerative disc disease as young as their 20s and most people have developed some degree of spinal disc deterioration by the time they are 60. It is difficult to pinpoint a typical age for degenerative disc disease since there are so many factors that contribute to it, but one study points to a sharp increase in disc degeneration after the age of 50.

Factors that can affect degenerative disc disease

For people trying to treat degenerative disc disease or those who are concerned about it developing, it can be helpful to understand some of the risk factors and contributors for this condition. While there is no way to reverse the natural aging process, there are steps anyone can take to promote a healthy spine.

Other than aging, the following can all play a role in the development of degenerative disc disease:

  • Genetics, or family history of spine problems
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Jobs that require repetitive bending or twisting
  • Playing high-impact sports like football or gymnastics
  • Smoking or using other tobacco products
  • Poor posture while standing, walking or sitting
  • An overly sedentary lifestyle

To give yourself the best chance of maintaining healthy discs and postpone the development of degenerative disc disease, patients should stay active, practice good posture, eat a healthy diet and avoid tobacco products.

Degenerative disc disease treatment

Even if degenerative disc disease does develop and cause symptoms, this condition can very often be managed with nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, epidural steroid injections and massage. If you are a patient considering spine surgery after fully exhausting conservative options, reach out to the caring and dedicated team at USA Spine Care. We’re proud to have helped thousands of patients find relief from conditions such as degenerative disc disease since 2005.

Ask for your free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.

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