Preventing Degenerative Disc Disease

What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease is a condition where the discs between each vertebra periodically wear down, typically due to the effects of aging. The purpose of these discs is to act as a shock absorber for your spine. This allows you to bend, twist, and maintain flexibility while performing other daily movements. In the event that your discs begin to break down, discomfort will likely follow. Unfortunately, pain can prevent us from completing simple daily tasks that we may have initially taken for granted. If you have degenerative disc disease or suffer from other forms of chronic back pain, contact New York Orthopaedic Spinal Associates. Our spine surgeon on Long Island has been helping patients with back pain for over 16 years.  

Man with hat

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease

  • Drying out of a disc
    • Due to the aging process, our discs gradually dry out and are unable to absorb shocks as well as they did previously.
  • Daily activities
    • Normal actions that we do every day can affect the wear and tear on our discs. Activities such as sports and manual labor may cause tears to develop on the outer core of the disc.
  • Injuries
    • Various injuries may create swelling, soreness, and instability in our discs forcing them to deteriorate rapidly.
    • Once the disc is injured, it’s difficult for it to repair itself due to the lack of natural blood flow to these areas of the body.

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

Depending on where the degenerative disc is located, symptoms will vary. Most commonly, the neck and lower back are where patients endure the most discomfort. Other pain-related symptoms of this condition can include the following:

Pain that –

  • Ranges from slight to severe and even disabling.
  • Spreads from the neck to the arms and hands.
  • Worsens when sitting down.
  • Worsens when performing movements like bending, twisting or lifting.
  • Gets worse when moving around.
  • Comes and goes.
  • Involves numbness and tingling.

Prevention of Degenerative Disc Disease

Although degenerative disc disease is many times an inevitable aspect of aging, there still are many ways you can help yourself prevent it or potentially expedite the process. Our spine surgeon on Long Island recommends the following:

  • Maintain an active lifestyle and incorporate exercise:
    • Exercise as simple as walking daily can sometimes be enough to prevent degenerative disc disease. This allows you to maintain a full range of motion in all of your muscles by promoting blood flow.  
  • Use good form and body mechanics:
    • This can involve using proper form when lifting an object. Remember to avoid using your back as this will put unnecessary strain on it.
    • A good form may also include proper posture, which helps to promote a healthy spine and prevent disc disease.
  • Avoid smoking:
    • Tobacco use has been linked to degenerative disc disease.
  • Be able to reach and maintain an ideal weight:
    • Less weight being carried on the body leads to less pressure being put on bones, joints, and discs.  
    • Studies have indicated that being overweight early in life may potentially lead to the development of degenerative disc disease down the road.   

If you seek a spine surgeon on Long Island, the New York Orthopaedic Spinal Associates are here to help you with your spine-related issues. If you believe you have symptoms of degenerative disc disease, contact us today so we can help treat you and relieve your discomfort.  

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