Degenerative disc disease is a chronic pain condition that can cause back pain anywhere along the spine. It’s a common condition among older adults because as we age, the fluid in our spinal discs begin to dissipate. These jelly-like discs lie between each vertebra in the spine and are very important for flexibility, mobility, shock absorption, and helping the spine move properly. However, when the discs naturally begin to degenerate, they become less stable and patients are more likely to experience a herniated disc.
When a disc becomes herniated, there’s a lot going on inside of the spine. The soft interior of the disc protrudes out of the cracked, tough exterior, putting a lot of pressure on the surrounding areas. Patients will typically experience symptoms if the disc material is pressing into a nerve, and these symptoms can include pain, weakness, and numbness down the arms and legs depending on where in the spine the herniated disc is located. However, even though people with degenerative disc disease are more likely to have a herniated disc, it is not a guaranteed diagnosis. While a herniated disc may sometimes be unavoidable, there are certainly some preventative measures to reduce the risk of injury.
One of the number one ways people injure their discs is through lifting heavy objects incorrectly and putting too much pressure on the low back. To lift objects or weights properly, it’s important to stand with feet apart and bend the knees and hips, firmly grasping the object. Then, in one steady motion, lift with your legs by rising up and straightening your knees. Always keep the back as straight as possible and never twist while lifting. This tip is not just for those doing weight training; it can be helpful for anyone.
Exercise is important for two reasons. The first is that it helps maintain a healthy weight. Obesity and excessive weight have been known to lead to disc herniation because the spinal discs are no longer able to support the weight. Keeping within a healthy weight range can help prevent herniated discs and keep patients healthy. Secondly, exercise helps to build back muscles around the spine. So even though the spinal discs are more likely to become herniated as we age, exercise may help give the discs the support they need to hold up the spine with less of a risk of injury.
If you suffer from chronic pain due to any condition or injury, find hope at The Pain Center of Arizona! Our dedicated team of board certified pain management physicians will work with you to treat your pain, increase your functionality and quality of life, and get you back into life! We have locations across Arizona, including the Phoenix metropolitan, Northern and Southern areas! We take multiple insurance plans; click here to see if we take yours! To make an appointment and take the first step toward getting back into life, call us today at 1-888-PAINCENTER. We hope to see you soon!
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.