Essentially, the discs in our spinal columns that cause so many people problems and pain are supposed to serve as padding between the vertebrae in our spines. Most young people’s discs do serve this function without any problems. However, as you get older, your discs begin to degenerate, leaving less padding between your vertebrae.
A spine with degenerated discs is more susceptible to injuries, which can appear as a form of disc degeneration called a herniated disc. Even if a degenerated disc does not become herniated, it can lead to stiffness and pain in the back. This pain is not a direct result of the degeneration of the disc, but rather a side effect caused by the spine’s reduced ability to bend, twist, and absorb shock.
Disc degeneration happens naturally with age. There are many factors that increase the rate of degeneration and the probability that it will begin at an earlier age. Among these factors are smoking, being obese, and working in a job that consistently requires heavy lifting. Typically, the sort of degeneration associated with natural aging causes symptoms that are comparatively mild and manageable.
However, when degeneration occurs at uneven rates in various discs throughout the spinal column, it is known as degenerative disc disease, and more serious symptoms are usually reported. The uneven degeneration causes the spinal column to be misaligned, which can cause pain ranging in frequency from occasional to constant, uncomfortable to intense and debilitating. Often this disease is a result of ignoring milder symptoms for long periods of time.
While it is called a degenerative disease, the word “disease” is actually misleading. Usually “disease” refers to the cause behind the symptom. But in this case, it simply refers to disc degeneration, which is typically a symptom of something else. Degenerative disc disease is not something that can spread to neighboring discs, unless it does so indirectly by causing your posture to get worse.
There are many ways to prevent and slow disc degeneration in your spine. The most important thing is to cease or reduce your consumption of any toxins, like nicotine and alcohol. This will greatly slow the degeneration of your discs and bones. Also, you are what you eat; making sure that your diet provides you with enough of the nutrition you need is very important. And making sure you are not eating too much fat or sugar is also crucial.
Additionally, proper exercise and stretching are very helpful in preventing degenerative disc disease, as well as slowing the degeneration of your discs in general. The key to getting exercise that is good for your spine is to avoid pushing yourself too hard, especially if you are doing exercises that involve bending or twisting the spine or using muscles in the back to support a lot of weight.
It is very important to pay attention, as you get older, to the condition of your spinal discs. Keep in mind that they will degenerate naturally, and that you will be more prone to injury as this degeneration progresses. The need to warm up your muscles and discs before stretching or exercising will become greater with age. Nonetheless, doing so will be good for your spine in the long run.
If you have spinal discs that have already degenerated to the point you may need surgery, be sure and get more informed about laser spinal surgery. Modern technology has made it by far the less invasive and painless back surgery there is available.