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Degenerative Disc Disease

What’s Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative Disc

Degenerative disc disease is a painful age-related condition caused by deterioration of an intervertebral disc in your spine. The discs between the bony vertebrae in your spine act as shock absorbers. When these discs break down because of age, the cushioning effect diminishes. With less cushioning between the spinal bones, you experience back pain whenever you move.

Back pain affects your quality of life by limiting your ability to walk, stand and perform daily tasks. Spinal pain is also a leading cause of disability. If you experience nagging back pain, a board certified spine specialist performs an exam, along with imaging tests, to reach a diagnosis. Early diagnosis of degenerative disc disease improves your chances of a full recovery.

At the Premier Brain & Spine spine care center, a team of the most experienced spine specialists in the NYC Metropolitan area practice excellence. These spine surgeons address a wide range of spinal conditions, including degenerative disc disease.


How Does Degenerative Disc Disease Develop?

Degenerative disc disease happens over time unseen and unfelt before it becomes a bother. Your spine is vulnerable to wear and tear. The extent to which you abuse your back determines how fast the cushioning discs deteriorate. Some causes of degenerative disc disease include:

  • Spinal strain and stress. Certain activities — such as lifting things improperly, participating in some contact sports and doing repetitive motions at work — cause back strain and contribute to disc degeneration. These movements and activities stress your spine, causing tiny tears of the vertebral discs.
  • Spinal injuries. A back injury from an accident or sports may damage a disc. As you grow older, the damage often gets worse until you start to feel it.
  • Disc dryness. Your discs contain 80 percent water at birth. With advancing age, they lose water and become less functional. Your discs reach a point when they can’t absorb shock effectively, causing pain with every movement.

If your vertebral discs suffer any damage, the inner jelly-like part, called the nucleus pulposus, leaks. The material irritates the sensitive nerves surrounding the damaged disc, leading to pain. Your spine specialist at your NJ spine center uses the latest diagnostic equipment to diagnose your spine problem. With an accurate diagnosis, your doctor prepares a personalized treatment plan.

Am I Suffering from Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative Disc

Spine degeneration comes with multiple symptoms, which affect your ability to live normally. The symptoms from damaged intervertebral discs often appear between the age of 30 to 40. To get early treatment, look for common symptoms of degenerative disc disease, such as:

  • Back pain. If you notice back pain that worsens when seated, bending, lifting or twisting, get an examination. Sitting puts more load on your lumbar spine, where degenerative disc disease appears most often. Other symptoms of lower back pain include:
    • Pain that starts suddenly and then stops
    • Pain that worsens when you bend, twist or lift something
    • Pain extending to your legs, buttocks, arms and hands
    • Neck or lower back pain
    • Different levels of pain, from mild to severe
    • Pain that gets worse over time
  • Numbness. A herniated or bulging disc from degenerative disc disease affects other parts of your body. For example, you may feel numbness or tingling in your legs.
  • Radiating pain. The pain from your spine sometimes radiates down to your legs and buttocks. The pain lessens when you walk, change position or lie down.
  • Weakness. Another symptom of disc degeneration is weakness, which may spread to your legs.
  • Muscle spasms. Because of instability in your spine, overworked neck or lower back muscles tend to spasm.

When the discs between vertebrae break down, you suffer debilitating pain and weakness. If you experience any of these symptoms, don’t ignore it. Visit a NJ spine center like Premier Brian & Spine for a checkup. With an early diagnosis, you prevent further disc deterioration and start getting relief. Your spine expert uses the latest equipment to perform a variety of advanced spinal procedures, including spine surgery.

Am I at Risk of Degenerative Disc Disease?

With age, everyone experiences gradual spinal disc deterioration. Your normal daily activities — which include walking, working, lifting, running and carrying items — cause wear and tear of your intervertebral discs. Despite this generality, however, some people carry greater risk of degenerative disc disease. Factors that make you more vulnerable to rapid degeneration of your spine include:

  • Genetics. If you have a family history of spine problems, you’re best advised to look out for the symptoms of degenerative disc disease.
  • Certain sports. Some sporting activities put excessive strain on the low back and can cause rapid deterioration of your cushioning discs. Between possible trauma and excessive torque, participating in these sports may cause tears in your vertebral discs.
  • Poor lifting technique. If you’re a gym enthusiast or your job involves a lot of heavy lifting, you may damage your vertebral discs, causing pain and limited mobility.
  • Poor posture. If your job involves prolonged sitting, your lumbar spine experiences a lot of pressure. The strain on the lower spine causes disc damage.

When you consult a spine surgeon at any of the ten locations in New Jersey and New York, you get advice on prevention and management of many spinal conditions. The doctors at this NJ spine center listen to your problem before carrying out extensive diagnostic tests. With an individual treatment plan, you get the most effective treatment for your specific spinal problem, such as degenerative disc disease.

What’s the Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease?

After a firm diagnosis, your NJ doctor chooses the best treatment approach. Degenerative disc disease treatments include:

Your doctor at an advanced spine surgery center like Premier Brain & Spine prepares an individualized treatment plan based on the condition of your spine. A top spine specialist uses the latest treatment approaches for faster recovery and better success rates. After your treatment, you get instructions to maximize your recovery.

Can I Prevent Degenerative Disc Disease?

As you grow older, your spine becomes more prone to wear and tear. While some disc degeneration is normal, you can make some changes in your life to prevent rapid deterioration. These preventive tips include:

      • Avoid smoking
      • Take up exercises
      • Maintain a healthy body weight
      • Use proper lifting techniques
      • Practice proper posture

Your spine doctor can recommend specific techniques to prevent further deterioration of your spinal discs. If you have nagging back pain, contact the spine specialists at this NJ spine center for effective treatment.

Updated on Jul 27, 2022 by Dr. David Wells-Roth (Neurosurgeon) of Premier Brain & Spine

Premier Brain & Spine
10 Parsonage Rd, Suite 208A
Edison, NJ 08837
(732) 258-0190