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Is Degenerative Disc Disease Hereditary?

Many people wonder what degenerative disc disease is. For starters, it’s not technically a disease; it’s a condition in which a damaged disc will start to cause pain. Symptoms of disc degeneration are the result of gradual wear and tear on spinal discs or an acute spinal injury. Disc degeneration is not a common hereditary disease, and it usually stems from the drying out of the disc from sports, other physical activity, or injuries. Disc disease is preventable and is not passed on through genetics. 

What causes disc degeneration 

As you get older, you’re more likely to develop degenerative disc problems. As you age you can experience loss of fluid in the spinal discs, resulting in discs becoming thinner and less flexible. You can also experience cracks or small tears in a disc’s outer layer, which can cause the disc to rupture. If you smoke, you’re more prone to disc degeneration. Excessive lifting, being overweight, or obesity can also result in developing the disorder. If you have conditions such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, or a herniated disc (also known as the bulging of the spinal disc), you may be more prone to developing disc degeneration.

Disc degeneration symptoms 

  • Numbness or tingling in your arms or legs 
  • Pain when you twist, bend, or overstretch the spine

Degenerative disc disease treatment

The good news is that you can get treatment for your degenerative disc issues. These treatments will not heal the condition, but they will help manage the pain or, in some cases, result in an elimination of pain. These are nonsurgical methods that may provide sufficient symptom relief. Your doctor may recommend that you treat disc degeneration with prescribed pain medication, physical therapy, or behavior modifications. 

Degenerative disc treatment is an option if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed. If you’re worried that this is hereditary, fear not; it’s not passed down from generation to generation. If you need help treating degenerative disc disease, please talk with your doctor.

Degenerative disc disease prevention

The best medicine, as they say, is a good dose of prevention. As mentioned above, there are some things you can do to prevent or at least slow the development of degenerative disc disorders. Stay active and exercise regularly. Incorporate stretching exercises such as those associated with yoga in order to keep your back flexible. Practice good posture and body mechanics. If you smoke, work toward quitting. If you are overweight, work on losing the weight to prevent added stress to your spine. As you can see, all of these are things we should all do anyway as part of an overall healthy lifestyle!

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