While degenerative disc disease is a condition usually associated with the older population, it is possible for degenerative disc disease to cause chronic back pain in young people as well. Although annular tears, for the most part, develop once we leave our teen years and usually don’t cause pain until we are much older, for some, these annular tears can lead to pain even as teens or in their twenties.
Does Degenerative Disc Disease Affect Young People?
As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, everyone develops annular tears throughout their life, and these annular tears are what is commonly considered “degenerative disc disease”. However, while we all have annular tears, only some of us will experience back pain as a result of them. In addition to this, for some, that pain begins much earlier than it does for others.
A study of young women in their twenties found that 31% of the women enrolled in the study were living with degenerative disc disease that progressively worsened throughout the course of the study.
Another study of patients under 21 years old found that for some, degenerative disc disease does begin earlier than in most. The study showed that 76 of the 1,877 young people included in the study had degenerative disc disease, and 31 were even suffering from radiculopathy as a result of this condition.
So we know that degenerative disc disease does, in fact, affect some young people, but what could be causing it to develop so early in their life?
What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease in Young People?
Chronic low back pain in young people is becoming an increasing problem. Unfortunately, while in the past, back pain in young people wasn’t believed to be a big deal or have any real lasting effects, studies have shown that this isn’t the case.
This makes understanding what is causing this condition in young people even more important so that it can be prevented.
Some common risk factors are believed to be school furniture, the weight of school bags, and strenuous physical activity. Psychological and psychosocial factors may be at play as well.
While it’s understandable how participation in sports or a student’s school bag could affect their spine, the stresses of school and potentially even stress from a young person’s personal life can affect their back pain as well. It’s well known that back pain is a symptom of stress and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression can increase a person’s pain sensitivity, making back pain feel worse.
However, the spinal disc is known to be a source of back pain in young people, because it is annular tears that cause degenerative disc disease pain. Because annular tears are the underlying cause of this condition in young people, young people should also avoid all well known causes of annular tear development, such as any movements that cause compression of the spinal discs or twisting of the spine.
How Young People Can Prevent Degenerative Disc Disease
There are a number of things that can cause annular tears, some of which are out of anyone’s control, but there are a few things you can do to help prevent their development.
Strengthen Your Core
It’s important to exercise and stay active in order to keep your body healthy, including your spine, but focusing on exercises that will strengthen your core muscles will go a long way in protecting your spine. The strong your core muscles are, the more weight they’ll be able to help support, taking some strain off your back and preventing annular tears.
Maintain Good Posture
Not maintaining proper posture, especially for long periods at a time, takes your spine out of its natural alignment. This places increased strain and stress on your spinal discs that can lead to the development of annular tears. Make sure that when sitting for long periods, you have proper ergonomic support and when standing, your posture is correct.
Watch Your Weight
Weight gain causes extra weight to gather in the front part of your body and this, like incorrect posture, takes your spine out of alignment. This places added stress on your spinal discs as well. Participating in some form of regular exercise and watching your diet to avoid weight gain will avoid this.
Be Mindful of Your Lifting Technique
When lifting anything heavy, it’s important that you lift with your legs, not your back, and that you avoiding bending or twisting while holding the heavy object. Incorrectly lifting, whether it’s a heavy box or weights, can damage your spinal discs by placing increased weight on your discs while you move in ways known to be damaging to your discs even when performing normal activities.
If you or a loved are a young person living with chronic neck or back pain caused by degenerative disc disease, the way you deal with your condition will depend on the severity of your pain as well as whatever is determined from consultation with your doctor.
The Discseel® Procedure
The Discseel® Procedure is a non-surgical, minimally invasive treatment known to be able to both seal and heal annular tears, the cause of degenerative disc disease pain, preventing further leaking and providing long-term relief. Using Fibrin, an FDA-approved substance that is used off-label in this procedure, to encourage tissue growth in other parts of the body, the Discseel® Procedure allows spinal disc tissue to grow and heal itself.
If you’re ready to get long-term relief from your back or neck pain with a treatment that won’t limit your mobility, apply for the Discseel® Procedure today and find out if you’re a candidate for this procedure that has helped so many people living with back and neck pain.