If you have degenerative disc disease in your neck (or the cervical region of the spine), you should know that the condition is a fairly common cause of neck pain. It is characterized by the dehydration and weakening of your intervertebral discs over time and the normal wear and tear process. Although many individuals aren’t aware of it, most people in their 50s and 60s will have some evidence of disc degeneration, but this does not mean they will be diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. The condition also can affect patients in their 20s and 30s if other factors lead to the early deterioration of the discs.
Causative Factors of Cervical Degeneration
Besides aging and the natural process of wear and tear, the following instances can lead to early onset cervical degenerative disc disease in your neck:
- Traumatic injury – If your neck has sustained a forceful blow or another injury, such as whiplash, the upper spine can become more susceptible to degenerative changes or damage to the discs.
- Poor posture – Forward head posture (when the head is held forward past the shoulders instead of upright) can place unnecessary stress on your discs, ligaments, and other soft tissues in the cervical spine. The added stress can cause premature degeneration.
- Genetics – If your family has a history of spinal conditions, you may be genetically predisposed to degenerative disc disease in your neck and back.
Aging and genetics are factors that simply cannot be eliminated when it comes to preventing degenerative disc disease. However, you can take certain steps to avoid early onset of the condition. For example, you can limit instances where your neck or head will be subjected to blunt force, such as high-impact sports. Additionally, you can maintain proper posture while standing, sitting, and even sleeping, which will help to keep your neck and back aligned and reduce added pressure placed on your spine. Doing everything possible to ensure spine health today can help you avoid a number of degenerative spinal conditions in the future.