We provide Telehealth consultations. Call us today to schedule a virtual visit.
Skip to main content

Am I At Risk for Degenerative Disc Disease?

Are you concerned about the health of your spine and wondering if you might be at risk for degenerative disc disease? This common condition is notorious for causing back pain, so it’s important to understand your risk factors and take proactive steps to maintain a healthy back. 

Below, Dr. John Regan and the team at Spine Group Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills, California, explore the factors that may put you at risk for degenerative disc disease, what you can do to reduce your chances of developing this condition, and what to do if you already have it.

What is degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease is a condition that affects the intervertebral discs in your spine. The discs are made of:

These discs act as cushions between your vertebrae and provide flexibility and shock absorption. 

Over time, they can wear down, lose hydration (particularly the gel-like center), and become less effective at their job of providing shock absorption. This can lead to various symptoms, including chronic back pain, reduced mobility, and sometimes even nerve compression. Nerve compression can cause pain, but it can also cause numbness, tingling, and burning sensations.

Are you at risk for developing degenerative disc disease?

The most common risk factors include:


As you get older, the discs in your spine naturally degenerate. While you can't stop the aging process, you can take steps to minimize its impact on your spine. Stay hydrated, strengthen your core, practice safe lifting techniques, and exercise regularly. 


Your genetic makeup can also play a role in your risk for degenerative disc disease. If you have a family history of spine problems, you may be more susceptible. Be sure to inform Dr. Regan of your family history so that he can create a tailored prevention plan.

Occupation and lifestyle

Certain occupations and lifestyles can increase your risk of spine issues, especially degenerative disc disorder. If your job involves heavy lifting, repetitive movements, or prolonged sitting, you may be at a higher risk. Similarly, smoking, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to disc degeneration.

Injury and trauma

A history of spinal injuries or trauma can predispose you to degenerative disc disease. Even seemingly minor injuries can accumulate over time and lead to disc degeneration.


Carrying excess weight puts additional stress on your spine and can accelerate disc degeneration. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help reduce this risk.

Reducing your risk

While some risk factors, like aging and genetics, are beyond your control, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of developing degenerative disc disease:

Stay active

Regular exercise, especially activities that strengthen your core and back muscles, can help support your spine. Exercise doesn’t have to be vigorous for you to reap the benefits. Even gentle walking, swimming, and yoga are good for you.

Maintain a healthy weight

If you're overweight, losing excess pounds can alleviate stress on your spine and reduce your risk. Ideally, staying within around 10 pounds of your goal weight can help alleviate weight-related back strain.

Practice good posture

Be mindful of your posture at all times whether you're sitting at a desk, walking, or lifting objects. Proper body mechanics can protect your spine.

Avoid smoking

If you smoke, consider quitting. Smoking reduces blood flow to the discs and hinders their ability to repair and stay healthy. The Kick It California smoking cessation program is free and includes telephone, app, and text support.

Stay hydrated

Staying properly hydrated helps your body function better, and that includes the discs in your back too. Drink plenty of water to keep your intervertebral discs properly hydrated. Aim for at least 64 ounces of water daily.

Seek medical advice for a tailored prevention plan

Understanding the risk factors for degenerative disc disease is the first step in protecting your spine's health, and the second step is to stick with a custom prevention plan. 

If you have a family history of degenerative disc disease or are concerned about your risk factors, talk to Dr. Regan. The Spine Group Beverly Hills team offers guidance and recommends preventive measures as well as treatment options if you already have the warning signs of disc issues. 

If you already have degenerative disc disease

Even with the best prevention plan, it’s impossible to completely reduce your risk. That’s because some risk factors are outside of your control. 

The good news is that degenerative disc disease can be managed. Potential treatments for back pain include lifestyle changes, physical therapy, stretches, medication, and in some cases, surgery to repair compressed nerves or damaged discs.

Questions? Schedule an appointment in our Beverly Hills, California, office by calling 424-238-3281. You can also request an appointment via our online form.

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Medical Conditions That Fuel Back Pain

5 Medical Conditions That Fuel Back Pain

Occasional back pain isn’t uncommon, especially if you sleep in an odd position or have poor posture. However, medical conditions can also cause back pain. Continue reading to learn about five medical conditions that fuel pain.
How to Reduce Your Lingering Neck Pain

How to Reduce Your Lingering Neck Pain

Chronic neck pain can make it hard to sleep, perform daily tasks, or even relax comfortably. Read on to learn strategies for reducing lingering neck pain that you can try at home.
3 Telltale Signs You May Have Spinal Stenosis

3 Telltale Signs You May Have Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a degenerative condition characterized by narrowed spaces in your spinal canal. As your nerves become irritated by the lack of space, it can lead to painful symptoms. Here are three telltale signs you have this condition.
Does Scoliosis Resolve on Its Own?

Does Scoliosis Resolve on Its Own?

Scoliosis is a condition that causes an abnormal curve in your spine. Sometimes it's barely noticeable, and in other cases, it can cause serious complications. In either case, you may wonder if it’ll resolve. Here’s what you need to know.
Is Working from Home a Pain in Your Neck?

Is Working from Home a Pain in Your Neck?

Working from home may be convenient, but is it causing a pain in your neck? It might be! Read on to learn more about home office ergonomics and how to reduce neck pain from poor posture.
Is an Artificial Disc Replacement Right for Me?

Is an Artificial Disc Replacement Right for Me?

If back pain is keeping you from living the life you want, you might wonder if artificial disc replacements are right for you. Continue reading to learn what artificial disc replacements entail and if they’re right for you.