Degenerative Disc Disorder: Prevention and Treatment

Degenerative Disc Disorder: Prevention and Treatment

Degenerative Disc Disorder


By TGN Editorial Team

Safety is paramount at the Thome Group. Precaution and prevention to avoid any injuries that may cause diseases is always a top priority.

Due to the nature of the work of seafarers, safety and health precautions are always observed. Seafarers are often exposed to hazardous materials and the environment; thus, personal protective equipment (PPE) is mandatory. Aside from this, carrying heavy equipment which puts pressure on muscles often leads to body fatigue, strains, and worse – spinal injuries.

In this issue of seafarers’ corner, we will discuss the Degenerative Disc Disorder—this aims to raise awareness and help seafarers understand it more so it can be prevented from happening.

What is degenerative disc disease?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, Degenerative Disc Disease is when your spinal disks wear down. Spinal disks are rubbery cushions between your vertebrae and act as shock absorbers and help you move, bend and twist comfortably.

When the bones start to rub together, it causes pain and other problems, such as adult scoliosis, herniated disk, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis

How can you get degenerative disc disease?

  • Acute injuries, such as falling
  • Working a physically demanding job.
  • Obesity.
  • Biological sex, with women being more likely to experience symptoms.
  • Vices such as smoking and alcohol

Common causes and symptoms of degenerative disc disease

The most common symptoms of degenerative disc disease are neck pain and back pain that often comes and goes. A person who suffers a symptom can feel numbness and tingling in arms or legs and feel worse when sitting, bending, or lifting an object. The pain can also extend from the arms and hands into the backside and legs. The pain can be moderate to severe and can get worse over
time if left untreated.

Middle-aged to old-aged people often experience disc degeneration due to their age, physique, and accumulation of of physical work over many years.

Cleveland Clinic also points out pain in spinal disks if you have the following:

  • Dry out: Your disks have a soft core that mostly contains water. As you get older, that core naturally loses some water. As a result, disks get thinner and don’t provide as much shock absorption as they used to.
  • Tear or crack: Minor injuries can lead to small cracks in your spinal disks. These tears are often near nerves. Tears can be painful, even when they are minor. If the outer wall of your spinal disk cracks open, your disk may bulge out of place, known as a herniated disk, which may compress a spinal nerve.

Prevention and Treatment:

If you feel recurring pain in your spine or back, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately so they can perform a series of tests. If a person is diagnosed with degenerative disc disorder, they will need the following:

  • Physical therapy: Participating in strengthening and stretching exercises with a trained healthcare provider.
  • Medications: Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxers, or steroids – depending on the prescription recommended by the physician
  • Steroid injections: Injecting a medicine near your spinal nerves, disk, or joints to reduce inflammation and pain – depending on the prescription of the physician
  • Radiofrequency neurotomy: Using electric currents to burn sensory nerves and prevent pain signals from reaching your brain.

Some home remedies can also be helpful, such as:

  • Exercise: Low-impact activity such as walking or swimming can strengthen back muscles and relieve some pain.
  • Hot and cold therapy: Alternating ice packs and heating pads every 10 to 15 minutes up to three to four times per day may reduce soreness and inflammation.
  • Stretching: Gentle yoga and stretching throughout the day may improve posture and relieve tension.