Please let me clarify. Discs degenerate naturally. Disc degeration is normal. Disc degeration is not a disease. Just like the skin wrinkles with age, the disc "wrinkles" too. Disc degeration has been documented to occur in the early adult years as early as the late teens.
Some disc age faster than others and that can be related genetics. But other factors are also very important like disc location, occupation, smoking, nutrition, and health.
The pain is not neccessarily a direct result of the degeneration process because not everyone experiences pain. Joints, ligaments, and nerves are the most sensitive structures in the spine and over time can become painful if the mechanics of the spine are not favorable.
If your family has a tendancy to have multiple joint problems and pain, then you and yours may want to look into the possiblity of an actual hereditary disease like Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.
Please be careful of what you teach your children about the spine and about pain. Teach them that aging is normal and pain is a neccessary part of life that keeps us alive.
Dr. Christina Lasich, MD