Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: July 29, 2019
No matter what we do, we can’t stop father time. That being said, if we eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise and take care of small problems as they arise, we can help keep our spine healthy long into our wonder years. But which spinal conditions most commonly affect older individuals? In today’s blog, we put the spotlight on four conditions that commonly affect older adults and seniors, and what you can do to prevent and treat them.
Common Spinal Conditions in Seniors
Here’s a look at four spinal conditions that typically affect an older group of patients, and what you can do to ward off these problems as you age.
- Degenerative Disc Disease – Although it has the word disease in its name, degenerative disc disease is more of a naturally occurring condition. Natural degeneration contributes to the loss in disc height in the spinal discs in our spines, and aging is one of the most relevant factors. With each step you take and every day that passes, more stress is channeled on your spinal discs, and this is ever-so-slowly breaking them down. There’s nothing you can do to prevent this process, but you can slow it down by eating right, maintaining a healthy weight and by not smoking.
- Spinal Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is a bone disease that affects the density of your bones. Essentially, as you get older, your bone mass begins to decrease at a faster rate than new bone is being produced. This leads to an increased risk of spinal fractures. About 20 million Americans deal with osteoporosis, and the majority of them are older than 50 years old. You can help prevent osteoporosis by getting a lot of calcium and Vitamin D in your diet. You can also take supplements to make up for what you can’t get through your diet. Exercise also helps to keep bones and muscle groups strong, but reach out to a spine specialist if you have specific concerns about your condition.
- Spinal Stenosis – Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal, which houses the spinal cord and other spinal nerves, narrows. This narrowing puts pressure on these nerves and can lead to pain and discomfort. Your spinal canal is a lot like degenerative disc disease in that it can narrow naturally simply because of the aging process. However, you can also help to prevent the narrowing process by eating right, by getting regular exercise or by participating in targeted physical therapy. These won’t help widen the canal, but they can slow the narrowing and provide relief from symptoms. Surgical decompression operations are also available for patients who can’t find relief through nonsurgical methods.
- Shifting Spinal Discs – Bulging or herniated discs are another condition that are more common among older individuals. That’s because arthritis or nerve root compression can contribute to shifting discs, and these conditions are more common in older adults. Shifting discs are also more likely to occur in patients with degenerative disc disease, which we touched on above. Like many of the spinal conditions on this list, exercise, stretching techniques and physical therapy can all help with disc-related issues. The majority of patients find relief with conservative methods, but for those who still have pain, a number of different minimally invasive procedures can help provide relief.
For more information about any of these conditions, or to talk to Dr. Sinicropi about your back pain, reach out to his clinic today.