Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 25, 2021
Like any joint in your body, the facet joints that are located on either side of your vertebrae are prone to degeneration and wear and tear. Over time, this can lead to pain, limited range of motion and overall discomfort in the spine. Since this often occurs naturally or without severe acute trauma, many people incorrectly assume that there’s little that can be done to prevent the condition. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at spinal facet joint degeneration and how the problem can be prevented.
Preventing Spinal Facet Joint Degeneration
Your spinal facet joints traverse the entire length of your spine and are located on either side of every vertebra. They help to connect vertebrae together and stabilize motion in the spine. However, if these joints wear down and can no longer provide the necessary stability and support, problems can develop.
While it is impossible to completely prevent all arthritic joint degeneration, knowing how to keep these joints healthy and prevent excessive wear can help keep them functioning correctly long into your wonder years. Here’s a look at some factors and ways to help prevent spinal facet joint degeneration.
- Weight Management – The more you weigh, the more stress your body needs to disperse. If your spine has to help disperse a greater load for years and years, these joints are going to wear down faster. By working towards a healthy weight, you’ll be helping take the pressure off your spinal facet joints and making their job easier, which helps to slow down natural degeneration.
- Avoid Smoking – Smoking inhibits healthy blood flow throughout the body, which can serve to make structures weaker. If joints and surrounding structures aren’t getting the nutrients and oxygen they need from blood, they can break down faster.
- Exercise – Putting pressure on your spine isn’t all bad. Exercise and strength training can serve to make joints and nearby support structures stronger, which in turn helps them manage stress and pressure. If they aren’t constantly overloaded with stress because they are stronger and capable of safely handling pressure, the facet joints won’t break down as easily.
- Posture Improvements – It may not seem like you’re putting a lot of stress and pressure on your spine when you’re sitting in the car or watching television on the couch, but if you have poor posture habits in these locations and at other points throughout your day, you can be contributing to facet joint degeneration. Take mental notes of your posture at multiple points throughout the day and make adjustments so that your spine is in a healthy alignment.
- Poor Diet – Aside from the fact that your diet can contribute to weight gain and excessive pressure on your spine, a poor diet can also impact your facet joint health in other ways. If you’re not getting a range of healthy vitamins and nutrients, your body isn’t going to get what it needs to function at its highest level.
- Safety Gear – Finally, facet joint problems can develop as a result of high-impact trauma, so it’s important that you mitigate your risk of significant injury. Wear your seat belt in the car, take precautions when working from heights, and wear the right protective gear for athletic activity. This won’t always keep you safe, but it can help greatly reduce the trauma inflicted and significantly reduce your risk of catastrophic injury.
If you do all these things, we’re confident you’ll be giving your facet joints a good chance of staying healthy over the long haul. But if you need help or back pain develops, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.