Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: October 7, 2019
Your spine handles a lot of stress over the course of your life, and whether it’s in the form of microtrauma or major injury, all these events have a significant cumulative effect on your back. Due to natural aging and cumulative stress, your spine slowly degenerates over the years. But how can this degeneration affect your spine, and what can you do to treat and prevent it? We explore those answers in today’s blog.
Degeneration and Your Spinal Structures
Here’s a number of ways that natural degeneration and cumulative stress can impact all the different structures in your spine:
- Discs – Your intervertebral discs tend to lose height and flexibility as you age. Natural degeneration can also decrease the discs’ ability to cushion your joints. This can increase the risk of disc cracking and in turn leave you susceptible to bulging or herniated discs. Severely degenerated and dehydrated discs can also lead to collapsed discs.
- Cartilage – When the cartilage in your spinal joints wears down, your bony spinal processes near the back of your vertebral arch may be more likely to rub against one another. This can lead to the development of bone spurs, which can restrict joint movement and range of motion in the area. These bone spurs can also compress vital nerves and even the spinal cord.
- Ligaments – Degeneration of the spinal ligaments can actually cause them to thicken, causing stiffness and pain. Just like bone spurs, thickened ligaments can also compress nerves and your spinal cord. This degeneration can also make them more likely to tear, threatening the stability of your spine.
- Vertebrae – Similar to your discs, your vertebrae are prone to degeneration that can threaten the integrity of your spinal stability. This can lead to a shifting spinal column, nerve compression and spinal curvature disorders, like kyphosis or lordosis.
Preventing Spinal Degeneration
You can’t completely prevent spinal degeneration, but with some small tweaks to your daily life, you can help slow this process. When it comes to preventing spinal degeneration, it’s all about making healthy choices. That includes:
- Making healthy food choices
- Striving for healthy posture throughout the day
- Limiting overstressing your spine
- Regular exercise or strength training
- Staying hydrated every day, especially during physical activity
- Getting regular wellness and spinal exams
- Treating small problems before they snowball
If you can follow these tips, or at least keep them in the back of your mind as you get older, you’ll have a great chance at having a healthy spine long into your wonder years. For more information, or to talk to a spine specialist about your spinal degeneration, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.